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Washington State University

Office of the PResident

Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D. - 4/9/09

The Impact of Ripple Effect

Americans are a charitable people, giving upwards of $300 billion to good causes annually. They also are practical and results-oriented; they want to put their money where it can have a direct, positive impact.

In the past month, the Washington State University Foundation has rolled out a new website that will allow contributors to target their money to university initiatives in the developing world. It is called Ripple Effect, and you can explore it here: http://rippleeffect.wsu.edu/.

The site allows contributors to make gifts of tangible, useful products – trees, cows, sheep, honey bees, treadle pumps, etc. – to people who need that help to improve their lives.

WSU’s efforts to help people help themselves in developing nations rank among our most important, and least recognized, initiatives. For example, WSU has been working in Malawi, whose per-capita income is among the lowest in the world, since 1986. Our university now partners with Total Land Care, a Malawian non-governmental organization that grew out of WSU’s efforts in the region.

The goal is to bring sustainable economic development to these communities. To get a better idea of what we are accomplishing there, I encourage you to read a Washington State Magazine article written by my predecessor, Lane Rawlins, after his 2006 visit to Malawi: http://wsm.wsu.edu/stories/2007/February/Malawi.html. We are doing similar work in rural areas of Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda and Burkina Faso as well.

It is impossible to read such accounts or to talk with the remarkable faculty, staff and students who are leading our international efforts, and not come away with a great deal of pride in our university. Their efforts have built WSU’s reputation within the region as an effective force for alleviating poverty, hunger and disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Similarly, you have to be struck by the resolve and determination shown by the people there when they are provided with the most basic tools to improve their lives.

Of course, this initiative is strengthened immeasurably by the research we are doing, both here and abroad, through our School for Global Animal Health. In societies where livestock disease can quickly lead to economic calamity, or to epidemics swiftly spreading through entire families and communities, that research is vital.

By connecting donors in a very direct and affordable way to our international initiatives, Ripple Effect will help WSU improve people’s lives.

This is, and will continue to be, an internationally engaged university. Our students expect it; our mission demands it. In fact, some students have taken on this cause by promoting it to their friends on campus and off through social networking sites or have purchased items at Ripple Effect as their first gift to their university.

I invite you to visit the Ripple Effect website, either just to get a better idea of what WSU is doing in the developing world, or to make a contribution. Also, please help spread the word about the site to friends and family.

In places where people face a daily struggle with poverty and disease, even a small gift to Ripple Effect can make a big difference.