The Children and Youth Foundation was founded in 2001. Since then, the Foundation has supported the youth in multiple ways. During the two decades, hundreds of thousands of youngsters have benefitted from our work in and outside of Finland.

The Children and Youth Foundation was founded in April 2001. The founders were Pär Stenbäck and Heikki Järvenpää. They came up with the idea of the Foundation because they noticed that there was a need for a non-profit that works for the youth together with companies. The founders also included Lions Club Finland, Folkhälsan, and Children of the Station.

Originally, the Children and Youth Foundation was founded as a part of International Youth Foundation (IYF), which operates in over 100 countries. The Foundation still is a part of IYF but operates independently. An international aspect has always been important to the Foundation. It has had projects in Latin America, Africa, and Russia.

Since its beginning, the Foundation has done versatile work to support youth. Hundreds of thousands of youngsters have benefitted from Foundation’s work during its two-decade-long operations in and outside of Finland.

Foundation’s very first project was carried out with engineering company Wärtsilä. It was a fundraising project called ‘An hour for a child’ (Tunti lapselle) and the money collected was donated partly for Finnish, and partly for Palestinian youth work. Same kinds of fundraisings were later carried out also with for example UPM, TVO, and Metso.

The Foundation has aimed to build long-lasting projects and operations. One example of that is the Dreams programme, originally named Zest. During 2003–2020, the Dreams programme has reached about 500,000 students and tens of thousands of teachers in upper comprehensive schools. The programme aims to strengthen youngsters’ faith in the future and encourage them to take concrete steps towards their dreams. The Dreams programme consists of visits to schools made by’ Dreamsters’. They inspire and share their own stories with the students.

Alongside the Dreams programme, the most known examples of our work are ‘A responsible Summer Job campaign’ (Vastuullinen kesäduuni) and Myrsky. A Responsible Summer Job offered during 2011–2014 summer jobs for a large number of youngsters together with hundreds of companies. Myrsky in turn funded 129 youth art projects during 2011–2015.

The core of the Children and Youth Foundation’s operations has always been cooperation with a board network of different actors. We have worked with hundreds of companies, municipalities, associations, and other organisations. Most of our funding comes from the public sector, but also a considerable amount of funding throughout the years has come from companies. Our operations have always been available for youngsters throughout Finland; we want to offer activities that are not tied to specific areas in Finland.

The Children and Youth Foundation has had five Executive Directors:

  • Olli Alanen (2018­–)
  • Tuula Colliander (2015–2017)
  • Eila Kauppinen (2009–2015)
  • Ira Carpelan (2004–2009)
  • Heikki Järvenpää (2000–2004)