Craig and Marc Kielburger are human rights advocates, New York Times bestselling writers, syndicated columnists, and social entrepreneurs. They co-founded Free The Children, an international charity and educational partner that encourages young people to reach their full potential as change-makers.
Free The Children, the world’s largest youth-led charity, operates in eight developing countries and has established over 650 schools and classrooms, educating over 55,000 children every day. More than 6,000 organizations and hundreds of thousands of young people in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom profit from the organization’s creative programming.
As part of its domestic programming, Free The Children empowers young people via its flagship event, We Day, which has attracted 278,000 people to live events since 2007 and reaches over 5.7 million people through televised broadcasts. We Day, which is now held in the United States and the United Kingdom, is one of the world’s biggest charitable gatherings.
Marc has received several awards and accolades, including the Order of Canada, and was named one of the World Economic Forum’s 250 Young Global Leaders. Craig has been recognized for his achievements with 13 honorary doctorates and degrees and the Order of Canada, the Roosevelt Freedom Medal, and the World Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child. The Oprah Winfrey Show, 60 Minutes, CNN, National Geographic, TIME, and The Economist have featured their work.
Here are Five Interesting Facts About WE Charity and Its Founders
Twelve 12-Year-Olds Started WE Charity
It all began 20 years ago with a 12-year-old Canadian kid. Craig Kielburger came across an article in his local Ontario newspaper about another 12-year-old boy from India who was murdered for speaking out against child labor and spured the founding of the community of Twelve 12-Year-Olds.
Craig had the confidence to raise awareness after being influenced by his older brother Marc, who was the one who first introduced him to human rights issues. His 12-year-old crusade consisted of 11 classmates who met on Saturdays, but the turning point came later that year when he traveled to South Asia for seven weeks to learn more about children’s rights. The concept of “Free The Children” was born. Twenty years later, the twelve-year-old Free The Children campaign has grown into WE Charity, a global movement that affects local and global issues such as health, education, the atmosphere, nutrition, social entrepreneurship, etc.
You Must Earn Your Ticket and Be Invited to WE Day
WE Day was founded to honour students who have made a difference in their communities and worldwide. Even though it is a one-day experience, it is a year-long service program that includes studying and improving leadership skills to become engaged citizens.
Without the assistance of sponsors like TELUS and RBC, the WE Day experience would not be possible. WE Day has expanded to 15 events in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, with 200,000 students from over 10,000 schools participating each year. Students from all over the province can participate for free, thanks to Telus, RBC, West Jet, and others.
WE Day is more than just a concert; important issues like cyberbullying, transgender rights, child labour, addiction, physical disabilities, immigration, body image, special needs, eating disorders, mental wellbeing, and overcoming hardship are discussed on stage to inspire hope and raise awareness.
Since 2007, WE Schools have raised $79 million for over 6500 local and global organizations, volunteered 27.6 million hours for local and global causes, and collected nearly 10 million pounds of food for local food banks. Without a doubt, WE Charity is responsible for bringing positive change.
Beyond Students and Schools
Now, WE Schools can be accepted and sponsored by more than just the students. WE Schools have grown to provide services and guidance for WE at Home, WE Families, and even WE at Work as Free The Children has developed into WE. The WE Families Kit is a good way to get started, as it is cool, offers great value, and includes people of all ages.
Products with a Positive Purpose
Consider that the gift you’re giving or receiving (great items to put on your wish list) now serves a reason other than the person who receives it. ME to WE is a creative social enterprise that offers products that make an impact, inspiring consumers to change the world through their daily consumer choices – from jewelry to school supplies.
One great aspect of ME to WE is how WE Charity empowers people to fish instead of just giving them fish. WE Charity gives people the ability to fish for themselves. There aren’t all about handouts or short-term fixes. It empowers people by providing a helping hand, allowing and assisting us in their personal growth, making a positive change and ensuring long-term viability. And you can track the impact of your specific purchase by simply entering the individual code provided on each item.
Awards and Achievements
Craig and his brother Marc co-wrote the book “Me to We” in 2004, and the brothers were awarded the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2008 for their company “Me to We.” Meanwhile, Free the Children continued to expand rapidly, and Craig continued to travel to developing countries and meet with their representatives to secure financial support for the goal of ending child labor.
Craig works as a writer for several respected publications, including The Huffington Post, Waterloo Region Record, Victoria Times Colonist, and Vancouver Sun, aside from his charitable activities and social advocacy. He and his brother, Marc, also co-write a daily column called “Ask the Kielburgers” in The ‘Globe and Mail.’To learn more about different charitable organizations around the world, be sure to read through this charitable brands and partnerships reference guide. The more information out there about different charities in the world, the better!