2021 Digital Annual Report

2021 Special Report for Children International

Child poverty is projected to be 10% higher than before the pandemic, resulting in an additional 100 million children in multidimensional poverty.

But, thanks to your generosity, we helped nearly 200,000 sponsored children and their families create positive change in 2021.

Sources: Brookings, September 2021. World Bank, October 2021. Unicef, December 2021.

Program focus areas

Meeting the moment and preparing for the future

In 2021, the pandemic crisis continued to create massive challenges and roadblocks for people everywhere. To help break through those new barriers, the crisis demanded that we change. With your support, we adapted service delivery, listening carefully to our children and families and renewing our focus on their greatest needs. We had more than 200,000 reasons to operate more effectively and with more relevance to the world today. Some of what we thought might be short-term innovations and solutions to address current conditions have instead proven to be long-lasting changes that will evolve our operations and enable our mission beyond the pandemic.

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In their own words

The people driving innovative and effective changes

Health, education, empowerment and employability — all our program pillars work together, building a foundation to help families overcome poverty for good. As the pandemic continued to spread in 2021, we adapted the delivery of these program services, and supplemented them with family economic assistance, knowing our sponsored children needed extra financial support more than ever. Our frontline staff members, volunteers and youth share in their own words how they found innovative and effective new ways to help make our vision a reality.

Edgardo Orozco
employment coordinator

Focus on employability

Virtual working helps Colombia teams collaborate, innovate and deliver

Children International employability programs transitioned to virtual platforms when lockdowns began and continued through 2021. In Colombia, our employment team used text messages and social media posts to promote the HOPE® Scholarship Program and online application process. The response was overwhelming — the agency received more than 1,500 applications, about 400 more than were received in person in 2019.

Veronica, age 19
CI graduate

Renewed emphasis on emotional well-being

Mental health workshops equip our children facing trauma and adversity

Globally, more than one in seven adolescents are living with a diagnosed mental disorder. And, as we enter the third year of the pandemic, mental health, especially for children and youth, is a growing crisis magnified for those living in poverty.

We began addressing this issue in 2021 by offering emotional well-being and resilience workshops in all of our agencies. In 2021, 46,838 children and youth participated in our emotional well-being program, which builds vital life skills, so they can stay mentally healthy and on the path out of poverty.

Ramdas “Appu” Pai
senior advisor

Innovative access to learning

Tablets bridge the digital divide and keep children in schools

The pandemic and subsequent school shutdowns put students, especially those in developing countries, at a disadvantage. Youth in our programs typically had access to computers and the internet in Children International community center libraries, where they worked on homework and learned technical skills.

As centers and schools closed due to the pandemic, young people found it difficult — and sometimes impossible — to continue their educations, even though many schools implemented virtual learning. To prevent further setbacks, we helped 101,205 students bridge the online learning gap and gain access to life skills programming like adolescent health and leadership. We also provided tablets to students — first in Kolkata, India — then throughout our other communities. Thanks to our donors, we were able to deliver more than 3,200 devices to children and youth around the world. Through bulk purchases, our agencies have been able to negotiate discounts of 30% in some cases.

Alvaro Zapata
network systems coordinator

Critical economic assistance

Economic assistance delivers support directly to families

When the pandemic left many caregivers unemployed and families without the means to feed their children, Children International established the Economic Assistance Program. Agencies adjusted their budgets to deliver financial support in all 10 countries and, with additional donations through our Emergency Community Fund, we provided $10.2 million in critical help to cover the most basic needs of 100% of our children and their families around the world.

To better manage resources and increase efficiencies, the Colombia agency developed an ambitious, fast and comprehensive plan for building an entirely new database to help deliver assistance through online banking platforms.

Gabriela Bermúdez
Sperber Community Center coordinator

New ways to connect with families

Digital tools rebuild and enhance community connections

The strength of Children International is in the connections we create and cultivate. Our Connecting With Families Program in 2021 aimed to engage in meaningful communication with sponsored families to ensure they felt heard and supported. In 2021, we reached 100% of our families through innovative and trust-building connection practices.

In Quito, Ecuador, the Sperber Community Center team held virtual community meetings and trained volunteers on digital communication methods to more easily reach families. They also strengthened relationships with local organizations, such as Casa Somos Quito, which offers community workshops, as well as other aid organizations, to make sure the most vulnerable families received help.

