WE Charity had changed the game. In its 25 years, the international development charity and youth empowerment movement impacted lives the world over.
Innovation was at its core: while most charities focus on making the world a better place for our children, WE Charity focused on making better children for our world. Founded by the ubiquitous Kielburger brothers, WE Charity operated more like a Silicon Valley start-up than a traditional NGO. From creating stadium-filling events with A-list celebrity ambassadors to building schools, infrastructure, a hospital and even a university at lightning speed, the organization was always full-throttle. Its for-profit partner, ME to WE, filled shelves with socially-conscious products that allowed consumers to track the impact of their spending, invited young people and families to visit and work in communities WE Charity supported and channelled proceeds back into the charity to make it self-sustaining. Unique and disruptive, WE generated energy, engagement, and accolades. But it also bred misunderstanding and, in some quarters, resentment.
With a long history of propelling youth to act in support of myriad causes―making "doing good doable," the slogan went―WE Charity was the ideal candidate to administer the Canada Student Services Grant (CSSG) program. The program, if it had happened, involved matching students within non-profits in a summer in which Covid had stolen most job opportunities. And then, WE Charity in Canada was gone. It didn't crumble. It crashed. Unwittingly caught in the crosshairs of a partisan fight that reflects the increasing "Americanization" of Canadian politics, WE Charity was forced to shutter its doors in Canada.
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