Skoll Foundation


Free The Children

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

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In 1995, when Craig Kielburger was 12, he was shocked by a newspaper article about the murder of a child laborer turned child rights activist. Craig enlisted the help of his brother, Marc, and they established Free The Children (FTC), to help fight poverty, exploitation and powerlessness among their peers. The organization began as a group of classmates raising money and awareness, and evolved into an international phenomenon: hundreds of Youth in Action school chapters, a partnership with Oprah’s Angel Network and volunteer service trips to Asia, Africa and Central America. Craig never stopped spreading the message that children in the Western world could effect social change. Marc, a Harvard graduate, Rhodes Scholar and Oxford-educated lawyer, has helped the organization move from focusing strictly on international issues to bridging the gap between global and local needs.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2007:

  • Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner, with more than 2.3 million youth involved in innovative education and development programs in 45 countries.
  • Free The Children’s domestic programming is focused on youth engagement and inspiring young leaders to pursue positive change at home and abroad. They work with more than 4,000 schools and youth groups in North America and the UK, empowering young people to become global citizens. In the 2011/2012 school year, youth raised $6 million for various causes while volunteering more than 1.7 million hours.
  • They have built 650 schools, provided 55,000 children with education every day, provided $16 million worth of medical supplies around the world, 1 million people with clean water, and 30,000 women with economic self-sufficiency.
  • Local projects include We Day, motivational speaking tours, awareness and fundraising campaigns, curriculum and educational resources, initiatives targeting underserved communities, programs aimed at building awareness about Aboriginal education, and more.
  • In the 2012/2013 school year, over 4,500 schools officially registered for We Act. Together, their actions added up to a lot of change:
    • $11 million fundraised for local and global causes
    • 4.5 million hours volunteered
    • 875,000 lbs of food collected



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.