CARE is one of the largest private humanitarian organizations in the world. The nonprofit organization, which is based in Atlanta, works with poor communities worldwide to find a lasting solution to the problem of poverty through education, economic security, and civic participation. CARE employs about 12,000 people globally, including approximately 300 staff members who work at CARE’s Atlanta headquarters. CARE’s poverty-fighting work reaches about 55 million people through 861 projects in 66 countries.
Issues that CARE focuses on—in partnership with donors, other organizations, and the communities it serves—include HIV/AIDS, hunger, water and sanitation, education, economic development, and people’s right to participate in policy decisions that affect their lives. The organization operates programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. CARE does not conduct humanitarian efforts in the United States.
CARE supports schools that permit girls to receive equal access to education; initiates village savings and loan programs that allow women to pool their resources to start businesses and provide income for their families; contributes seeds, tools, and information to help farmers enhance their crops; sponsors health projects, especially to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other treatable diseases; and partners with other organizations to address environmental concerns.
Experience has shown CARE that working with women in poor countries fosters quicker and longer-lasting results. Helene Gayle, CARE’s president and chief executive officer, says, “When she is given adequate resources, a woman helps not only herself but her children, her extended family, and her entire community. An educated woman tends to have fewer and healthier children and is more likely to contribute to the financial security of her family.” Such knowledge has informed CARE’s work, which has evolved from delivering food and supplies to working particularly with women to identify the greatest threats to their survival.
In 1945 twenty-two American organizations joined together in New York as CARE (or the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe) to assemble, package, and ship lifesaving supplies to survivors of World War II (1941-45). The first 20,000 “CARE packages” arrived in Le Havre, France, on May 11, 1946, and contained U.S. Army surplus food. American citizens joined the efforts to help starving family and friends in Europe by purchasing packages for $10 apiece. After the army surplus was exhausted, CARE began assembling its own packages, which included such items as canned meat, coffee, chocolate, and egg powder. Over the next two decades at least 100 million CARE packages were sent to Europe, Asia, and eventually, other parts of the developing world. Over time, CARE packages came to include carpentry tools, books, blankets, and medicine. The food package program ended in 1967.
In 1993 CARE moved its headquarters from New York to Atlanta.
While CARE’s primary mission is to end poverty, the organization continues its history of responding to disaster. CARE’s experienced staff members, most often native to the countries in which they work, save lives, then stay for the long term to rebuild, restore, and improve communities hit by natural or man-made disaster. CARE’s work is guided by its core vision: a world of hope, tolerance, and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and people live in dignity and security.
In 2009 CARE was a presenting partner of the documentary A Powerful Noise, which tells the stories of three women struggling to overcome poverty and oppression in their countries.