fighting poverty by empowering children

To truly end generational poverty, young people need to complete their secondary education and have the skills needed to prepare them for a successful future. Children must have hope and see possibilities for themselves beyond their current circumstances. Your support of our Life Skills Programs brings about life-changing attitudes and actions that help children and youth become positive forces in their lives and communities.

There are three main focal points of these programs:


Youth participants receive training in community participation and develop leadership skills. Ambitious youth can then use those leadership skills in team activities, like Model United Nations clubs, debate teams, and Destination Imagination.

Arts and

Children and youth can participate in various disciplines of arts and organized sports, as well as other activities. Specific activities vary by regional interest and need, with a focus on physical and emotional fitness and developing social skills.


Emphasizing vocational guidance as teens approach graduation, long-term goals and “soft skills” are developed. This serves as a prelude to our employability programs.

    Here are some of the ways we work to empower children:

    Games and sports

    Why: Games and sports not only teach the value of teamwork and empathy, they build life skills like self-awareness, problem-solving and the ability to cope with emotions or stress.


    Why: Art forms like dance, singing, music, drawing, painting and theater help sponsored children and youth learn to express their emotions in new and creative ways. Additionally, they develop life skills like decision-making, communication, self-awareness and problem-solving.

    Youth Council

    Why: As democratically elected Youth Council members, youth learn to manage funds and spearhead projects like neighborhood cleanup initiatives or community literacy programs, while building leadership skills and helping create solutions for their communities.

    Financial Education & Responsibility

    Why: Using a proven curriculum from partners like Aflatoun, participants receive social and financial education that empowers them to make a positive change for a sustainable future. Aflatoun programs have inspired young people to become entrepreneurs or continue their education with the ultimate goal of making an impact in their communities.

    Did you know?

    Direct links between empowerment and breaking free from poverty are real. Self-confidence, personal responsibility and aspirations for the future are associated with an increase in the ability to escape poverty. Check out more facts about poverty and empowerment here.


    More of the story

    Each year, we survey the youth in our programs and analyze the results. The outcome is our annual Youth Report Card. This comprehensive report provides detailed evidence that youth graduating from our program are more capable, confident and ready to improve their lives and communities.


    Why focus on empowerment?

    In many impoverished communities, children have never seen an example of a person or families pulling themselves out of poverty. They can’t imagine it. It’s too hard to believe. That’s why it’s crucial to give children the tools to create lasting change in their life and the confidence to lead their family out of poverty. Our programs foster social responsibility through leadership, life skills and employment training workshops so children are empowered to make an impact for the next generation.


    What gets measured?

    Empowering children means equipping them with life-skills and social responsibility. When we measure empowerment, we look at the following:

    • Strengthened life skills, measured by the percent of individuals who self-report having a strong competency in the long list of essential life skills as defined by the World Health Organization.
      Life skills include: self-awareness, critical thinking, effective communication and more.
    • Increased social responsibility, measured by data that identifies the percent of individuals who self-report having a strong competency in social responsibility.
      Social responsibility includes: Empathy, conflict resolution, valuing group work and more.
    Fast Fact: Some of our artists are going International. Due to their dedication, leadership skills and talent, two of our young musicians from the Dominican Republic were invited to perform at the OneWorld Symphony Festival in Washington, D.C.
    Results in Action

    Sport for Development

    Nearly 19,500 children participated in our Sport for Development program in 2018. The program helped children practice life-skills and revitalized disadvantaged communities. 94% of children said playing sports in their community created a caring climate, while 93% said it made them value group work.


    In 2018, over 6,800 young artists and musicians performed or held exhibits in their communities.

    Youth Council

    Youth Councils across all Children International locations created projects that helped over 150,000 people in their communities.


    Aflatoun International serves 5.4 million internationally, including Children International sponsored youth.

    Programs tailored to fit the need

    Around the world, every community has distinct needs and suffers from its own set of obstacles. In the Dominican Republic, 20% of girls under 18 become pregnant. While in Colombia, the high rate of poverty leads to an increase in gang affiliation among youth. Our team assesses the conditions in every country we serve to create specific programs that help children overcome the challenges of their community and end poverty for good.

    Let’s talk about giving

    If you’re interested in making a major gift to Children International programs, please contact our Global Philanthropy team at 816-943-3834 or legacy@children.org.

    Empower Edilma

    A natural leader, Edilma became the first girl to play on the youth program's soccer team and ultimately began encouraging other girls to play as well. Breaking down barriers helped Edilma envision a better future for herself and believe her dreams were possible.

    How will your support help?

    Children enrolled in our program have access to the right mix of resources, based on location, age and life circumstances. Through sponsorship’s foundational programming, children and youth gain the skills and confidence they need to create promising futures. The last step on a young person’s path out of poverty is employability training that equips them with the knowledge they need for sustainable employment and financial stability.

    Learn more about Into Employment

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