Below are eight stories of kids who saw a need in the world and set out to fix it. Hearing the stories of these kids charities will inspire generosity and charity in your own kids.
My kids love stories. And stories about other kids? Even better.
So when it comes to teaching my two daughters about generosity, what could be better than to tell them stories of kids who happened upon a need in society and set out to fix it?
Below is a list of eight kids who founded their own charities. Some of these organizations address local needs and others reach internationally, but all were founded by kids.
My hope is that at the very least when my girls hear these stories they will better understand why it’s important to support and donate to charitable organizations. Even better would be for these stories to inspire ideas about how my daughters could themselves begin non-profit organizations.
Because when kids hear stories of other kids making a difference, it can be empowering. It breaks through mental barriers that say kids are too young to create change, kids don’t have enough experience, enough expertise.
So share these stories with your own kids – watch them be wowed by what other kids have achieved and let that be inspiration for how they and your family can help in your own communities and the world.
And who knows? Maybe one day your own child’s story could be added to this list.
Eight Inspiring Non-Profits Founded by Kids:
Hannah Taylor – The Ladybug Foundation: When she was 5-years-old, Hannah Taylor saw a homeless man eating out of a garbage can on a cold winter day. For the next year she constantly asked her parents: “Why? Why couldn’t everyone just share what they have to end homelessness?”. At age 8, Hannah founded The Ladybug Foundation which has raised over 3 million dollars to fight homelessness in Canada. Hannah is also the founder of a second, separate charity, The Ladybug Foundation Education Program Inc., through which she created “makeChange: The Ladybug Foundation Education Program”, a K-12 resource for use in schools across Canada to empower young people to get involved and “makeChange” in their world.
Craig Kielburger – We.org: One morning over breakfast, 12-year-old Craig Kielburger was flipping through the newspaper when he stopped short on a story: Iqbal Masih, a 12-year-old former child slave in Pakistan, had been murdered because he spoke up for human rights. In that moment, Craig realized he could have been Iqbal but for the fate of where he had been born. From there, Craig determined he had to do something and with the help of some classmates and his brother, WE (then Free The Children) was born – an organization that empowers with a mission to free children and their families to lift themselves from poverty and exploitation. The team has also created WE Villages Adopt a Village, dedicated to development that provides access to five key pillars—education, clean water and sanitation, health care, food security, and alternative income— a combination of key interventions that empower a community to help lift themselves out of poverty.
Janine Licare and Aislin Livingstone – Kids Saving the Rainforest: Janine Licare and Aislin Livingstone were 9 years old in 1999 when they saw the rainforest disappearing from their beloved home in Costa Rica and the negative impact this was having animals, particularly the mono titi monkeys. After becoming dissatisfied with how their donations were being spent with other rainforest charities, Janine and Aislin set out to begin their own organization – Kids Saving the Rainforest. The mission of Kids Saving the Rainforest is to protect the diverse wildlife of Costa Rica’s pacific coast by rehabilitating wildlife, conducting original scientific research, training volunteers, and promoting conservation.
Jonas Corona – Love in the Mirror: When Jonas Corona was 6 he and his Mom would make monthly visits to the local homeless shelter to volunteer. The experience of seeing not only adults but also kids in need inspired Jonas to begin his own organization. Jonas says “every kid should look in the mirror and love themselves” and thus came the name “Love in the Mirror”. The mission of Love in the Mirror is to inspire young people to make a difference through their volunteer commitment of providing disadvantaged youth and their families with basic necessities.
Austin Gutwein – Hoops of Hope: In the spring of 2004, Austin Gutwein watched a video of children who had lost their parents to AIDS. Moved to do something to help these kids, Austin decided to shoot basketball free throws as a way to raise money on World AIDS Day. He shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned that day. Through sponsorships, he was able to raise almost $3,000. From that year forward, Austin organized a shoot-a-thon called Hoops of Hope, that thousands participate in. Hoops of Hope participants have raised over $2.5 million to provide orphans of AIDS access to food, clothing, shelter, a new school, dormitories, a computer lab, two medical centers, and more. (Hoops of Hope is now closed but the schools and medical centers remain)
Annie Wignall – Care Bages 4 Kids: At eleven years old, Annie Wignall began the Care Bags Foundation in 2000 when she discovered there are many kids in crisis situations who have to leave their homes with very few of their own belongings. Annie’s organization creates and distributes fabric care bags filled with essential and comforting items for needy children ages baby-18 years. Over the years, with increased support and donations from businesses, groups, and individuals, along with agencies who hand-deliver the bags, Annie’s idea has grown from a small home-based project helping a few kids in Iowa, into a nationally-recognized nonprofit that provides services to thousands of kids worldwide.
Garrett and Kyle Weiss – FUNDaFIELD: In 2006, Garrett and Kyle Weiss attended the World Cup Soccer games in Germany. At a game between Iran and Angola, they discovered what a privilege it is to play soccer in Angola. Since they were two young American soccer players and had taken for granted cleats, shin guards, and fields to play on, the brothers decided to fund fields for kids in less fortunate areas of the world so they too can take part in the game. In addition to having built 10 soccer fields around the world, FUNDaFIELD says its fields support the rehabilitation and recovery process in post-conflict and post-trauma regions around the world.
Mackenzie Bearup – Sheltering Books: Mackenzie was 13 years old when she began collecting children’s books for shelters in and around Alpharetta, Georgia. It soon became a family project with her 2 brothers, Alex and Benjamin, working alongside her. In total, they have collected and donated over 360,000 books for shelters across the world.
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About Kerry Flatley
Hi! I’m Kerry, the mother of two girls and a certified parent educator. I believe it is possible for parents to have a supportive, loving, and warm relationship with their kids while raising them to be independent and ultimately self-sufficient. Over the years, I’ve read numerous books and articles that support this belief and I’ve put these ideas into practice with my own kids. Read more about me and Self-Sufficient Kids here.