Posted by on March 27, 2013 in Blog

By Jade Zoghbi

Spring 2013 Intern

“It's time for greatness -- not for greed. It's a time for idealism -- not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action.”- Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman is the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), a 40-year old organization dedicated to promoting social justice and advocating for disadvantaged children and families.

A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Edelman became the first black woman to pass the Mississippi Bar. She directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi and founded the Washington Research Project, which later became CDF.

Children’s Defense Fund, which has grown significantly since its inception, is committed to ensuring that every child has access to the resources that will give him/her “a healthy start, head start, fair start, a safe start, and moral start” to grow as a successful individual and citizen in the community. Its programs focus particularly on the needs of poor and minority children, and those affected by disabilities. CDF’s programs include powerful initiatives such as the Head Start Program and the Freedom Schools program. Advocacy efforts range from pregnancy prevention to prenatal care, developing leadership skills and breaking the “school-to-prison-pipeline.” 

The projects have increased capacity over the years to target all aspects of CDF’s vision, to address the needs of the whole child and to give each a chance.

The Arab American Institute Foundation is honored to recognize CDF for its impassioned dedication to improving the lives of American children and families with the Award for Institutional Excellence.  

“Anyone familiar with the civil rights movement knows about Marian,” says AAI President Jim Zogby. “When she founded CDF, she took on the fight for children and families with the same zeal that she took on desegregation and voting rights. From the juvenile justice program to the Head Start program to gun control, Marian and CDF have been behind the policies that have quite literally changed millions of lives. I am so honored to have her join us this year, and to recognize CDF’s work.”

Learn more about the voices of the movement here; former supporters include Salma Hayek, Shakira, Heidi Klum, LeBron James, and Whitney Houston.

We hope you join us to celebrate the great institutional success of CDF.

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