Epitomizing innovation in the philanthropic sector, this year’s Golden Halo Winner for Nonprofits goes to WE.
Started as a Canadian nonprofit organization by brothers Craig and Marc Kielbuger in 1995, Free the Children began as a movement to get young people involved in social change helping other young people abroad. In 2016, the organization merged with social enterprise ME to WE (also created by the brothers) to create WE.
Today, WE is a movement that brings people together and gives them the tools to change the world. WE is made up of two divisions: WE Charity and ME to WE social enterprise, which empower people to make a difference at home and globally. The celebration of that change happens at WE Day – inspiring, life-changing events that take place around the world.
In the US, UK and Canada, WE Day and WE Schools are initiatives that educate and empower young people alongside corporate partners like Allstate, Unilever, Microsoft and Ford and a healthy celebrity cohort. WE Schools is a yearlong educational program that nurtures compassion in students and gives them the tools to create transformative social change.
The ever-popular WE Day is a series of stadium-sized events that celebrate youth making a difference in their local and global communities. In 2016, 200,000 students earned their event tickets to WE Day by taking one local and one global action through the WE Schools program.
Internationally, the organization’s holistic and sustainable international development model, WE Villages, works in eight developing countries to deliver five Pillars of Impact to partner communities: education, water, healthcare, food, and alternate income opportunities. The model focuses on a community’s strengths rather than its problems to mobilize their talents, skills and assets to create sustainable solutions. To date, WE Charity has built more than 1,000 schools and school rooms, giving 200,000 children the opportunity to gain an education, helping families break the cycle of poverty and empowering communities to help themselves.
“WE embodies what’s working in the charitable sector today: innovative and deep partnerships with a wide array of corporate and other partners, including its own social enterprise,” Engage for Good President David Hessekiel said. “WE’s focus on a demonstrably sustainable development model and work to empower today’s youth to become tomorrow’s leaders is commendable and delivers what corporate partners look for in a nonprofit partner.”