Professor Watenpaugh

Article 26 Backpack Giving

Helping Refugees Reclaim Right to Education

Built to address the social and institutional barriers that prevent refugees and vulnerable young people from continuing their education or finding a job, the Article 26 Backpack is a universal human rights tool that empowers young people to connect with universities, scholarship agencies and potential employers.

Named for a key plank in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights that establishes the right to education for all people, the Article 26 Backpack is poised to revolutionize the way refugees and those whose education has been disrupted by war, natural disaster, or economic collapse shape, store and share elements of their professional and educational identity.

The Vision

Article 26 Backpack is a key element of the University of California’s global efforts to protect and promote human rights by bringing the full force of a modern research university to bear on the world’s most pressing challenges. Leveraging UC and UC Davis expertise in educational technology, Article 26 Backpack translates high-quality social science and humanities research into direct humanitarian action. It is a demonstration, as well, of our belief that leading institutions of higher education have a unique responsibility to protect the human right to quality lifetime education for all.

The Challenge

The Article 26 Backpack has received significant funding from the Open Society Foundations and the Ford Foundation. We are building partnerships with universities, non-governmental organizations, scholarship agencies, corporations and philanthropies to continue to extend the reach and impact of the Backpack in collaboration with consortium partners:

  • American University of Beirut (AUB)
  • American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO)
  • Global Platform for Syrian Students

The consortium is providing the Backpack opportunity to hundreds of refugee and at-risk young people in Lebanon, home to over a million refugees from the war in Syria. The multifaceted nature of the Backpack opens opportunities for collaboration and support across a wide range of industries and interests, but taking the next steps of expanding partnerships and reaching refugee populations throughout the Middle East and beyond will require additional resources and investment.

The Opportunity

Expanding to Universities and Employers

Building a community of support for Article 26 Backpack. The Backpack is a revolutionary tool for inclusion. Universities and employers in particular have a critical role to play in building a community of support for the Backpack (and Backpackers) through their willingness to encourage its use. Currently, UC Davis, in collaboration with Indiana University, AUB, and AACRAO, is developing a policy on accepting and using the Article 26 Backpack and its contents in admissions decisions.

Likewise, employers could use the Backpack to identify and recruit highly-skilled employees. A Digital Compass for the Backpack The Compass is a planned addition to the digital platform of the Backpack. Using machine learning, it will be the engine with which to safely, securely, and efficiently connect Backpack users to professional resources—a process which is vital to furthering their educational and career goals.

Adding New Languages to the Backpack

The first version of the Backpack’s digital platform is in English. Most of the young people eligible to use the digital tool have enough exposure to English to use the interface, however, to expand our reach, we are working to build an Arabic language module. Support for this project is critical to long-term success. The same process that will bring Arabic to the Backpack tool, will be applied to add additional language capacity, including Dari/Farsi, Spanish, and French.

We invite you to partner with us as we take the next steps in providing refugee populations throughout the Middle East and beyond with opportunities to reclaim their right to education.

Donate to Article 26 Backpack Today

Contact Information

Keith David Watenpaugh
Professor and Director, Human Rights Studies
Director, Article 26 Backpack
+1 (530) 752-0470