About WE Charity
Craig and Marc Kielburger believe in the power of WE to bring people together to change the world. The brothers joined forces to found a family of projects all dedicated to empowering people to live with dignity and to break the cycle of poverty. The Kielburgers have always understood that all people have a role to play in making our world a better place, regardless of their age.
When Craig was twelve years old, his life changed after he read a news article about Iqbal Masih, a twelve-year-old Pakistani boy who was killed for speaking out against child labour. Craig understood that even though he may himself be young, he had to take action. He approached his school friends and inspired them to join him in his mission to end child labour. Headquartered in the Kielburger living room, Craig, Marc, and those motivated friends began their journey to create positive change in the world by creating a group called Free the Children. From this passionate yet modest beginning, a movement has developed that has encouraged thousands of people, from school children to business leaders, to ask themselves: “Why NOT me?”
Marc and Craig, Brothers and Colleagues
Both Craig and Marc find that their differences complement one another, allowing them to work together effectively and to grow WE Movement. The brothers have found a natural leadership balance as Craig spends a good amount of time on the road while Marc focuses his efforts on the team in Canada.
Craig pursued a degree in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Toronto and then became the youngest person to graduate from the Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA Program at York University. A prolific writer, Craig is a New York Times bestselling author and he publishes a nationally syndicated column.
Many institutions have recognized Craig for his outstanding work and achievements in the fields of education and human rights by awarding him a total of 15 honorary doctorates and degrees. He has received the Order of Canada, the Nelson Mandela Freedom Medal, and the World’s Children’s Prize. In a Reader’s Digest poll, Craig was voted by Canadians as one of Canada’s most trusted influencers. In 2015, he and his brother Marc were jointly named Canada’s Most Admired CEO in the public sector.
Marc attended Harvard where he earned a degree in International Relations. He continued his education as a Rhodes Scholar and completed a law degree at Oxford University. He has been awarded ten honorary degrees in recognition of his outstanding work in the fields of human rights and education. Marc is also a New York Times bestselling writer and public speaker.
Marc was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In addition, he was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame on account of his humanitarian work and determination to help empower young people. With his brother Craig, he was also named Canada’s Most Admired CEO in the public sector.
WE Charity Makes Caring Cool
WE Movement is different as it offers a hand up, not a handout. WE Movement is committed to transforming communities in a way that is holistic and sustainable. The organization empowers communities by giving them the resources to play a central role in lifting themselves up from poverty.
WE Movement has both a domestic focus with programs like WE Schools and WE Day as well as global reach with programs like WE Villages. This family of programs touches the lives of both the givers and the recipients, creating a global community of people committed to working together to help one another.
WE Schools Believes That Students Can Generate Change
The WE Schools program provides educators and students with curricula, educational resources, and campaign ideas that spur the students on to local and international social action. Furthermore, the yearlong educational program not only provides academic resources, but also gives young people practical tools to create impactful social change.
WE Schools offers a unique, four-step plan delivered by educational partners in 16,000 schools and groups across North America and the UK. Students are encouraged to identify the local and global issues that speak to them. They then gain an understanding of the root causes of both domestic and foreign plight, such as environmental change, poverty, and hunger, and they develop strategies to make a positive impact.
WE Day Celebrates Young People Making a Difference
WE Day is a powerful and uplifting experience that reaffirms the belief that today’s young people are truly the stewards of a brighter future. At WE Day, attendees are inspired and encouraged by world-renowned speakers and performers. These electrifying, arena-sized events are made for people who earn their way in by supporting at least one local and one global cause.
WE Villages Transforms Lives and Creates Lasting Change
WE Villages is a powerful answer to the question of how to create sustainable change and break the cycle of poverty. WE Villages created an international development model that addresses the five primary causes of poverty through holistic and sustainable solutions that work hand-in-hand to transform communities. This unique approach gives people the resources they need to change their lives and communities. WE Villages is making a lasting impact by creating sustainable, transformational change in developing countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and rural China.
