In the fall of 2014, Ebola was spreading across West Africa at an unprecedented rate. What started as an initial case in a small, isolated village in Guinea grew rapidly to become the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history. Paul G. Allen immediately pledged $100 million to help stop it.
These funds provided critical supplies and much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers. The funding also filled often-overlooked gaps in data systems, emergency infrastructure, and even supported the safe burial of those who died from the disease.
When the West Africa outbreak finally ended in 2016, the impact of Allen’s funding became clear. That money helped fund rapid testing and case identification, paid to transport highly infectious patients back to the U.S. for emergency treatment, better equipped thousands of health workers, and strengthened infrastructure and health systems.
Then, in 2018, another Ebola outbreak (which would become the second largest in history) struck the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Once again, we provided rapid funding to organizations like Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and a mobile emergency operation center designed and deployed by PATH. When it became apparent civil instability and community distrust were hamstringing response efforts, we launched the Ebola Response Accelerator Challenge, which funded projects with the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and UNICEF.
As part of the effort to make this the last major Ebola outbreak, we supported the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations' (CEPI) introduction of a second Ebola vaccine in the DRC, which was deployed as a clinical trial in North Kivu. In 2020, the outbreak was stopped thanks to the heroic work of frontline healthcare workers, scientists, and the resilience of Congolese citizens. Lessons learned were immediately applied to combat yet another, smaller, Ebola outbreak in the western Equateur province. Various insights we gained have also informed our ongoing efforts to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.
Partners (West Africa): Airlink, CDC Foundation, Chembio, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, National Philanthropic Trust, PCI Media Impact, Save the Children, UNICEF, University of Massachusetts Medical School, U.S. Department of State, World Food Programme, World Health Organization and many more
Partners (DRC): Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Medical Corps, Internews, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), PATH, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Health Organization (WHO)
The project had been a Chinook recovery priority for years. But it had not moved forward because of the costs involved, so in late 2016, PGAFF provided funding to reinvigorate the project. We took a collaborative approach, supporting stakeholders working to identify a design for dam removal and helping to marshal additional private funds. These efforts made it possible to unlock public co-funding from the City of Bellingham and the state’s Puget Sound Acquisition and Recreation Fund, which ranked this a top priority and contributed $10.5M, the most it has ever provided to a project. With the removal of the dam now complete, attention is turning to restoration of key areas — including 16 river miles of Chinook salmon habitat and 26 miles of bull trout territory.
Building on this success, in 2019, PGAFF funded several projects to remove additional dams including the Pilchuck Dam in Washington and four more in Oregon. Removing the Pilchuck Dam alone will restore 37 miles of salmon habitat, protect local landowners from flooding, and open one-third of the Pilchuck River to salmon access.
In 2020, five dams were removed, 73 miles of Chinook habitat were restored, and more than 100 miles of habitat for salmonids, lamprey, and bull trout were also repaired. As of this writing, scientists are already seeing signs of increased salmon activity in new areas.
Partners: American Rivers, City of Bellingham, City of Snohomish, Environmental Protection Agency, Lummi Nation, NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center, Nooksack Indian Tribe, The Puget Sound Partnership, Resources Legacy Fund, The Tulalip Tribes of Washington, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife