Skoll Foundation


Posts Tagged ‘Free the Children’

Skoll Foundation and Kielburgers called Canadian Social Enterprise “Champions”

July 28, 2014 by

Jeff Skoll, The Skoll Foundation and Skoll Awardees Craig and Marc Kielburger were called social enterprise “champions” by the Ottawa Citizen. The article cited the growing trend of social entrepreneurship and featured several examples. An excerpt:

 “All of them have been drawn by social enterprise’s heady promise: social good that’s financially sustainable. Its champions include some prominent Canadians, including former eBay executive Jeff Skoll, who established the Skoll Foundation in 1999 to fund and encourage social entrepreneurship, and Craig and Marc Kielburger, who have built one of this country’s most successful social enterprises, Me to We, which sells eco-friendly clothing, accessories, jewelry, greeting cards, books and international volunteer trips. Half of Me to We’s net profits are turned over to the international charity Free The Children, while the other half is poured back into the enterprise to broaden its social impact — spinoff benefits that include full-time employment for 800 Maasai artisans. Across Canada, social entrepreneurs have found compelling ways to marry money and mission.”

Read the rest:


Malala Makes First Trip to Africa, Hosted by Free the Children

July 7, 2014 by

Who can forget the moving speech given by Malala Yousafzai at the Skoll World Forum this year? Malala, who won the Skoll Global Treasure Award, just went to Kenya, hosted by Skoll Awardee Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children.

Details from the press release:

On her first trip to Africa, education activist and Malala Fund co-founder Malala Yousafzai said she was inspired by the dreams and determination of the schoolgirls she met while learning about the many challenges they have overcome to obtain an education.

The 16-year-old spent several days speaking with girls from rural Kenyan communities about their passionate desire to go to school and the many obstacles they encounter, including discrimination, poverty, child labor and early marriage. Malala said the moving stories the girls shared with her will strengthen her work as an education advocate. Malala visited Kenya recently on behalf of the Malala Fund, a foundation that empowers girls through education.

“I came to Africa to raise awareness about the 58 million children not in primary school who face numerous barriers to education,” Malala said. “I was particularly inspired to meet young girls in Kenya who are so passionate about getting an education, building their future and the future of their country.”

Malala was hosted by Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children, a global organization of children engaged in service and development programs. Free The Children’s young supporters have raised funds to build more than 650 schools and schoolrooms throughout the developing world, while the organization works to topple the barriers to education.

Read the rest. 


Lots of Pennies: Free the Children Penny Drive Raises $1.4 Million, Providing 56,000 People with Clean Water

June 28, 2013 by

Proof is in the pennies: Elementary School Students Pull Wagons Filled with Pennies Up Bay Street to Celebrate Canada’s Largest Youth-Led Penny Drive

To mark the end of the school year, Free The Children and RBC celebrated the incredible fundraising effort of hundreds of thousands of youth and their schools through the “We Create Change” penny drive, yesterday announcing the final total, which outweighs approximately 64 elephants and more than five empty Boeing 747’s. Young people across the country raised 140 million pennies ($1.4 million), providing 56,000 people with clean water for life. All pennies collected were in support of Free The Children’s year-long Water Initiative to provide a permanent source of clean water to people in developing countries.

As Canada’s Largest Youth-Led Penny Drive comes to a close, a caravan of elementary school students pulled 50 red wagons filled with pennies up Bay Street in Toronto today. RBC president and CEO Gord Nixon and co-founder of Free The Children Marc Kielburger were there to welcome the students and their penny wagons into the bank’s Toronto main branch and to congratulate and celebrate their amazing fundraising drive.

“It’s great to be part of something that is truly creating change and I would like to thank all the students and schools who participated,” said Gord Nixon, president and CEO, RBC. “Our long-term commitment with Free the Children supports two very important issues – financial literacy and access to clean water. Today’s results demonstrate how a large-scale, positive impact can be made when we work together — no matter how small or simple those acts may seem.” read more


First U.S. We Day is Tomorrow

March 26, 2013 by

I will be at We Day tomorrow — the first one in the United States.

For some inspiration, I wanted to share a video from Free the Children, which runs We Day.

Stay tuned tomorrow for coverage of the first U.S. We Day — in Seattle!


Free the Children on Piers Morgan Live, Katie Couric Show and more

March 18, 2013 by

Free the Children’s We Day is coming to the U.S. for the first time March 27 (in Seattle), and Craig Kielburger was recently on several TV shows promoting it. On the Piers Morgan Live segment on CNN, which you can watch above, he was joined by celebrity supporters Mia Farrow and Martin Sheen.

“Just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic is getting involved in social issues,” Kielburger told Morgan. “It’s making that part of the school system to create active local and global citizens.”

Watch the Katie Couric segment at

and learn more about the Seattle We Day:


Free the Children’s 60 Minutes Segment

November 26, 2012 by

If you didn’t see Craig Kielburger of Free the Children yesterday, it’s a must-watch. The show interviewed him both in 1996, and now, and follows his path. It’s moving and inspiring.

“Kids are looking to get involved,” he said. “They’re searching for it. And in an era where, you know adults often are looking for meaning and purpose in their lives, kids also want to assert who they are, not just by the videogames they play or the peer groups they belong to, but by the contribution they make. And that’s part of a youth self-identity in the world. And not only is it good for the child, my God, our world needs it.”

Watch here:


Free the Children Will Be On “60 Minutes” Sunday

November 21, 2012 by

This Sunday, 60 Minutes is profiling Craig Kielburger and Free the Children. Watch the promo above for a preview.

“Craig Kielburger set out to change the world 17 years ago as a wide-eyed, 12-year-old full of hope and vigor. He told his story to Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes in 1996. Kielburger knows now there are some things you can’t change, but that hasn’t dampened his spirit or his commitment to Free the Children, the charity he founded in his parent’s living room. Scott Pelley catches up with Kielburger, who is still making a difference for over a million children and families living in desperate poverty around the world. Pelley’s report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Nov. 25 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT.”


Free the Children’s Spencer West on CBS This Morning

July 19, 2012 by

We recently posted about Spencer West, the man who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and donated the money he raised to Free the Children. The funds went to help victims of the East Africa drought, raising awareness and enough support to provide permanent clean water sources to three communities, reaching 18,500 people.

This morning, he was featured on CBS, talking about the challenges he faced. Proof that indeed, we all can “redefine possible.”

“We recently finished filming a segment with 60 Minutes in Kenya, where Scott Pelley was able to join us to capture some of Spencer’s stories from the phenomenal journey.  The interview aired tonight on CBS Evening News, and will also include a special live appearance on CBS This Morning,” Free the Children co-founder Craig Kielburger emailed us. “We are incredibly proud of Spencer’s accomplishments and continue to be inspired by his steadfast commitment to pushing the boundaries on what is possible. We hope you and the Skoll Foundation family can share in the excitement with us as we watch Spencer recount his experiences from the climb and thank you for all of your dedicated support for the organization.”


Legless mountain climber donates $500,000 to Free the Children

June 25, 2012 by

The man with no legs who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro raised half a million dollars (and counting!) doing so — and it’s all going to Skoll awardee Free the Children. That’s because of a trip he took to Kenya with the organization.

Here’s the story he shared with ABC News: 

“After his first trip, he realized he wanted to do more from his life and returned to Kenya a second time. There, he remembers being confronted by a little girl. ‘She said to me, ‘I didn’t know white people had conditions like yours.” He realized that his life might be an inspiration for others.

‘I wanted a job that not only paid well, but made the world a little bit of a better place,’ he said today by phone. ‘That’s what I found in Kenya – not only how to use my story as a career, but then how to use that to give back to these incredible people that have given me so much. And that is wasn’t really so much about material possessions, but actually helping others that made me happy.’

He became a motivational speaker for the organization Me to We, founded by the same people as Free the Children, and started encouraging audiences to overcome their challenges. He decided the climb Kilimanjaro to raise $750,000 for the Kenyans who had “helped me find my passion,” he said. The money would build three boreholes and provide clean water to hundreds of thousands for those who have been struggling from Africa’s worst drought in 60 years.”

