2023 marks the 10-year anniversary of DisasterReady.org. From humble beginnings as an emergency online learning site for volunteers responding to the floods in Pakistan, DisasterReady has grown into one of the largest and most trusted professional development platforms for humanitarian and development professionals around the world, at no cost. DisasterReady has become a go-to professional development platform for volunteers responding to their first disaster, humanitarians preparing for deployment to a different country or crisis, and experienced professionals wanting to take the next step in their career.
When we launched DisasterReady.org, we were initially met with skepticism and some resistance. The majority of NGOs had always delivered their trainings in-person, and for a variety of reasons, the shift to online learning was contrary to the way they had always operated. Would these organizations embrace online learning as a critical means to make training accessible to their remote and distributed workforces who needed timely access to learning? Over a million learners and a decade later, we know the answer. DisasterReady.org now has a robust library of over 1,500 online learning resources in seven languages. The portal includes free certifications and assessment-based certificate programs for humanitarians at all levels of experience. Some of the largest NGOs direct all new employees to DisasterReady to take safety and security training before their first deployment. And after 3,000 people signed up back in 2013, more than 1,000,000 people from 195 different countries have signed up since.
The mission of DisasterReady remains the same today as it was ten years ago — to better prepare humanitarian and development professionals for the critical work they do by providing high-quality, relevant online learning resources at no cost. Making access to education freely available to humanitarian and development workers so they can continuously build skills and support crisis-affected communities has been the bedrock of this program. As we look back on 10 years supporting the sector, DisasterReady has remained steadfast in its commitment to three core themes – equity, skill development, and preparedness.
One of the most impactful ways that DisasterReady.org has been able to support communities over the past decade is through its commitment to increasing equitable access to education. By making all our courses and certificate programs free, online, and on-demand, DisasterReady.org has removed many of the traditional barriers to learning and professional development. This has allowed individuals and communities from all backgrounds and circumstances to access the information and resources they need to increase their readiness and resilience in the face of emergencies. This approach has been particularly beneficial for marginalized communities and those with limited access to traditional educational opportunities, providing them with the skills they need to protect themselves and their families during times of crisis. As we begin our next ten years, we remain committed to this principle and will continue to explore new ways to bring DisasterReady to as many individuals, communities, and organizations as possible.
DisasterReady.org has also played an important role in enabling humanitarian and development workers to develop their skills and advance their careers. The online learning portal offers a wide range of courses and certificate programs that are specifically designed to help aid and development workers and volunteers gain the knowledge and skills they need to effectively respond to emergencies including preparation for emergencies and building back after they occur. As a new learner recently commented, “The information in DisasterReady is an insightful journey and with the skills acquired, I will surely be the change I wish to see.” By providing access to training that is both relevant and up to date, DisasterReady.org helps humanitarian and development workers to stay current on best practices and to better support crisis-affected communities. This is particularly important in a field where the demands of the job are constantly evolving, and assessment-based certificates and certifications are being used to address Duty of Care requirements and inform hiring, promotion, and deployment decisions. By providing online learning that is easily accessible, available in multiple languages, free to any aid and development worker anywhere on the planet, and relevant content that meets learner’s needs, DisasterReady gives humanitarians the ability to develop tangible skills that will make a real difference in the communities they serve.
From its inception, DisasterReady.org has been instrumental in helping individuals, communities, and organizations build their resilience and readiness. With disasters on the rise around the world and the impacts being felt particularly by the most vulnerable communities, it is more important than ever to be prepared. Whether it’s our short videos, Ready to Go Mobile Guides, or more detailed online courses, DisasterReady has long been a trusted resource to better understand the risks associated with different types of disasters, the steps we all can take to mitigate those risks, and how best to safely respond when disaster strikes.
It has been incredibly rewarding to look back on the partnerships we have developed over the past 10 years of DisasterReady. We are incredibly grateful to have partners from across the NGO, adult education, and international development sectors that share our belief in the power of learning to transform individuals, organizations, and communities. We also want to thank and acknowledge the leadership of Cornerstone OnDemand. They have believed in this program from the very beginning and continue to be our largest funder and supporter today. Finally, we want to extend a special thanks to our learners. This program has expanded to serve over 1 million people because so many of you see value in it, keep coming back to use it, and recommend it to your friends and colleagues. You continue to inspire us with the sacrifices you make to further your own personal development and to ensure the well-being of others. The world is healthier, safer, and more resilient because of our entire DisasterReady community. Here’s to another 10 years together!