ONE President and CEO Michael Elliott visited Little Rock, Ark., last month to join the ranks of the esteemed guests who have spoken at The Clinton School for Public Service. The bipartisan speaker series has featured everyone from Rachel Maddow to Mike Huckabee and of course both Bill and Hillary Clinton. Michael’s speech, aptly titled “Why the Foreign Assistance Budget Is One of the Best Investments We’ll Ever Make: And How to Campaign For It,” focused on the enormous value found in less than 1 percent of the US budget and what ONE is doing to protect it.
Michael started with our man on the street video and explained that a large part of our job as advocates for the world’s poor is to teach the public about the enormous amount of good that can be done with such a small amount of money.
For instance, 6.6 million people are now on life-saving AIDS therapy up from 100,000 ten years ago. He described how our foreign assistance dollars are an investment, not only on a humanitarian level, but also in terms of national security and economic development. Generally, when the public learns these things, they no longer object which is why ONE is constantly working on new and exciting ways to spread the message.
He went on to tell the students how ONE tries to get those messages across through innovative creative campaigns including our Street Tweeter last year for the G8, and help from celebrity supporters. All of these pieces add up to recruiting our 2.5 million members. In turn, those ONE members lobby their local governments for the continued support of smart aid dollars that have saved millions of lives through programs like PEPFAR and The Global Fund.
Many of The Clinton School students will be able to visit some of these projects first hand. They are each working to earn a master’s degree in public service – the first degree of its kind in the country – and will be required to complete an international project, where they spend 10 weeks of their summer break abroad in service.
After his speech, Michael answered questions from the students. One student from Kenya asked how we dealt with corruption and Michael was able to share ONE’s work to make sure investments are transparent so that ordinary citizens can hold their governments accountable on how their money is spent.