Children International: Why we’re not a ‘children’s charity’

Like pretty much everyone who uses the internet, we sometimes Google ourselves. And we noticed that one phrase that seems to pop up often in relation to Children International is “children’s charity.”

It’s cool that people are searching for children’s charities and that we’re included in those search results. But, to be honest, we don’t really consider ourselves just a “children’s charity.”

Here’s why: What kids’ charities typically do is help those in need, singularly in the form of assistance. But while that technique alleviates the symptoms of poverty, it doesn’t address the root causes. And that’s where we focus our work.

We provide kids with the skills they need to meet their basic needs—and beyond.

We give kids the skills to take care of their basic needs — and beyond.

Our four pillars

Yes, we’re a humanitarian organization, which means we help kids. But we’re also in the business of preparing kids to be their own superheroes in their own lives and in their communities. We do this by offering programs that teach kids life skills they’ll use through each stage of life.

You know that well-worn adage, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime”? Well, that’s a great analogy of the CI Approach.

To help them achieve that goal, we focus on four areas: health, education,  empowerment and employment.

Health: A solid foundation for kids

Being healthy starts with basic hygiene. Something as simple as teaching kids to use soap and water helps reduce cases of pneumonia and diarrhea — two leading causes of death in children worldwide.

Our Youth Health Corps (YHC) educates kids about health and safety — information that will benefit them for years to come. Another great advantage of this program? It prepares them to become peer educators to at least 50 other kids each year. This means the 2,400 YHC teens will ultimately help more than 100,000 kids every year!

That type of real-life experience develops kids into strong leaders. We enhance that skill by giving teens leadership training, too, which strengthens their communication skills even further.

Education: The first step out of poverty

We know that lifting kids out of poverty starts with educating them, and that’s why we take education so seriously. Depending on kids’ needs — based on their age and where they live — our supporters make it possible to give them the specific resources that will most benefit them:

Money itself is a big obstacle to attaining education goals. Our HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty through Education) scholarship offers financial support to both teens who need a little extra help to stay in high school and graduates who need help paying for college or technical school. Students stay in school, and the contributions to their educations pay off in the future.

Empowerment: Giving kids the confidence to succeed

It’s important to tackle issues that exacerbate poverty, such as the lack of meaningful alternatives to negative behavior. So, our programs empower kids by channeling their natural interests, like sports and music.

Sports can teach more than just the rules of the game, though. Many children participate in Sports for Development, a program that shows kids how some friendly competition can prepare them for a lifetime of teamwork.

Another aspect of growing up in poor communities that is often overlooked is social responsibility. So, CI’s Financial and Social Education program teaches social and life skills through age-appropriate activities. Kids learn about their rights and responsibilities, savings and spending, planning and budgeting, and social and financial enterprise.

There’s also a focus on helping CI kids hone their leadership skills so that they can become change-makers in their communities. Thus, our Youth Councils identify community needs and are then given funds to spearhead community improvement projects.

Teens in our Youth Councils recognize their responsibility to the world — which often means driving change in their own communities first.

Employment: Helping youth break the cycle of poverty for good

Ultimately, the best solution for the problem of poverty is access to jobs. Into Employment program® connects kids with meaningful work and gives them on-the-job skills that future employers look for.

Motivated young adults can apply to participate in our Into Employment program, which offers on-the-job skills training employers in their communities are looking for and helps place them in those jobs.

Once they’re ready to enter the workforce, we help them write their résumés, give them mock interviews and help with their job searches. This is a crucial step of empowering kids to take their futures into their own hands.

HOPE (Helping Overcome Poverty through Education) scholarships offer financial support to both teens who need a little extra help to stay in high school and graduates who need help paying for college or technical school.

Helping kids acquire the skills they need by providing opportunities for them to change their own stories is at the heart of the CI Approach. And our supporters are the ones who make it possible. That sounds more like an empowerment vehicle than it does a children’s charity!

Keep reading! Learn all about our innovative programs in the stories below.