Two Minutes With Tea: Kristin Lindsey, CEO of The Global Fund for Children

The mission of The Global Fund for Children is to advance the dignity of children and youth around the world. Since 1997, GFC has given more than $25.6 million in grants to 500 community-based organizations in 78 countries worldwide. Their impact means thousands of children are going to school instead of to work. Thousands more are protecting themselves from HIV, escaping the bonds of slavery, and getting the childhood they deserve.

Since partnering with The Global Fund for Children in 2006, we’ve raised more than $240,000 to support vulnerable children worldwide. Our support for GFC takes many forms. Each fall we design the Little Citizens Give Back Collection-donating all proceeds directly to GFC and three times a year, we hold GFC days, donating a portion of all online sales to the organization. In honor of today’s GFC giveback initiative on teacollection.com ($5 per order!), we have CEO Kristin Lindsey, here on Studio T answering a few questions.

What does it mean to “advance the dignity of children and youth around the world”?

Advancing dignity is about breaking down barriers for all children.  We think all children come into this world with talent, with something important to do with their life.   Dignity means every child gets the opportunity to strive for their potential, no matter their circumstances, economics, gender, nationality, etc.  It means no limits!

How do you find and choose which grassroots organizations to work with?

Our program officers are regional experts who spend countless hours networking and searching for innovative organizations that serve the most marginalized children in the world. We select true grassroots groups with local leadership, community and youth involvement, creativity, and sustainability.

How do you ensure that your investment is wisely spent?

Our program team visits about 150 promising organizations each year, then selects 50 new partners to work with.  Over the course of three to six years, we help them grow and thrive using flexible, strategic investments of money and technical expertise.  We stay in touch, closely tracking their development.  Our giving goes way beyond grants – we hold regional conferences to build networks, we leverage other funding, awards and news coverage, and we aim to be a true partner.  All this means that their work and our investments can grow and last.

Is there one partner organization that touches you in particular?

Kliptown Youth Program (KYP) in Soweto, South Africa is a great example of the power and potential grassroots groups have to transform communities. KYP provides academic support, recreational activities, meals, as well as financial support for school fees and materials, for more than 400 children.  Nearly 40,000 people live in the Kliptown slum, where the community suffers from high rates of unemployment, crime and school dropouts.

KYP has been a GFC grantee partner since 2010 and we were so proud to see KYP’s director, Thulani Madondo, honored as a Top 10 CNN Hero last year. See the video here: CNN Hero

Which issue is the most urgent to you right now?

I think a lot about kids exposed to conflict and war.  It’s hard not to.  Nearly a billion children live in places where there is armed conflict. That means families and children leave everything that’s familiar, live with ever-present fear and chaos, and for children, the vulnerability and upheaval is really traumatizing.   We invest in a lot of groups that are protecting and healing children and families in conflict-affected areas, creating comfort, stability and places to learn.

Which region do you find particularly vulnerable?

Since the Arab Spring that began in 2010, we’ve looked a lot at the Middle East and North Africa and we’re expanding our work in Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon.  While it is a region marked by conflict, it also has emerging civil society and a chance to partner with local community members to make a difference.  Ten years from now, it will really matter if we rise to the opportunity of investing in the dignity, learning, safety and positive pathways for children here.

 

We absolutely love the newest GFC book, Global Baby Girls! Could you explain why little girls need particular attention?

Girls can be powerful agents of change in their communities.  They have the ability to solve some of society’s toughest challenges because they are the fabric that holds families together. The possibilities are limitless for what girls can do today. We owe it to them to make sure they are equipped with what they need to go out into the world and shine.

Where do you see The Global Fund for Children five years from now?

Five years from now, we hope GFC will be top of mind for everyone when they think about how to make the most powerful impact in vulnerable children’s lives. Since 1997, we have touched the lives of nearly 8 million children.  With continued support from generous donors, key partners, companies and students, we expect that number to grow to 10 million by 2015.

Other than donating money through the GFC website, how can we help support The Global Fund for Children?

We love hearing from students because it will be up to them to transform the future of little citizens around the globe.  We encourage schools and universities to contact us to learn more about ways they can help us help other kids around the world.  We’ve had some great fundraising events and speaking engagements with students!

You can also show some love by spreading the word about our work on Facebook and Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you!  AND when you shop Tea Collection, keep us in mind! There’s a donation at check-out option – and any amount goes a long way!

 

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