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A True Leader

It is impossible to understand the history and mission of Futures for Children without understanding our founder and his vision for the future. Dr. Richard Saunders was a sociologist and educator who believed that in order to make positive social change, it is important to address the causes of the obstacles in children’s lives, like those that our American Indian students face, instead of merely addressing the symptoms of negative social conditions. He asked, “What do we do to get at the causes of poverty and overcome them, rather than to deal with the results of poverty…?”

Dr. Saunders founded Futures for Children in 1961, which, at that time, worked to serve communities in South America, and he also founded its sister organization, Futuro para la Ninez. In 1968, Futures for Children used the same principles that successfully helped South American communities and applied these fundamentals to assisting American Indian communities. His philosophy for Futures for Children and for positive social change was this: “People everywhere will do remarkable things when they work together for the well-being of their children.” He laid the foundation for our "Self-Help" method, which encourages people to identify and overcome the challenges within their own communities.

When working in American Indian reservation communities, Futures for Children strives to preserve the principles that guided his work: non-paternalism, non-interference, cultural respect, and maximum community participation.

At Futures for Children, we draw inspiration from Dr. Saunders’ sociological insight and love of humanity that helped him found Futures for Children. His principles guide us into the future.