Dealing with personal adversity and concerned for the welfare of all children, Harry Leibowitz conceived of the idea for a global Award program for those who selflessly devote their lives to vulnerable children.
With the backing of a long term commitment from Kellogg Company, the first seven Honorees were vetted, selected and honored at ceremonies in Columbus, Ohio. The first $250,000 in grants was committed.
Muhammad Ali joined the World of Children Award program as the Honorary Chair and was featured on a special edition Kellogg Corn Flakes box. Mr. Ali attended numerous annual Awards events and published several articles and letters of endorsement, most notably in USA Today.
The Youth Award was established and Cardinal Health made a four year commitment to serve as the funding sponsor for the annual World of Children Health Award.
The World of Children Award ceremonies moved to New York City and began long term partnerships with the US Fund for UNICEF and The City University of New York, both of which still exist today.
The 60th Honoree was honored and the World of Children Award program began to be referenced in the press as “the Nobel Prize for Child Advocates.”
World of Children Award headquarters was established in the San Francisco Bay Area. Eighteen member Board of Governors from all across the country served as advisors.
The World of Children Award received its 2,000th Nomination. By the end of the year, we had recognized 78 Honorees working in more than 100 countries and serving children in profound ways, including healthcare, education, adoption, career training, rehabilitation for war victims and safety from indentured servitude.
The organization gained new individual donors, vastly increased its nomination pool and began organizing several online initiatives that raised awareness and funds benefiting children in need.
By the conclusion of 14 years, we had invested $4.3 million in 90 child advocates working in 148 countries.
This year, the World of Children Award celebrates its 15th Anniversary with the return of past Honorees to document how this Award launched their work and established their trajectory as global child advocates. Our worldwide network of 95 Honorees continues to make profound changes in the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.
In 1996, Harry Leibowitz imagined an award that would honor those people who work to improve the lives of vulnerable children around the world. He founded the World of Children Award, with the dream that that one day it would be as prestigious as the Nobel Prize.
Because Harry wanted children to be involved he invited them to share their ideas for a World of Children logo. One boy in Ohio, who had been abused and neglected early in his life, drew the image of a small child, cracked and broken, yet with a bright red heart. The boy told Harry, “I may be broken, but I still have a heart.”
Harry embraced this simple but powerful image, adding a globe and a ring of children encircling the the boy’s drawing, representing the universality of the message.
The World of Children Award song was written in 1997 by Victor Alexeeff and Joe Ashley. Entitled, “Can You Hear,” it honors those who strive to give a voice to children who go unheard.