The Freechild Institute focuses on youth changing the world. Our theory of change focuses on youth engagement throughout the world around them, in meaningful, empowering relationships that bring about social change. By becoming connected with organizations committed to social change, young people acknowledge their interdependence and build their communities.
In assessing moral issues, interdependence shows us that we cannot isolate ourselves from the harmful or criminal act of ‘another,’ we cannot pretend the criminal or the pirate is bad and I am good, because all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs.—Thich Nhat Hanh
The following list of organizations has been compiled to provide a broad array of opportunities for young people and their adult allies to join together in large movements for social change, affecting individuals, communities, and the world.
Adbusters Media Foundation — Adbusters describes itself as “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.” Adbusters publishes a glossy, provocative magazine of the same name, sponsors Buy Nothing Day and TV Turnoff Week, produces clever “uncommercials” and seeks to agitate so that folks “get mad about corporate disinformation, injustices in the global economy, and any industry that pollutes our physical or mental commons.”
AFL-CIO — The AFL-CIO is the largest labor organization in the United States. Its website includes abundant information on organizing campaigns, links to member unions, news articles on union drives, updates on student activism, and sections on union culture and history.
American Friends Service Committee — This venerable social justice organization has a Mexico-U.S. Border Program and publishes an assortment of resources. AFSC also has a Youth and Militarism project that organizes against JROTC and military presence in public schools. The Cambridge, Massachusetts AFSC publishes Peacework, a monthly journal serving movements for nonviolent social change. AFSC also maintains a film and video library.
Amnesty International USA — AI seeks to promote the human rights included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, focusing especially on prisoners of conscience, ending the death penalty, and combating torture. Amnesty’s website includes the complete text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as numerous links to human rights groups around the world, articles, video clips, reports, and action opportunities.
Catholic Worker Movement — The Catholic Worker Movement is “grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person.” Since its founding in 1933 they have protested war, violence and injustice in all forms. Its journal is The Catholic Worker.
Changemakers.net — A monthly journal of stories about system-changing, problem-solving initiatives undertaken by social entrepreneurs from around the world.
Clean Clothes Campaign — A coalition of European groups aiming to improve working conditions in the global garment industry. Conducts campaigns and provides information on companies such as Adidas, Benneton, C & A, Disney, Phillips-Van Heusen, Gap, H & M, Levi-Strauss, Nike, and Otto.
Green America — Valuable information on sweatshops, consumer boycotts, and strategies to use “consumer and investor power for social change.” Co-op America is a national nonprofit organization that helps individuals find businesses that are environmentally responsible and engage in fair trade, and offers technical assistance to companies aiming for social and environmental responsibility.
The Council of Canadians — This independent organization provides analyses on key issues from a critical and progressive standpoint. Its director, Maude Barlow, is perhaps the leading critic of schemes to privatize the world’s freshwater supplies.
CorpWatch — Indispensable resources and news about globalization and justice struggles around the world. An online issue library includes topics such as biotechnology, Globalization 101, grassroots globalization, sweatshops, the WTO and the IMF/World Bank. Very extensive links. A similarly valuable but unrelated site is Corporate Watch.
Cultural Survival — Cultural Survival sponsors basic research on indigenous peoples, particularly examining the effects of “development.” The results of this research are published in its Cultural Survival Quarterly. The website includes an education archive with curriculum resources offered, including Rainforest Peoples and Places (grades 6-9), The Chiapas Maya (grades 6-12) and the Rights of Indigenous Nations.
The David Suzuki Foundation — David Suzuki is one of the world’s leading geneticists and environmentalists. The foundation is especially active in the area of climate change, focusing on the “urgent need for practical strategies to reduce global warming caused by human activities.”
Focus on the Global South — Too often discussions of globalization are dominated by those of us in the North, however well-intended or well-informed we may be. Focus on the Global South’s website features wonderful, hard-to-find, in-depth articles from the perspective of activists and scholars in the global South ÷ the so-called Third World. See their “publications” section.
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy — Food First describes itself as “a peoples think tank and education-for-action center.” Over the 25-plus years that this pioneering organization has been around, it has published some of the most useful books on food and hunger issues. Through its publications and activism, it continues to offer leadership to the struggle for reforming the global food system from the bottom up. The catalog is online at their website.
