UNICEF USA Bridge Fund | UNICEF USA
Porters and a local health official carry UNICEF-provided vaccines across difficult terrain on their way to a health post in Barpak Village in Nepal's Gorkha district, the epicenter of the April 2021 earthquake.
 
UNICEF/UNI199143/Panday

UNICEF USA Bridge Fund: An impact investment tool that provides financing UNICEF needs to act fast in a crisis 

The UNICEF USA Bridge Fund is an innovative impact investment tool that addresses the timing gaps that emerge between the commitment of a donor's support to UNICEF and the actual receipt of the pledged cash by UNICEF. 

A program of the UNICEF USA Impact Fund for Children, the Bridge Fund's low-risk, high-impact profile is attractive to a range of social impact investors seeking to make a difference in the survival and development of children. The Bridge Fund is unique, not only in its mission and mandate, but also in the scale and the impact that it can achieve by leveraging UNICEF's infrastructure, economies of scale, expertise and global reach.

Since its inception in 2011, the Bridge Fund has fast tracked over $500 million to UNICEF to support emergency programs in a range of humanitarian settings around the world.

What does the Bridge Fund do?

  • leverages net worth grants to secure capital in the form of 3-year or 5-year loans, which form a pool of revolving funds
  • provides flexible capital from that pool in the form of cash grants to UNICEF to enable swift action in an emergency
  • allows UNICEF to start the procurement process earlier to secure better pricing and start programmatic activity sooner
  • helps ensure a continuous supply of lifesaving commodities from reliable manufacturers
  • multiplies programmatic impact with each subsequent bridge: a $1 million investment over a 5-year period has the impact of a $10 million investment when funds are rotated just twice a year
  • maintains a flexible pool of capital: when donors' funds are received by UNICEF, the Bridge Fund is replenished, ensuring the availability of capital for the next urgent need; Bridge Fund investors get a return of capital and a return on capital

Bridge Fund capital has been leveraged across all major UNICEF program areas, helping UNICEF provide:

  • medical supplies, from thermometers to first-aid kits
  • mosquito nets and malaria medicine
  • HIV-related medicines and diagnostics
  • vaccines and safe injection devices
  • pharmaceuticals, micronutrients and therapeutic foods
  • education equipment and materials
  • clean water, sanitation and hygiene equipment

In March 2022, within weeks of the escalation of war in Ukraine, the UNICEF USA Bridge Fund provided $15.2 million in urgently-needed capital to expedite UNICEF’s emergency response — making funding available at a critical time, when millions of children and their families were displaced or fleeing the country and in immediate need of safe water, health care and protection. By August 2022, Fund support had increased to $19.1 million. 

In December 2021, the Bridge Fund accelerated $9.1 million of UNICEF USA fundraising to Afghanistan to help UNICEF ramp up lifesaving treatment for the rising numbers of children suffering from severe malnutrition, among other critical services. 

In November 2020, the Bridge Fund prefinanced a $10 million investment in Nigeria’s vaccine supply chain to support COVID-19 and other immunization campaigns. And in August 2020, the Bridge Fund accelerated $1.3 million to Beirut to support UNICEF's rapid emergency response following a deadly port explosion — enabling swift action to assist affected children and families.

''At a time when investors are increasingly evaluating the impact their investments have on the world, true innovative financial mechanisms like the Bridge Fund are leading with social good as the goal," Cristina Shapiro, who oversees the Bridge Fund as President of the UNICEF USA Impact Fund for Children, wrote in an op-ed for Impact Alpha. "We need to ask how organizations across the board can tap into trillions of dollars of private capital for good. And we need to make it attractive to investors... Philanthropy alone cannot solve some of the biggest challenges facing children."

Learn more

Additional details about the Bridge Fund's impact are provided in our Quarterly and Annual Activity Reports:

To review reports prior to 2019, please contact us.

View the summary Terms and Conditions of an Investment in the Bridge Fund.

Contact Cristina Shapiro, IF4C President, at cshapiro@unicefusa.org or Erin Egan, Managing Director, Operations, at eegan@unicefusa.org to learn more about the Bridge Fund and how you can support UNICEF's lifesaving work.