Read more:


Jeff Skoll: “The Greatest Canadian You’ve Never Heard Of”

May 22, 2012 by

Two Skoll awardees wrote a piece about Jeff Skoll in The Edmonton Journal, calling him “the greatest Canadian you’ve never heard of.” An excerpt:

“You wouldn’t likely notice Skoll, let alone recognize him, if he passed you on the street. Yet this soft-spoken, unassuming man helped pioneer e-commerce, launched social entrepreneurship and transformed the film industry to make it a force for social good. This Friday, Skoll will be presented with the Order of Canada for his philanthropic work.”


One-Third of Skoll Awardees named to Top 100 NGO list

January 26, 2012 by

The Global Journal,  a new publication aimed at opinion leaders and policy makers in the development sector, has just put out its Top 100 Best NGOs in the World, and 31 of them are Skoll Awardees. They started with a list of 1,000, then narrowed it down to 400, then these. Read about their criteria and metrics. Congratulations to all:

Partners in Health, Barefoot College, Water for People, Pratham, APOPO, Ceres, Digital Divide Data, Teach for America, Landesa, Root Capital, Saude Crianca, Population and Community Development Association, Gaias Amizonas, Tostan, Escuela Nueva, Aflatoun, Gram Vikas, Search for Common Ground, Center for Digital Inclusion, One Acre Fund, Kickstart, One World Health (founder Victoria Hale, is a 2005 Skoll social entrepreneur), Room to Read, Free the Children, IDE-India, Friends International, ICTJ, Witness, International Bridges to Justice, Injaz Al-Arab, and Global Footprint Network.


Google Supports Five Skoll Awardees

December 14, 2011 by

$3.25 Million Grant Supports Hands-On, Expanded Learning Programs

Citizen Schools, a national non-profit that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low-income students, today announced a $3.25 million dollar grant from to support its programs in 17 communities. More than 350 Google employees have volunteered with Citizen Schools since 2006, teaching nearly 100 hands-on courses called apprenticeships. Citizen Schools is one of several dozen organizations receiving grants from at the end of 2011. Other Skoll Awardees getting grants include GoodWeave, CAMFED, Afghan Institute of Learning and Free the Children.

Learn more:




Nelly Furtado donates $1 million to Free the Children

September 27, 2011 by

Singer Nelly Furtado has donated $1 million to international charity and educational partner, Skoll Awardee Free The Children.  The donation, which the singer earned in one concert for the Qadafi family, will fund two new Free The Children programs supporting girls in Kenya and in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).

The announcement was made on stage today by Furtado to more than 18,000 youth following her performance at Free The Children’s We Day event in Toronto, the world’s largest youth empowerment event of its kind. read more


World’s Leading Social Entrepreneurs, including Jude Law of Peace One Day, Speak in Video Series

September 21, 2011 by

Want some inspiration today? Watch one of these new videos from the Skoll World ForumThe first 11 of 47 original interviews with the world’s leading social entrepreneurs are now posted at

The videos (see one, above) were filmed this spring at the premier international social entrepreneurship gathering, the Skoll World Forum, in Oxford, England. They spotlight one-on-one discussions about inspiration, innovation and how to make change that lasts. Interviewees also include’s Gary White and Skoll Global Threats Fund’s Larry Brilliant. read more


Fighting Famine in Somalia with Mia Farrow

September 13, 2011 by

Skoll Awardee Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, recently went to Somalia with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and humanitarian  Mia Farrow. The actress and Kielburger, who also wrote Me to We, met people who lost family members, including a man named Ali.

Here, an excerpt from their blog:

“Where are your other children? Your wife?” we asked the father, quietly. read more


Water is a bridge to peace in the Middle East, Free the Children founders say

July 18, 2011 by

Skoll Awardes Craig and Marc Kielburger of Free the Children have a new column today focusing on something we don’t often think about when it comes to the Middle East conflict: the ecosystem. An excerpt:

“The Jordan River is flooded with sewage, the Sea of Galilee has dipped to historically low levels and the Dead Sea is shrinking. In the Middle East, where disparate communities have fought for centuries over territories linked by these waters, their uncertain future is aggravating political tensions. History is not on its side, but one group hopes to achieve a ‘blue peace’ in this fragile ecosystem. It believes the water that runs across borders can transcend nationhood and ignite talks of political peace. Nature, after all, should be stateless.”

