The Children's Initiative

Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles

Direct Giving

We believe the communities we serve are best served through “direct giving.” We believe that our partners on the ground know what they need money for better than we do. We listen to village leaders, and then distribute money directly to families, or institutions such as schools. TCI’s job, as we see it, is not to administer programs, but rather to trust our close relations “on the ground” to do the best they can do with the resources provided. Donations to TCI go directly to village institutions, or single families, or individual assistance such as micro loans or scholarships. TCI’s overhead is well under $10,000 per year with no paid staff or Board.

Giving Well to Do the Most Good

We believe that all lives matter and that the life of a youth in third world poverty has the same value as the life of a child in a wealthy nation. We believe in “philanthropic arbitrage,” by which we mean that every dollar spent should have the maximum effect on that person served: for instance, $100 spent in Honduras will have a greater effect than $100 spent in the USA.


We believe in “utilitarianism,” as understood by reading Peter Singer’s book “The Most Good You Can Do.” In effect, TCI understands its mission not to be speculative in nature, not to be a transferring of our values to others, not to confuse our dreams with “theirs.” Rather, we listen closely to what local villages express as their most pressing, immediate needs, and we try to meet them. Actions (money spent) are good only to the extent of their consequences. We understand that our faith in those whom we serve, and their faith in TCI, is only as strong as the evidence that that faith evinces.


We believe that partnerships are the best way to utilize the TCI template. To this end we have partnered with in-country entities that have greatly increased our scope and reach, while giving other organizations – most of them without 501-c3 status – a platform for doing good works that would not be available to them without TCI’s resources and experience. We have also increasingly found like-minded young people who have skill sets (storytelling, music, library, swimming, public speaking, etc.) who have proven – given an opportunity via TCI – to be excellent teachers and partners in our projects overseas. Please see country profiles for more detail.

Universal Ideals

For TCI to succeed, we believe we must prove that “helping a few helps many.” We believe in “effective altruism,” by which we mean that we are deeply conscious of how we conduct our lives and to what extent our daily lives reflect our given work. We believe, for instance, that villagers in countries such as Honduras, and Vietnam are more confident in their daily lives, more trusting in their children’s future, and generally better off materially and spiritually if an organization like TCI believes in them and “has their back.” We at TCI are deeply aware of the obligations we have assumed, and try to live up to those obligations on a daily basis.

A Holistic Approach

We recognize that children cannot prosper if they and their parents are malnourished, have no reliable source of clean water, receive no basic medical care, and live in unsanitary conditions. We serve as a catalyst for change in addressing overall community needs that contribute to long-term health and prosperity.


Our efforts should have the ultimate goal of helping these communities become self-sufficient. This can be achieved by improving the living conditions and local economies, establishing the local infrastructure for self-determination, and by partnering with like-minded organizations and young people who make ongoing commitments to our mission.