WE Five Pillars of Imapct:
Without water, communities cannot grow. WE Villages explores options for communities to have access to sustainable sources of clean water for drinking, irrigation, and sanitation. Through the work of WE Villages, over one million people now have access to safe, clean drinking water. This helps to remove barriers to education by reducing illness and relieving girls from the obligations of traveling long and time-consuming distances to bring water to their families.
A healthy community is a sustainable community. Healthy children are able to attend school and better able to learn. Families who have access to health care can keep their children in school rather than being forced to rely on them to run farms when parents become ill. WE Villages provides health training, builds clinics, and ensures that developing communities have access to medical supplies.
WE Villages works with communities on programs that promote food security and improved agriculture. When food is no longer as scarce, communities can start building the infrastructure needed to address other issues. Through irrigation programs and improved farming methods, farmers assisted by WE Villages have grown and harvested over 15 million nutritious meals for their communities.
Educated children receive the tools and self-confidence to better themselves, their families, and their communities. They are the ones who will likely be the leaders of the next generation.
While WE Villages has built over a thousand schools and school rooms, WE’s efforts to improve the fundamental need for education goes beyond that. WE provides extracurricular programs, teacher training, textbooks, and basic school supplies that enable the children to concentrate on their studies with dignity. As a result, over 200,000 children have received an education.
An integral part of lifting people and communities out of poverty is to give them opportunities to earn an income. WE Villages helps parents, especially mothers, develop new economic opportunities through leadership, financial literacy, and vocational training workshops.
ME to WE Turns Retail into a Win-Win
Many charities move from one humanitarian crisis to the next, dependent on donors to fund projects. When the funding dries up, they often have to pack up and go home. Craig and Marc believed that there was a better way to approach charity. They both understood that transforming communities requires an independent source of funding. Under the mentorship of Jeff Skoll, the brothers established ME to WE.
ME to WE is a social enterprise that works to create sustainable change by enabling consumers to make purchases that give back and to travel in a way that benefits both them and others. Half of the profits from the enterprise are donated to WE Charity and the other half is reinvested back into ME to WE itself. In addition, purchases from ME to WE benefit the communities that make its products. Through the partnership with ME to WE, WE Charity has been able to achieve an incredibly low operating cost and to ease its dependence on funding from donors.
Purchasing beautiful handcrafted jewelry supports artisans in places such as Kenya and Ecuador. For example, the ME to WE Artisans program offers exquisite handcrafted jewelry made by more than 1,500 women in WE Charity partner communities. The income received from the sale of these items helps the talented artisans earn what they deserve and assists them in providing for their families.
ME to WE Travel Offers a Road Less Taken
ME to WE works closely with WE Charity and its WE Villages program to take travelers to places where they can become immersed in a new culture not as tourists, but as welcome family members. Every trip offers the highest level of Signature Service that is an extension of ME to WE’s core values. Travelers stay in beautiful accommodations and receive the greatest care from the staff. The tours create economic opportunity for the communities visited and act as a powerful agent of change for them while giving the guests a profound experience.
Your Experience, Your Way
ME to WE offers two different types of trips—volunteer trips and cultural immersion trips.
In a volunteer trip, participants connect with other like-minded travelers who have chosen to give back by spending time in a WE Village community. Youth, university, and corporate groups work side-by-side with community members on a sustainable development project, such as laying the foundation for a school.
The cultural immersion trips are opportunities to bring guests closer to WE Charity’s partner communities. Travelers gain a new perspective on the world as they engage with a new culture and bond with local community members. Through hands-on experiences, they cultivate a deeper understanding of different traditions, customs, and environments. ME to WE creates travel with a purpose that builds lasting bridges between these villages and their friends from abroad.
“In the pink hills of India’s Aravalli Mountains, you’ll be welcomed into village homes to make chapatti with the local women. In the Amazon’s cloud forest in Ecuador, you’ll visit a cocoa farmer to help with the harvest. In Kenya’s Maasai Mara, you’ll walk with the mamas to the Maasai River to collect water. WE has an ongoing partnership with each community so travelers are welcomed like friends and partners in social impact, not temporary visitors.” – Craig Kielburger, Holly Branson, and Marc Kielburger — authors of WEconomy