In the column, they talk about Skoll awardee Ecopeace, or Friends of the Earth Middle East, which is working on this very issue. Read the entire article here:–global-voices-water-can-be-a-bridge-to-peace-in-the-middle-east


Natalie Portman and Free The Children’s contest motivates girls to take action

June 22, 2011 by

Actress Natalie Portman and Skoll Awardee Free The Children announced Kate Ashwood as winner of the Power of a Girl initiative, a global call to action to raise money for the new Free The Children secondary school in Kenya.

Around the globe, more than 60 percent of the 110 million children out of school are girls. That’s why for young women living in poverty, access to education not only opens the door to a brighter future, but also leads to positive change for their families and their communities.Fourteen-year-old Kate, who lives in Ottawa, got involved with Free The Children when she attended the Take Action Academy last summer, where she learned about social justice and developed leadership skills. (See a video about the academy, above).

Kate then participated in the Power of a Girl initiative by rallying her community. She organized bake sales and other events at her church to raise money for the new all-girls secondary school, which allows girls to continue their education. (They normally would not go past eighth grade).  “The Power of a Girl initiative motivated me to get out in my community to raise money and awareness for an important cause – the gift of education,” Kate said in a press release. “Girls in Kenya don’t necessarily have the opportunities me and my friends have in North America.  It is important we do our part and help give back.”

The Power of a Girl initiative challenged youth between the ages of 13 and 21 in North America and the U.K. to be the top fundraiser for a chance to win a special prize pack from Academy Award winner Natalie Portman. The top five fundraisers were asked to explain why it’s important to empower girls through education. Kate will receive a letter from Portman, Portman’s Rodarte dress from the Black Swan premiere at the American Film Institute and a “Me to We” trip to Kenya in the summer of 2011, where she will meet some of the girls from the new  school. “Investing in the education of girls is one of the best ways to end the cycle of poverty. When women are empowered they use their knowledge and skills not only for themselves, but also to support their families and better their community,” said Natalie Portman.”To all those who invested their time and passion in the Power of a Girl initiative, I simply want to say thank you.”

Kisaruni Girls’ Secondary School is Free The Children’s first all-girls secondary school in Kenya, opening its doors in January 2011. It supports 40 girls from the rural Maasai Mara region of Kenya. To learn more, visit:


Oscar Nominee, Natalie Portman and International Children’s Charity, Free The Children, Celebrate the Power of Girls

February 2, 2011 by

Toronto, ON, Palo Alto, CA (February 1, 2011) – Today, fashion meets fundraising with the launch of the Power of a Girl, a unique initiative shedding light on the issue of female education in developing nations. Around the globe, more than 60 per cent of the 110 million children out of school are girls. That’s why for young women living in poverty, access to education not only opens the door to a brighter future, but also leads to positive change for their families and their communities.

From now until May 1st, the Power of a Girl is encouraging youth between the ages of 13 to 21 in North America and the U.K., to sign up at and raise funds for Kisaruni, Free The Children’s new all-girls’ secondary school in Kenya. After May 1st, the top five fundraisers/finalists will be chosen and asked to submit an entry about why they think it’s important to empower the world’s girls through education. The contest winner will be announced June 1, 2011. read more


We Day Results: 1,600 School Join Free the Children’s We School’s in Action

November 3, 2010 by

We Day 2010 brought together 18,000 young people to share their passion and interest in making long-lasting change and kick off a year of action. A project of Skoll grantee Free the Children, We Day was held in the Air Canada Centre, Toronto, on September 30 and Rogers Arena, Vancouver, on October 15. In Toronto, We Day welcomed Nobel Laureate Betty Williams, Deepak Chopra, Alexandre Bilodeau, and Jacob Hoggard to name a few. Magician Scott Hammell shocked the crowd with an amazing stunt, students sang along with K’Naan to the lyrics of ‘Wavin’ Flag’, and were brought to tears to hear Dr. Abuelaish’s inspirational story. read more


Free the Children’s We Day Incorporates Social Media Fundraising Campaign

September 28, 2010 by

Free the Children’s We Day celebrations are scheduled for three days across Canada this Fall — Toronto on September 30, Vancouver on October 15 and Montreal on November 12. Free the Children’s Craig and Marc Kielburger started We Day in 2007 as part of a year-long program called We Schools in Action. The Kielburgers are Skoll social entrepreneurs. read more


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