Media releases and reports

Jefferies donation to UNICEF Aotearoa for Tonga has long-term impact

10 MARCH 2022

10 MARCH 2022 – ADoing Good” Trading Day, held on February 10 by financial services company Jefferies, raised NZD $525,745.77 through a combination of trading commissions and voluntary contributions from the firm’s more than 4,500 employees worldwide. The funds will support communities in the Kingdom of Tonga in their recovery, following the volcanic eruption and tsunami.

Rich Handler, CEO, and Brian Friedman, President, of Jefferies, acknowledged that supporting communities in Tonga and being part of the solution was rewarding for its clients, who donated through net trading commissions, and its employees, who donated privately.

“As a people-driven business, we pride ourselves in surviving challenging times and making a positive difference for communities. Recognising UNICEF’s lifesaving work for children around the world and their decades of experience supporting children and families in emergencies, we were confident the organisation would wisely use funds to accelerate response efforts and make a lasting impact for communities in Tonga.”

Following the eruption, UNICEF shipped 44 metric tonnes of emergency supplies, including education supplies, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) in schools supplies, and recreation kits, with the intent to target these at the most-affected of the 180 schools in Tonga, serving 22,430 children, along with 1,432 teachers and staff. 

In the aftermath of the volcanic eruption, a thick layer of ash blanketed most of the country and the start of the new school year was delayed due to the significant damage to schools. A few days after the volcanic eruption and tsunami, schools re-opened for a few days, but then were closed almost immediately because of COVID-19.

While most schools remain closed in the main island of Tongatapu as well as Vava’u due to COVID-19, schools are now open in the islands of Ha’apai (where there are no COVID cases). In Ha’apai, seven tents have already been delivered to schools with damaged classrooms, along with ECD kits, school-in-a-box, backpacks, water bottles, detergent and recreation kits.

For the remaining students, which still represent the vast majority of schoolchildren in Tonga, schools have still not reopened, which impacts on children’s opportunity to learn as well as their access to other essential services such as psycho-social support.

To support schools to re-open safely, UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education and Training (MET) to define and train all schools on safe school reopening plans and protocols, support communication and materials on COVID-safe practices, and to fast track the distribution of education; health; and water, sanitation and hygiene supplies to remaining schools.

As the Kingdom of Tonga transitions into the recovery phase, Michelle Sharp, UNICEF Aotearoa CEO, said the generous gift of NZD $530,000 will help to build resilience of the education system and ensure schools are prepared for future emergencies.

“We extend our sincere gratitude towards Jefferies and their employees who contributed to UNICEF’s response in Tonga,” said Sharp. “Tonga and other Pacific Island countries are amongst the most at risk to natural disasters, and children’s education is repeatedly disrupted. All children need to return to learning as quickly as possible and these funds will help strengthen learning from home and safe school reopening so children can continue their education and return to normal as soon as possible”.

Learning support for Tonga will be designed jointly with the Ministry of Education and Training to ensure relevance to the current context and needs. It is likely to include a combination of home-based learning and capacity building, to compliment and support the development of systems already in place.

With approximately 90% of funds raised from the Good Trading Day going to support UNICEF’s emergency response in Tonga, Michelle Sharp celebrates the power of the global community to support during times of crisis and develop long-term solutions.

“Like UNICEF, the corporate sector has the ability to move at speed and drive positive action. Together we can work with communities to foster resilience and ensure no child is robbed of their opportunity to learn in schools that have safe, healthy and hygienic environments,” said Sharp.

About Jefferies:

Jefferies (NYSE: JEF) is the largest independent, global, full-service investment banking firm headquartered in the U.S. Focused on serving clients for 60 years, Jefferies is a leader in providing insight, expertise and execution to investors, companies and governments. Our firm provides a full range of investment banking, advisory, sales and trading, research and wealth management services across all products in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Jefferies’ Leucadia Asset Management division is a growing alternative asset management platform.

UNICEF Aotearoa – Mō ngā tamariki katoa

UNICEF Aotearoa are one of 33 National Committees and seeks to make life better for all tamariki by advocating for the rights of children in Aotearoa, partnering with the New Zealand Government to deliver programs to tamariki in the Pacific and raising funds for UNICEF’s worldwide emergency and development work. For more information about UNICEF Aotearoa and its work for children visit

UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF works in the world's toughest places to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents – and to protect the rights of every child, everywhere.