Skoll Foundation


Free The Children

Skoll Awardee(s): Craig and Marc Kielburger
Award Year: 2007
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Education

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“Free the Children is leading a growing movement of young change makers who are committed to making a difference locally and globally. We know that change is possible, and that we are the generation we have been waiting for.”

Sub-Issues: Early Childhood to Primary Education; Secondary Education Youth from North America and the developed countries have unprecedented power and untapped potential to address inequalities affecting their peers in developing countries.

The Skoll Awardees: 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 since joining the portfolio in 2007:

  • 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.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.