UBS Optimus Foundation UK

UBS Optimus Foundation UK enables you to make high impact donations, with a focus on child protection, education and health, which help break down the barriers that prevent children from reaching their full potential.  We work closely with the UBS Optimus Foundation in Switzerland – an expert grant-making foundation established by UBS in 1999.

Through the Optimus Foundation network we reach more than 1.5 million children. In 2013 a total of 107 projects in 48 countries were supported. We work with leading organisations and academic institutions to identify, fund and implement innovative projects that improve the lives of children facing adversity, so they grow up with more hope for the future. We support practical and scalable innovations that are based on rigorous assessment and clear evidence of improving outcomes and children's lives.

The UBS Optimus Foundation UK administration costs are met by UBS, ensuring that 100% of all donations go directly to projects. The rigour and expertise we can apply allows us to leverage donations and ensure your philanthropic goals are met through innovative, high impact strategies designed and implemented by leading global institutions and organisations. We are able to provide you with oversight and updates on your donation.

Donations and Investment Opportunities

If you wish to support strategic philanthropy initiatives that have the potential to bring the highest levels of return on your philanthropic investment, contact our UK Philanthropy services team today to find out more about donating to the UBS Optimus Foundation UK.

We can take donations from any UK resident and domiciled UBS client, and all eligible donations are subject to gift aid and tax relief. If you are non-resident or non-domiciled client, contact your Client Advisor to discuss alternative ways in which UBS Optimus Foundation UK can assist you.

Showcase projects 

Examples of strategic philanthropy funded through the UBS Optimus Foundation network.

School in a Box - Education

Location: Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

We are always looking for innovative ways to give children access to quality education. One answer we’re supporting is low-cost private education. Many government schools serving children living in Africa's slums are poorly funded, and teachers lack adequate training. This means that only 60% of children finish primary school, and over 40% of children have poor reading skills.

The ‘School in a Box’ project works because it provides higher quality education, and parents on minimum wages and poverty-line incomes can afford the low fees - typically USD 2 a month paid daily.

It has been proven that children gain better numeracy and literacy skills at a lower cost compared to other private schools, and at nearly the same cost as the government schools. Now chains of these schools are being created to reach even more children and train more teachers. Omega Schools in Ghana is one of many success stories. We hope this project will reach 30,000 children by 2014.

Magic Glasses - Health

More than 100 million Chinese children are currently infected with parasitic worms, which cause diarrhea, malnutrition, anemia, weakness, wasting, stunted growth and impaired learning. Although mass drug administration (MDA) has been the cornerstone of infection control, it doesn’t prevent reinfection.

Because children couldn’t see the microscopic worms, they didn’t see the need to wash their hands after using the toilet. Imagine the difference it would make if they could put on a pair of magic glasses and see what was really lurking on their hands. This is exactly how the Magic Glasses educational cartoon got the message across. Hand washing went up. Reinfection rates went down by 50%.

This project is now being implemented in the Philippines; we plan to expand to Africa as well.

By January 2018 this programme will reach 4,000 children directly and up to 20,000,000 indirectly.

Happy Meals - Health

Location: Uganda and Kenya

More than 50% of deaths of children under 5 in Africa occur as a result of malnutrition. And, more than one-third of children under the age of 5 in Africa are stunted as a result of malnutrition, facing a life-time of physical and cognitive challenges, an inability to perform in school and a resulting reduction in earning potential.These children not only lack access to healthy and fortified foods, but often their parents have little knowledge about the importance and availability of such foods.

Our ‘Happy Meals’ project is changing this. To reach the children most in need, we are taking a door-to-door approach. We have set up a micro-franchise which enables local workers to talk to mums and dads about nutrition. Through this network, the project will develop and test a new line of affordable fortified foods and food supplements, formulated especially to keep under 5s healthy. It will also include educational text messages, via mobile phone, to parents about how to provide healthy nutrition to their children.

This project will reach more than 700,000 people, improve the health of more than 240,000 children, including more than 39,000 pregnant women and newborns.

Dengue torpedo - Health

Location: Brazil and Nicaragua

Dengue is one of the most devastating mosquito-borne diseases. Right now 2.5 billion people are at risk. There are no vaccines and the infection can be fatal if the disease is not treated appropriately. This means eliminating mosquito breeding sites is critical in the fight against Dengue.

But for this to succeed, people need to spot breeding sites, spread the news and take action. So we supported a project that created the Dengue Torpedo app. This mobile phone app enables community residents to report mosquito breeding sites to a central database. Importantly, the app is fun to use and the kids played with it immediately. It uses real-time maps and gaming to encourage participation and data collection.

With Dengue cases having doubled in Brazil since 2009, we hope this app proves to be the ultimate weapon in defeating dengue.

Keeping kids safe

Location: Global

Child sexual abuse exists in every country and every social class. It’s estimated that 20-30% of all children are victims of some kind of sexual assault. But shame and taboo often mean that cases go undetected and unreported. This has led to a lack of scientifically-established data and information regarding how and why these crimes are committed. As a result, child protection measures are often based on assumptions rather than facts which is exactly what we are trying to change. Such critical issues require facts, not assumptions.

Through the Optimus Study, we are working to reduce the rate of abuse and improve protection for children and adolescents by systematically collecting information through research. This will drive better awareness, better policy-making and more effective prevention initiatives.

So far we’ve gathered data in Switzerland, China and South Africa, and we will be researching in other countries soon.