Save the Children

Grade Level: 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Global Issues
Human Rights
Save the Children
The vision of Save the Children is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development, and participation. Its mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. Save the Children was started by Eglantyne Jebb in 1919 to bring aid to children in war-torn Europe. She wrote the first draft of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Save the Children is a global leader in newborn and child health in educating leaders about the needs of children who die of preventable diseases.

Written by DeAirra Goss with some content from an earlier edition by



Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children. This organization believes every child deserves a future (Save the Children). Its vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development, and participation. Its mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. Accountability, ambition, collaboration, creativity, and integrity are values that have significant roles in this organization’s success (Save the Children).  Save the Children does whatever it takes for children, every day and in times of crisis, to transform their lives and the future we share (Save the Children).


Historic Roots

Eglantyne Jebb, an Oxford-educated teacher and social reformer, founded the Save the Children Fund in England in 1919. Jebb was arrested in April of that year in Trafalgar Square for handing out leaflets featuring photographs of starving Austrian children that had not been cleared by the government censors (Mulley 2012). After Jebb was found guilty, the judge was impressed with her commitment and paid her fine (Save the Children). This donation initiated the Save the Children Fund and the judge’s money became the first contribution. “We cannot leave defenseless children anywhere exposed to ruin — moral or physical,” she said. “We cannot run the risk that they should weep, starve, despair and die, with never a hand stretched out to help them” (Save the Children).

In 1932, a group of forward-thinking Americans were inspired by Jebb’s vision to establish Save the Children in the United States. The immediate goal was to help the children and their families struggling to survive during the Great Depression in the rugged mountains of Appalachia. Since then, at the heart of Save the Children’s philosophy has been the concepts of self-help and self-reliance — the belief that development is a process by which people take charge of their own lives.

Today, in more than 120 countries, including the United States, Save the Children is transforming children’s lives by providing families and communities with the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty. While Save the Children programs are diverse, its mission is singular – to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. Save the Children sees its role as that of a catalyst in community evolution. It favors a multi-disciplinary approach, acknowledging that the problems of poverty, illiteracy, and poor health are complex and interrelated. Innovation and experience have been the keys to Save the Children’s success.



As a global leader in newborn and child health, Save the Children has a unique and credible voice on children’s health issues. It is recognized in the technical and global health community for key research and policy work on newborn health and for advocacy on behalf of maternal, newborn, and child health. As a leading contributor to these fields, Save the Children is committed to placing child survival on the agenda of the United States by educating opinion leaders who can encourage greater emphasis and greater media attention given to this global tragedy.

Protecting children is of high priority and a significant factor of Save the Children’s vision as an organization. Save the Children protects children from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence in all regions of the world (Save the Children). They’ve developed programs that concentrate on children that are at risk, aspiring for the security of all children. Some examples of the child protection program activities include creating child friendly spaces in emergencies, reunifying separated and unaccompanied children with their families in emergencies, developing public awareness campaigns against child trafficking, piloting training programs for social workers to provide supportive care to families and children, and advocating for more effective national protection policies and child welfare reform (Save the Children).


Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

Jebb was driven not by a sentimental concern for individual children, but by a passionate, undiscriminating, humanitarianism that many had lost sight of at the end of the war (Mulley 2012). She believed that all people were responsible for taking action for the common good. She advocated for all people coming together to help children. She said in 1928, "Mankind as a whole is responsible for the world as a whole, and the people of every race should unite to get rid of such evils as child slavery, premature marriage, child labor and neglect and starvation of children." 

Eglantyne Jebb was not only the founder of Save the Children, she was also the author of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1923). These declarations were adopted by the League of Nations in 1924 and became widely known by nations around the world. Variations of this document have been written and adopted. The most recent version became international law in 1990 and is the basis for the work of Save the Children.

Recognized for its commitment to their values like accountability and innovation, Save the Children works in the heart of communities, where it helps children and families help themselves. It works with other organizations, governments, non-profits, and a variety of local partners while maintaining its independence, free of political agendas or religious orientations.


Key Related Ideas

  • Child health is an important area of focus for Save the Children. Today, 16,000 children under 5 years old will die from common illnesses that can be prevented and treated (Save the Children).  The organization is committed to partnering with governments and key stakeholders to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2030 of ending preventable deaths and meeting the child survival target of 25 deaths per 1,000 live births (Save the Children). Save the Children works directly with front line health workers to help better train and support them as child healthcare is crucial to keeping children alive and safe.  
  • Education is another essential area of focus. Save the Children supports teachers, community volunteers, and parents alike by giving them the tools and training to positively impact children’s education.  Educators also embrace concepts like Kids Helping Kids, by actively participating in fundraising.  Events like bake sales, car washes, and walk-a-thons executed by children have shown how profound millennial giving can be.


Important People Related to the Topic

  • In 1931, Mahatma Gandhi signed the Declaration of Geneva, which was the Declaration of the Rights of the Child written by Eglantyne Jebb. He, along with many other great leaders, supported children’s rights. 
  • In 2010, Save the Children hosted a panel discussion and book signing for 100 donors, partners, and friends at the Ana Tzarev Art Gallery. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN, moderated a panel which included Anne M. Mulcahy, Save the Children board chair and former chairman and CEO of Xerox; Dr. Abhay Bang, a neonatal expert from India; and Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and author of The Life You Can Save
  • Former New Jersey Governor, Jon Corzine co-chairs the Newborn and Child Survival Campaign Council with Senator William Frist from Tennessee. 
  • Save the Children Artist Ambassadors lend their names, faces and personal interests to various Save the Children programs about which they feel particularly passionate, including early education, literacy, and nutritional and disaster relief programs that give a vital boost to children in struggling families and difficult circumstances. Artist Ambassadors include America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, Julianne Moore, Joely Fisher and Randy Jackson.


Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national mentoring network organization with several local communities where adults mentor youth. Their mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
  • Child Find of America is a national not-for-profit organization that provides outstanding professional services designed to prevent and resolve child abduction and the family conflicts that can lead to abduction and abuse. Their overall vision is to help create a world in which every child thrives in a safe, healthy, and legal environment.
  • Junior Achievement is a national organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. Junior Achievement's purpose is to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.


Reflection Question - What are ways more children can help other children in need of assistance?



  • Mulley, Clare. “Eglantyne Jebb, 1876-1928, Founder of Save the Children and champion of children’s rights.” HerStoria, August 19, 2012.
  • Save the Children. Child Protection.
  • Save the Children. Child Health.
  • Save the Children. Our Founder: Eglantyne Jebb.
  • Save the Children. Our History.
  • Save the Children. Our Mission, Vision, and Values.
  • Save the Children. Who We Are.


This paper was developed by students taking a Philanthropic Studies course taught at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University in 2017. It is offered by Learning To Give and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.