There is no doubt that 2020 has been one the most challenging years in recent memory for children, students and educators. It has been a difficult year for us at GPE as well, particularly for our partners in low- and lower-middle income countries, who have been severely impacted by the health, economic and education crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is often said that in the most challenging times, we find our strength, and GPE is no exception. As countries around the world began closing their schools in March, GPE rapidly provided funds to 87 governments to help them kick-start planning how they would support children and teachers with remote learning. A few weeks later, we were able to launch the largest COVID-19 education response fund, which over the following months mobilized US$500 million to support partner countries as they responded to the unprecedented disruptions to education. We are incredibly grateful to the leadership demonstrated by Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden, who together mobilized an additional $40 million towards this response.
From the start, GPE's focus was on supporting the children most at risk of being left behind by school closures and remote learning, including girls, children from poor families, displaced children and those living with disabilities. I am proud to say that today, we are funding innovative programs in 66 countries. GPE grants are supporting everything from developing remote learning curricula, to distributing solar-powered radios and printed workbooks, to expanding online resources and supporting teachers to connect with students via their cell phones. In countries where schools have reopened, GPE funds are helping ensure they have handwashing stations and soap.
We are also working hand-in-hand with other key partners from the education sector and beyond to advocate for education and ensure that children's needs are met holistically. GPE provided a $25 million grant to UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank to capture and share lessons learned so that countries can increase the future resilience of their education systems and be ready to withstand future shocks. Through the GPE Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX), we are also supporting ADEA, AU-CIEFFA and UIS to collect, synthesize and mobilize evidence about COVID-19 responses in Africa.
This year has been an unprecedented year for GPE in other ways, as well. We approved a record $1.5 billion in grants this year and disbursed almost $1 billion to more than 60 countries. Two-thirds went to low-income countries, where needs are the highest. Among those approved was our recent $140 million grant to Mozambique, the largest ever single grant provided to a partner country.
In October, GPE launched our fourth refinancing campaign, calling on world leaders to raise their hands to ensure every child can fulfill her right to an education. With education champions United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta as our co-hosts, GPE is seeking to raise at least $5 billion to support education in up to 87 countries over the next five years, which are home to more than 1 billion children.
These funds will help us implement GPE 2025, our bold new five-year strategic plan that was finalized by the Board in December 2020. Focused on helping partner countries deliver transformative change in their education systems, our new operating model and financing and funding framework are poised to deliver more flexible funding that can be adapted to different contexts and provide greater incentives to invest in reforms.
Our new strategy puts GPE's commitment to gender equality at the heart of everything we do. Gender will be hardwired into all the workings of the partnership, and a new funding window will raise an additional $250 million to close gender gaps and advance progress on girls education. In a resource-constrained world, GPE is also expanding our innovative finance programs including a matching fund and debt forgiveness mechanisms, building on the success of the GPE Multiplier.
I want to take this moment to thank all GPE partners for their hard work, dedication and commitment over this past year. Our joint efforts have helped us improve the lives of millions of children around the world and provide them with hope, opportunity and agency through a quality education.
As we look ahead to 2021 with all its uncertainly, we know one thing for sure. GPE is stronger than ever. Together, we are ready to rise to the challenge.