Our Story

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Our Story2019-04-16T11:42:39-05:00

Our Mission

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for more than 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. Founded in 1973 by Marian Wright Edelman, CDF champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education, and a moral and spiritual foundation. Supported by foundation and corporate grants and individual donations, CDF advocates nationwide on behalf of children to ensure children are always a priority. We have our headquarters in Washington, D.C., and offices in California, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas.

The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. CDF provides a strong, effective, and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby, or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color, and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble, or suffer family breakdown.

Our History – CDF-New York

Established in 1992, the Children’s Defense Fund-New York (CDF-NY) office has a unique approach to improving conditions for children, combining research, public education, policy development, community organizing, and advocacy. A recognized authority in the endeavor to protect children and strengthen families, CDF-NY serves as a resource and partner for children, families, and organizations throughout New York City and State. We leverage our national influence to eliminate the harmful and disproportionate impact that poverty has on children in New York and to eliminate race and gender inequities in the areas of justice, early childhood, education, health, and housing.

Our Founder – Marian Wright Edelman

The Children’s Defense Fund grew out of the Civil Rights Movement under the leadership of Marian Wright Edelman. The first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, Mrs. Edelman directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Miss., worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as counsel for his Poor People’s Campaign and dedicated her early career to defending the civil liberties of people struggling to overcome poverty and discrimination. In 1969, Mrs. Edelman began the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm that monitored federal programs for low-income families and, out of that initiative, she founded the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973.

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