Friends of the Earth — Friends of the Earth is a national environmental organization dedicated to preserving the health and diversity of the planet. FOE distributes valuable publications ranging from books on global warming to the IMF’s effects on the environment.
Global Exchange — Founded in 1988, Global Exchange is an organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political, and social justice around the world. In the late Î90s, Global Exchange was perhaps the most important organization drawing attention to Nike’s sweatshop abuses. Their expansive website gives a flavor for the diversity of activities they have initiated, which include “people to people” projects, such as “reality tours” to Third World countries, managing “fair trade” stores, and publishing resources on global justice issues. Global Exchange is one of the key global justice organizations.
Greenpeace International / Greenpeace USA — Greenpeace began in 1971 when activists went to “bear witness” to nuclear weapons testing planned for Amchitka island, off Alaska. Today Greenpeace is one of the leading organizations using nonviolent direct action to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to what the organization hopes will be a “green and peaceful future.” It sponsors campaigns on global warming, environmental toxics, destructive fishing, genetic engineering, nuclear power and weapons, and saving ancient forests. Both websites feature extensive background materials on these issues, action alerts, ways to get involved, and numerous links to other organizations.
The Independent Media Center — This is the CNN of the global social justice movement and a wonderful resource. The Center acts as a clearinghouse of information and provides up-to-theminute reports, photos, audio, and video footage of global social justice struggles through its website. Launched during the Seattle WTO protests of late 1999, Indymedia is a fascinating, colorful site. Updated regularly. Great graphics.
The Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism — The IPCB is organized to assist indigenous peoples in the protection of their genetic resources, indigenous knowledge, and cultural and human rights from the negative effects of biotechnology.
Corporate Accountability International — A non-partisan national grassroots organization whose purpose is to stop life-threatening abuses by transnational corporations. Articles posted on their website, like “The Marlboro Man Goes Overseas,” could be used with students.
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy — The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, and advocacy. Their website includes background readings, articles, and forums on vital issues of agriculture and trade.
Institute for Global Communications (IGC) — “The mission of IGC is to advance the work of progressive organizations and individuals for peace, justice, economic opportunity, human rights, democracy and environmental sustainability through strategic use of online technologies.” IGC is an outstanding resource, with a fabulous search engine that is linked to social justice networks of all kinds.
Institute for Policy Studies — An important think tank on global issues from a social justice perspective. IPS has programs on Peace and Security, the Global Economy, and Paths for the 21st Century, supplemented by several projects that address specific issues.
International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) — iEARN is a nonprofit organization made up of almost 4,000 schools in over 90 countries. It aims to empower teachers and young people (K-12) to work together online at low cost through a global telecommunications network.
International Rivers Network — IRN is an important network that works to support communities around the world struggling to protect rivers and watersheds. They see this work as part of a movement for “environmental integrity, social justice and human rights.” IRN’s website is a valuable source of information about global water struggles.
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility — A coalition of 275 Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish institutional investors that organizes corporate campaigns to press companies to be socially and environmentally responsible. Publishes the newsletter, The Corporate Examiner.
International Forum on Globalization — Begun as an alliance of over 60 scholars, activists and writers, the IFG has sponsored important conferences to evaluate the social and environmental impact of globalization. They have published numerous booklets. Their website features worthwhile resources on the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among others.
International Labor Organization — The ILO is the UN agency that promotes internationally recognized human and labor rights. The organization maintains a searchable website on labor issues of all kinds, such as child labor, and includes useful articles, links, and reports.
International Labor Rights Forum — The ILRF is a nonprofit organization that takes action on behalf of working people, and creates innovative programs and enforcement mechanisms to protect workers’ rights. Current campaigns include child labor, monitoring labor rights in China, sweatshops, forced labor in Burma, and examining IMF/World Bank practices. Provides detailed information on the effects of NAFTA.
Jobs With Justice — A national campaign, with local affiliates, to organize support for workers’ rights struggles. JwJ’s Student Labor Action Project is an initiative focused on supporting student activism around issues of workers’ rights as well as social and economic justice. Extensive information on current campaigns at their website.
MADRE — An international women’s human rights organization that works in partnership with women’s community-based groups in conflict areas worldwide. Our programs address issues of sustainable development, community improvement and women’s health; violence and war; discrimination and racism; self-determination and collective rights; women’s leadership development; and human rights education. MADRE provides resources and training to enable our sister organizations to meet immediate needs in their communities and develop long-term solutions to the crises they face.
Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network — A volunteer network of occupational health and safety professionals providing information, technical assistance and on-site instruction regarding workplace hazards in the over 3,800 “maquiladora” (foreign-owned export-oriented assembly plants) along the U.S.-Mexico border. Their website includes excellent resources and links on maquiladora health and safety issues.
National Labor Committee — NLC’s goal is to “end labor and human rights violations, ensure a living wage tied to a basket of needs, and help workers and their families live and work with dignity” ÷ through education and activism. The organization, under director Charles Kernaghan, has been one of the most effective groups in raising awareness about super-exploitation and horrific conditions in global sweatshops. The National Labor Committee is the producer of some valuable videos and reports on sweatshop and labor rights issues around the world (see, for example, the videos Zoned for Slavery and Mickey Mouse Goes to Haiti).
Teaching for Change — Teaching for Change publishes excellent multicultural, global justice teaching materials, such as the Caribbean Connection series and the widely used Beyond Heroes and Holidays. The Teaching for Change catalog is the single best source for resources to rethink and teach about globalization.
One World International — One World is “a community of organizations working from a range of perspectives and backgrounds to promote sustainable development and human rights.” Described as the “global supersite on sustainable development and human rights,” this is truly an amazing website, filled with photo galleries, news, special country reports, campaigns, and the like.
Oxfam America — Oxfam America is dedicated to creating lasting solutions to hunger, poverty, and social injustice through long-term partnerships with poor communities around the world. Their website features lots of educational materials and links to other global education sites.
Prison Activist Resource Center — The source for progressive and radical info on prisons and the criminal prosecution system.
Rainforest Action Network — RAN works to protect the earth’s rainforests and support the rights of their inhabitants through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action. Theirs is a must-visit, comprehensive website that includes a wealth of information, including ideas for activities and activism with students, classroom-friendly fact sheets, and links to indigenous rainforest groups. RAN has a Beyond Oil Campaign that should be of interest to students who are responsive to activities in Rethinking Globalization’s chapter on consumption and the environment.
Resource Center of the Americas — The Resource Center provides information and develops programs that demonstrate connections between people of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Over the years they have published a great deal of curriculum in this area. Their website includes an on-line catalog of these and other classroom materials, along with resources on critical issues about the Americas.
Rethinking Schools — Its quarterly journal, Rethinking Schools, is produced largely by classroom teachers with a focus on social justice and equity. The website contains this entire resource list with all website addresses hot-linked, so all you need to do is click on them and you are taken to each site. The Rethinking Schools website also features a number of additional articles on teaching about globalization, including further resources and lesson plans that are mentioned in this book. Rethinking Schools publishes Rethinking Columbus and Rethinking Our Classrooms, volumes 1 and 2.
Schools for Chiapas — An organization working in solidarity with the struggles in Chiapas, Mexico. Mobilizes people and resources to build schools in Chiapas. The organization also sponsors trips to study Spanish and Mayan language and culture in Chiapas. The website features news articles, historical information and other resources.
TransAfrica Forum — TransAfrica Forum provides commentary and scholarship on policy issues related to Africa and the Caribbean. The organization seeks to educate Americans in general, and African Americans in particular, on human rights and global economic policy. Reports on TransAfrica’s website deal with issues such as the Sub-Saharan Africa debt burden, the impact of tourism in the Caribbean, and landmines.
UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) — UNITE was formed by the merger of two of the nation’s oldest unions, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU). UNITE’s website offers information on campaigns against sweatshops, as well as government and organizational links.
United Farm Workers — Affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the UFW is the oldest and most prominent farm worker union in the United States. Their website includes links, current news articles, updates, and background white papers, such as “Fingers to the Bone: United States Failure to Protect Child Farm Workers,” “Fields of Poisons: California Farm Workers and Pesticides,” “Five Cents for Fairness: The Case for Change in the Strawberry Fields,” “Trouble on the Farm: Growing Up With Pesticides in Agricultural Communities,” and “Pesticides in Our Food and Water.”
UNICEF – United Nations Children’s Fund — UNICEF produces educational materials and distributes funds to children’s programs throughout the world. Their annual The State of the World’s Children provides useful statistics.