Gladys Noblecilla
purchasing manager

Focused operating efficiencies

Telemedicine delivers urgent and necessary health care to families

Children International health teams responded quickly to pandemic closures in early 2020 and spent 2021 shifting our strategy to provide access via telehealth — developing partnerships with government entities and improving our referral networks. As the demand for telehealth services grew, the team in Guayaquil, Ecuador, identified ways to better manage prescription medicine inventory, improve record-keeping, streamline processes and add locations for prescription pick-ups.


The final hurdle on the path out of poverty

Children International’s employability programs unlock doors for our graduates. The programs give youth the means to access the job market, create a path for a productive future and contribute to the growth of their communities. They serve an essential role in advancing our goal of ending poverty by helping youth make a successful transition to adulthood.

Into Employment® graduates land professional jobs

Children International’s Into Employment program allows young people to acquire the basic life and technical skills through a condensed program and land an entry-level job. Meet two graduates of the program now:

Looking back

Realizing the Children International vision through partnerships

In 2021, we focused on building and strengthening partnerships with donors and foundations, governments, nonprofits and local and global companies to ensure a coordinated, widespread response to the pandemic. We are grateful to these entities for sharing resources, building capacity, expanding our reach and increasing overall support for our children and their families. Through the power of partnerships, we realize our vision of bringing people together to end poverty for good.

Here is a look back to celebrate the empathy and compassion our partners demonstrated for Children International families in 2021.

CI health teams reinforce vaccine rollout efforts

Beneath the crisis of the pandemic is an undercurrent of ever-fluctuating misinformation — about treatment, vaccines and mitigation efforts — presenting nearly as strong a challenge to health care professionals as the virus itself. 

Leveraging our partnership with municipal leaders, our health services team worked to fight misinformation about COVID-19. In our global communities, we connected with families, helped as volunteers during national vaccination drives, distributed supplies and served as health care educators. Relying on the long-established trust from our communities, we partnered with municipal health officers and other nonprofits to identify challenges and fill in the gaps. Through this collective effort, we contributed to the vaccination of nearly 49,000 people globally during 2021.

Update on Children International community centers

Our community centers stand as a testament to our long-term investment in our communities. We are eternally grateful for the generous key partners who invest in the centers. Thank you for believing in our children and in the programs Children International provides.


Building Dreams Community Center, Colombia
Inaugurated March 2021 | Lead donor: ZUGU Case
Learn more

Youth Resource Center, India
Construction completed July 2021
Lead donors: Louise Sperber, Dave Sabers
Learn more

The Newsome Family Center, Guatemala
Construction completed January 2022
Lead donors: Adam, Melissa and Brantley Newsome and Forrest Babington; Marie and Steve Macadam
Learn more

Room naming rights are still available. To learn how to leave a lasting legacy in any of these centers, contact your representative or email philanthropy@children.org.

Find up-to-date reopening information on our centers here.

Special thanks to the donors who gave $50,000+ during the 2021 calendar year

A letter from Susana Eshleman
President & CEO

Dear Children International supporters,

New variants and unexpected waves of COVID-19 infections continued to disrupt the lives and well-being of people around the world last year, exposing further inequities in global health and education and reversing progress toward solving global poverty by at least three years. But as the complexities of poverty escalated, the collective power of generosity, ingenuity and resolve among supporters like you gained momentum too. Our 2021 results at Children International stand as proof that when the going gets tough, the tough get together and get going.

The work and impact you helped make possible in 2021 represent what is possible when the tough get going to end poverty. No obstacle is too big to overcome when people like you are inspired by the unlimited potential of children who only need a chance.

With gratitude,
Susana's signature



additional children
with benefits



sponsored children with
access to support



million additional to children and families



young adults had access to employment training

Facts and financials

Susana Eshleman, President & CEO
Bill Brewster, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
Maria Fernanda Corral, Vice President, Global Talent Growth
Jack McCanna, Vice President, Global Programs and Operations
Laura Thornton, Vice President, Marketing & Engagement
Tim Bachta, Vice President, Information Technology
Danielle Mitchell, Controller, Finance

Brad Cloverdyke, Chairman
Marvin Irby, Treasurer
Aviva Ajmera
Steven Berger
David Cacioppo
Liderman Duin
Susana Eshleman
Tara Frank
Ena Williams Koschel
Adam Newsome
Roland Paanakker

funded programs that helped children, youth and families during another challenging year. We are proud of the high requirements we meet to achieve this percentage. With Children International, your money is used efficiently and effectively to transform lives.


View the print report here

Children International ranks highly among charity watchdog groups

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