Our Development Model

Kenyan students infront of their new school

Adopt a Village

Because it takes a village to raise a child

If we’re going to help children break free from poverty, we must first empower their mothers, improve their schools, outfit their health clinics and build their water facilities.

In Africa, Asia and Latin America, Free The Children works with communities to establish a comprehensive, child-focused development approach that gives all community members the education, skills and opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty—forever.

No problem or solution stands alone

We know that there is no single solution to ending poverty—but there are many solutions that, together, get the job done.

Designed to meet the basic needs of all members of a community and eliminate the obstacles preventing children from accessing education, Adopt a Village is a unique sustainable development model made up of five core pillars:

  1. Education
  2. Clean Water and Sanitation
  3. Health
  4. Alternative Income and Livelihood
  5. Agriculture and Food Security

Never needing charity again

We believe that success is achieved when someone never needs charity again. We’ve found that only Adopt a Village can accomplish this.

Building a healthy community through the Adopt a Village model is like building the framework of a house. Each pillar provides crucial support, without which we would not be able to support an entire community and it’s long-term development.

Our Mission

Sustainability and community ownership is the goal of all of Free The Children’s Adopt a Village projects.

From the very beginning of our work in a community, we work closely with the government to ensure that local community members are empowered and have real ownership over each Adopt a Village project, be that a school room, a school garden or a student environmental club.

Where We Work

Adopt a Village supports community development in areas where there exists a high incidence of child labour, exploitation of children and minimal opportunities for the girl child.

Currently, Adopt a Village is implemented in:

Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ghana,  Ecuador, Haiti, Nicaragua, rural China and India.

Adopt a Village Map

Research shows that our programs have a lasting impact

Through Adopt a Village, Free The Children reports:


“650+”,”schools and school rooms built, allowing for the education of 55,000 children every day.”,”$16,000,000″,”worth of medical supplies shipped around the world.”

“30,000”,”women with economic self-sufficiency.”,”1,000,000+”,”people provided with clean water, health care and sanitation.”


Why Adopt a Village is Different

Typical charity models vs. Adopt a Village




EducationSchools are built, but without access to a source of clean water. Many girls are responsible for fetching water and thus unable to go to school. Clean WaterOur schools are equipped with or built near a source of clean water, giving girls the time and opportunity to attend class and ensuring students and their families stay healthy avoid water-borne illnesses
Alternative IncomeMicro-loans are given to community members who wish to start their own business. Unfortunately,  business owners are often faced with unexpected illness, wiping out their savings and causing their business to fail. EducationOur health care programming educates children and community members on healthy practices, like washing one’s hands and eating healthy. This ensures community members stay healthy, and their savings can be invested in businesses.
Clean WaterWater projects are built but when one of them breaks—a water pump for example—the community often cannot afford to make the necessary repairs and their source of clean water is gone. Alternative IncomeOur alternative income programming ensures that communities not only have the means to repair water projects, they can also pay for school fees, support medical projects and reinvest into farms—all of which ensure sustainability of our projects.
HealthMedical clinics are built or supported, but food security is not dealt with. Symptoms of hunger, the world’s leading cause of compromised immune systems, are treated but the actual issue is not addressed. HealthOur schools often have nutrition programs and vegetable gardens, helping prevent illness and ensuring students and the entire community have access to a proper diet.
Agriculture and Food SecurityAgricultural investments are made, but without supporting educational programming. Community members don’t have the education to manage their farms as businesses and the confidence to adopt new farming practices. Agriculture and Food SecurityAgricultural programming implemented in both schools and the community, ensuring students have the skills and education to support their parents agricultural projects.


Effective, cost effective and sustainable

  • Our outcomes are highly aligned with the Millennium Development Goals, which represent the full spectrum of barriers to poverty reduction.
  • Our model is structured to maximize the return on investment; activities and programs produce complementary, reinforcing outcomes.
  • Adopt a Village communities have demonstrated increased ownership over their continued growth.
  • We work to build strong relationships and commitments from local governments, Ministries of Education, and community leadership to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of all components of Adopt a Village.
  • Local knowledge, assets and environment are the foundation of all our work, providing innovative and locally sustainable solutions.

 A rights-based model built on community need and ownership

  • We are not only helping communities realize their rights (such as a primary education) but building awareness of their basic human rights and ensuring long-term impact.
  • We address inequity based on gender, ethnicity and socio-economic status.
  • Our collaborative approach ensures we employ staff on the ground in each country who oversee the quality and integrity of all projects.
  • This staff works in partnership with the communities on an on-going basis, regularly monitoring and evaluating all programs.
  • Prior to undertaking any development intervention, country staff carry out needs assessments which include a survey of the community’s development issues, strengths, resources and priorities for change.
  • We only work in communities to which we have been invited and rely heavily on the guidance of community members to select and prioritize the most appropriate projects and activities—those that not only address specific community needs, but which can be implemented sustainably and in concordance with local custom and culture.


  • We focus not on one facet of development—water, education, health care, etc. We focus on what communities really need: a holistic solution to ending poverty.
  • We do not give hand-outs; we do not merely give a home or a pair of shoes or other personal items. Instead, we seek the greatest benefit through investing in the community infrastructure.
  • Our model is structured to maximize the return on investment as activities and programs produce complementary, reinforcing outcomes.
  • Each core model pillar enhances the other, ensuring the greatest impact and long-term sustainability

Development Change Model