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  • Awarded: 2007
  • Issue Areas: Early Childhood to Primary Education · Education · Secondary Education
  • Countries Served: USA · Canada · China · Ecuador · India · Kenya · Sierra Leone · Sri Lanka
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    About the Organization

    WE, formerly called Free The Children, is an international Canadian charity and educational partner. The organization is unique in that it operates collaborative programs both domestically and internationally.

    In Canada, the US, and the UK, WE Day and WE Schools are initiatives that educate and empower young people. WE Schools is a yearlong educational program that nurtures compassion in students and gives them the tools to create transformative social change. WE Day is a series of stadium-sized events that celebrate youth making a difference in their local and global communities.

    In Africa, Asia, and Latin America, WE partners with communities to implement Adopt a Village, a holistic, five-pillar international development model designed to achieve sustainable change. Together with local leaders and families, they transform lives with solutions that are adaptive, effective, and sustained long term by the community itself.

    Youth from developed countries have untapped potential to address inequalities affecting their peers in developing countries, Craig Keilburger discovered this first hand as a young child when he learnt about child labor abuses in India.

    Free the Children builds relationships with schools, supporting action campaigns that touch every aspect of a young person’s life.

    Craig and Marc Kielburger lead a movement of young change makers committed to making a difference.

    More than 2 million young people from North America and the United Kingdom have taken action.

    Ambition for Change

    Communities in developing countries lift themselves out of poverty with the help of North American youth who recognize and embrace their power to create change in the world.

    Path to Scale

    Program Growth

    FTC’s revenues reached $40 million in 2013, with a third raised by youth.

    When Craig Kielburger was 12 years old, he was shocked by a newspaper article about the murder of a child laborer turned child rights activist. Eager to take action, he enlisted the help of his older brother Marc, and together they established Kids Can Free the Children, determined to help fight poverty, exploitation and powerlessness by empowering and engaging children in the Western world. Now known as Free the Children, the organization builds long-term relationships with schools, supporting local and global action campaigns designed to touch every aspect of a young person’s life. The program includes curriculum, after-school clubs, volunteer and fundraising campaigns, summer leadership camps, and celebrity role models. International projects are implemented through the Adopt a Village model, supporting education, clean water and sanitation, health, livelihoods, agriculture and food security. At the time of the Award, Craig and Marc’s book Me to We had recently become a best seller. Free the Children had engaged nearly half a million children in 2,000 schools in the U.S. and Canada, supporting several thousand on volunteer trips overseas that included building schools and providing school supplies, and carrying out other projects. Craig and Marc went on to found the for-profit social enterprise Me to We – providing socially responsible goods and travel -- and continue to serve as volunteer ambassadors for Free the Children. Me to We donates half its profits to Free the Children.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • We Day events and FTC’s We Act program educates, engages and empowers 2.3 million youth across North America and the United Kingdom.
    • Educators agree that the We Act program transforms students’ student behavior and increases engagement. 86 percent report there is a greater atmosphere of caring and compassion in their school. 90 percent agree that students are more confident in their abilities to set and achieve goals. 97 percent agree that their students now believe they can make a difference in the world.
    • Cumulative impact includes building 650 schools where 55,000 children are being educated; providing $16 million worth of medical supplies; providing 1 million people with clean water; and assisting 30,000 women to achieve economic self sufficiency.

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