News & Updates
Me to We
September 26, 2013
Free The Children is proof positive that kids can make a difference in the world. The organization is an international charity and educational partner that believes in a world where all children are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. It works domestically through its We Day and We Act programs to educate, engage and empower youth to become active local and global citizens. Through its sustainable development model—Adopt a Village—Free the Children strives to remove barriers to education and help communities break the cycle of poverty.
The organization was founded by Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he gathered 11 school friends to begin fighting child labor. He was 12 years old. He was motivated by a story that appeared in the Toronto Star about a boy his age named Iqbal. Iqbal Masih was born in South Asia and sold into slavery at the age of four. He had spent six years chained to a carpet-weaving loom. Iqbal captured the world’s attention by speaking out for children’s rights. But he was killed at the age of 12 by those who had enslaved him and which to silence him.
Craig gathered together a small group of classmates from his school in Ontario and Free The Children was born. Its mission is simple. Free the children from poverty. Free the children from exploitation. Free the children from the notion that they are powerless to effect change.
Today, Free the Children has over 5,300 volunteers working on projects that are about evenly split between domestic and international. The organization has been a model of efficiency, lining up partners from KPMG to Air Canada to provide in-kind services that allow it to operate on a lean administrative overhead of less than ten percent. Since 2009, it has raised over $5 million in donations, over a third of which come from kids. The projects it funds range from education, to providing clean water, and helping women and children become self sufficient by selling products through its Artisans program.
But perhaps the most important work that Free the Children does, is to empower kids to get involved and make a difference in their communities and around the world. Through its Me to We programs, Free the Children is teaching children to become social activists and realize they can change their world for the better.
Free the Children – featured on CBS 60 Minutes