He is the co-founder of WE Charity, an international development charity and youth empowerment organization.
At the young age of 12, Craig read a newspaper article about a young boy, Iqbal Masih, from Pakistan who had experienced child labour first-hand and was murdered for speaking out about unspeakable child labor practices in his home country. Reading about this, Craig, along with his brother, Marc Kielburger, took an active stance against child labour by organizing a small organization first called Free the Children.
This initiative grew into a lifelong commitment to effect positive change around the world and eventually led to the creation of “WE Charity”.
Craig has continued to actively advocate change by empowering children through education and helping to lift people out of poverty. Due to his advocacy work, Craig has been featured in the media many times. He has been seen on 60 Minutes, the BBC and the Oprah Winfrey Show. He was also the youngest to ever graduate from the Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA program at York University.
Craig Kielburger has been recognized internationally for his philanthropic efforts. He received the Nelson Mandela Freedom Medal and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2007 at the age of 25. He is also the recipient of 15 honorary degrees and doctorates. Having published 12 books, he is a New York Times bestselling author and a nationally syndicated columnist.
“When I’m asked to describe “when it all began,” I think of April 19, 1995. Back then I liked to begin my day with a bowl of cereal accompanied by Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury, and the Wizard of Id. But that morning, I never got to the comics because I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the front page. A small boy was looking out at me defiantly, his arm thrust in the air and his fist clenched. The headline announced: “Battled child labor, boy, 12, murdered.” It was his age that struck me. I skimmed the paper every day in search of the comics, which means I’d ignored plenty of other distressing headlines. But this kid was my age. The article said Iqbal had been sold into bonded labor, chained to a carpet loom, and shot down in the street after he escaped his captors.”
“As kids, Marc and I couldn’t find the support that we needed to give back. So we set out to help others, to show them that it doesn’t have to be a struggle to do good. That’s our purpose at WE: to make doing good, doable.”
“Today, WE is a global movement that’s empowered more than one million people to lift
themselves out of poverty through sustainable development. At home, we empower millions more with service learning programs that enable them to discover their own cause, write their own journey of impact, and make daily choices that better the world. There have been many obstacles along the way and more lessons learned in two decades of social entrepreneurship than anyone needs in a lifetime.”
“We continue our WE Villages global development programs, but we’ve also launched initiatives closer to home. We started a program for families to help raise socially conscious children, called WE Families, because our parents were our biggest champions. We created one for teachers, WE Schools, to bring service learning into the classroom, since all of our educators—Mr. Fedrigoni especially—changed our lives. We built WE Companies to enable social impact because we believe business is responsible for doing good, and will benefit by embracing purpose. Now people come to the WE Movement to discover their cause and take more meaningful actions with educational resources, global service travel opportunities, inspirational events, and socially responsible products that support causes. Every year, more than 2,500 charities are helped by the millions of people who engage with WE.”