Founder and Chair, Free the Children // Chief Executive Director, Free the Children
After Craig Kielburger read, at the age of 12, about the horrors of child labor, he enlisted his older brother, Marc, and founded Free the Children, an organization dedicated to helping kids assist impoverished and exploited minors around the globe. Twelve years later, Free the Children, which gets 65 percent of its donations from people under 18, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on three occasions, provided $11 million worth of medical supplies to developing countries, and sent thousands of teens and tweens to China, Ecuador, Kenya, and Mexico, where they get their hands dirty building schools (they’ve constructed 450 so far) alongside their less fortunate peers. “Young people are energetic, idealistic and compassionate,” says Craig Kielburger, “They just need a way to translate their passion into action.”

Creator, the Starbury Collection
Perhaps you’ve been struck by the irony of certain NBA stars, whose $150 (ahem, Lebron) and $175 (ahem, Jordan) sneakers suck millions out of inner-city communities, making a show of giving a minute percentage of their earnings back to those neighborhoods. Knicks’ guard Stephon Marbury was, and decided to give money back by not taking it out. In August 2006, the Coney Island native enlisted discount retailer Steve & Barry’s to produce his signature shoe, the Starbury; retail price: $14.98. Now, with millions of shoes sold (Marbury is also donating 10 percentage of profits to inner city causes) and a new high-profile Starbury signee—the Bulls’ Ben Wallace—Marbury is hoping a good value can help change values. “Kids know fashion and nice cars, but we’re teaching them not to get wrapped up in those things,” says Marbury. “When you can change culture with the tiniest thing, like $14.98 sneakers, that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

Omidyar Network, Cofounder
Pierre Omidyar proved that engaging large numbers of individuals in a for-profit enterprise can be a force for change when he founded eBay. With the Omidyar Network, which launched in 2004, the billionaire applied a profit-to-the-people approach to the philanthropic sector. Part humanitarian foundation, part venture-capital firm, the Network funds a wide variety of organizations—from Unitus Equity Fund, which supports microlending in India, to, an online marketplace that connects donors directly with school projects that need funding. But Omidyar doesn’t give to charity; instead, he invests his money (more than $30 million of it and counting) in for-profit businesses—specifically, social entrepreneurs who promote individual empowerment—long seen as the enemy in the do-gooder world. “He is questioning the very way philanthropy works, “ says Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, “and everybody is watching.” More important, everybody is benefiting.

Cofounders, GoodSearch
When you pose a simple question, sometimes you find a simple answer. “What if people could generate money for their favorite cause just by doing something they do every single day?” asked Ken Ramberg, who founded GoodSearch in 2004 with his sister, JJ. Their solution: an online search engine that raises money for charity each time users do a search. Neither the user nor the charity (chosen by the user) pays a thing, since donations come out of the revenue generated by ads on the site’s Yahoo!-powered search engine. To date, the Rambergs’ brainchild has distributed funds to more than 40,000 charities and schools. “Some people care about a cure for cancer, or homes for homeless pets, or the environment,” says JJ Ramberg. “We created a way for people to feel connected to these causes as they go about their everyday lives.”