The Children and Youth Foundation, originally known as the Finnish Children and Youth Foundation (Suomen lasten ja nuorten säätiö – Barn och Ungdomsstiftelsen i Finland) was founded in April 2001. The idea to establish the Foundation came from Minister Pär Stenbäck and Heikki Järvenpää, who realised that there was no organisation in Finland doing proactive youth work in cooperation with companies. There were also concerns about the future of children and youth. In addition to Stenbäck and Järvenpää, the Lions Club of Finland, Folkhälsan and Suomen Itsenäisyysrahasto / Aseman lapset ry were involved in establishing the Foundation. Finland was the first of the Nordic countries to establish a national foundation that belongs to the International Youth Foundation network.
The Foundation’s first project was the Tunti Lapselle (An Hour for a Child) fundraiser, organised in cooperation with Wärtsila. Proceeds from the fundraiser went in part to local youth work and in part to youth work in Palestine. Tunti Lapselle fundraisers have since been organised with UPM-Kymmene, TVO and Metso, among other corporate partners.
Development work has been a part of the Foundation’s operation since the very beginning. At first, the Foundation provided funding for development projects organised by others, but in 2003 the Foundation launched the first project of its own, a local area cooperation project in Russian Karelia called the Kolja project. Altogether, the Foundation has organised around fifty different projects in Russian Karelia as part of the Karjalan Lapsi (Child of Karelia) programme from 2004 to 2008.
The Children and Youth Foundation today
The core of the Children and Youth Foundation’s operations is strengthening the life skills of youth and supporting the youth find their place. Through experiments, the youth will find their strengths, get courage to work together with others, and their self-esteem and social skills will strengthen. In addition, concrete routes are built for youth towards working life through internships in cooperation with companies, among other things. In 2018, the Finnish Children and Youth Foundation’s operations included approximately 33,400 youth and more than 1,000 teachers, artists instructors and other professionals working with youth as well as several supporters.
In 2015, the Foundation got a new look along with the renewal of its strategy. At the same time, we took on a shorter name: The Children and Youth Foundation.