Background

About Children's Defense Fund

For nearly 45 years, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) has worked to lift children out of poverty, protect them from abuse and neglect and ensure their access to health care, and a high-quality education. The Children’s Defense Fund serves as a catalyst for community outreach programs and champions policies that focus on the needs of the whole child. We believe that every child must have a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and safe passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. As the leading voice for all children in America, the Children’s Defense Fund pays particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color and those with disabilities. A donation to the Children’s Defense Fund is a unique way to honor the memory of a loved one who has made a substantial impact in your life. When you make a memorial gift to the Children’s Defense Fund, not only are you commemorating the life of someone special, you are saying that every child counts; every child matters.

Frequently asked questions

Answered by a team member at Children's Defense Fund

  • What is your mission?

    The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

  • How are donations used?

    Donations will be used to meet the most immediate needs in our work across the United States.

  • What can be done with a $100 donation?

    A gift of $100 can help make many things happen. A gift of $100 will provide a home library of carefully selected and culturally diverse books to two CDF Freedom Schools student scholars. A gift of $100 will help train young seminarians to incorporate child advocacy and social justice into their training for ministry service. A gift of $100 will help provide college preparedness training and college application assistance to high school seniors participating in CDF's Beat the Odds program. A gift of $100 will help ensure that CDF's voice advocating for children remains strong and vibrant and timely.

  • What progress has been made already thanks to your donors?

    12,000 children spent nearly 2.5 million hours learning and growing in Freedom Schools

    100school years’ worth of reading gains achieved

    1,183Servant Leader Interns spent nearly 6,000 days training in classroom instruction, civil rights history, and community activism

    9 out of 10parents/caregivers said they planned to be more engaged in their children’s school work next year

    70,980 engaging, enriching, multicultural books provided to Freedom Schools scholars

    150exceptional high school students received financial support, college preparation, and mentoring through our Beat the Odds® program

    $210,000 in college scholarships were granted to Beat the Odds® honorees

    1,500+ congregationsjoined us in celebrating the annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths

    223Child Defender Fellows learned how to lead nonviolent organizing and advocacy efforts as part of our 15-week training

    2,700 children cast their ballots for the issues that matter most to them during our Children’s Vote 2018 campaign

    450community leaders gathered at Haley Farm for our week-long Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry

    The Family First Prevention Services Actwas successfully passed—which helps vulnerable children stay safely with their families and out of foster care$5.8 billion increase in fundingfor the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, which helps improve the quality of and access to child care

  • What is the history of your organization?

    The Children’s Defense Fund grew out of the Civil Rights Movement under the leadership of Marian Wright Edelman, the first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, Mrs. Edelman directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Miss., worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as counsel for his Poor People’s Campaign and dedicated her early career to defending the civil liberties of people struggling to overcome poverty and discrimination.

    In 1969, Mrs. Edelman began the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm that monitored federal programs for low-income families and, out of that initiative, she founded the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973.

    From our inception, the Children’s Defense Fund has challenged the United States to raise its standards by improving policies and programs for children. Over the years, we have become known for careful research on children’s survival, protection and development in all racial and income groups and for independent analyses of how federal and state policies affect children, their families and their communities. We let the public know how effectively their elected officials stand up for children. Through this work, we have influenced the child policy agenda and helped define the results for which we, as a nation, must strive.

    For decades, we have partnered with numerous organizations and worked with policy makers to build bipartisan support to enact laws that have helped millions of children fulfill their potential and escape poverty because they received the health care, child care, nurturing, proper nutrition and education they deserve.

    Yet, in the wealthiest nation on earth, millions of children still do not get the start in life they need and the opportunities to fulfill their God-given potential. That is why we must continue to be a loud and persistent voice for every child.

  • How much of my gift goes to support program services?

    Eighty-four percent (84%) of every dollar contributed to the Children's Defense Fund directly supports our program services. Sixteen percent (16%) is utilized for fundraising and management services (IT, Human Resources, Finance & Accounting, etc.).

  • How can I find out more?

    Contact the Children's Defense Fund by email at donations@childrensdefense.org or by phone on our donor hotline at (480) 991-1619.

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