About The Children's Fund of America ~ Founders
Founded in the aftermath of 9/11....
On September 11, 2001, W. Knox Richardson and Michele Ritter watched in silence as the towers collapsed: one, then the other. The reporters were saying upwards of 50,000 people a day worked or visited the World Trade Center. Aloud, Richardson wondered how many people just lost their lives. Ritter asked "I wonder how many children just lost their parents." The words hung heavily in the air… they knew they had to do something.
Within hours of the first explosion, not only was the idea for a charity to help the children formed, but also the plan to implement it. Richardson, a Public Relations professional in California, recruited Dana Victoria Sophia, his PR counterpart in New York. Together, they began exchanging e-mails on a PR Internet mailing list and within 24 hours had gathered enough Public Relations volunteer support around the nation to build an instant national publicity campaign.
In the meantime, Ritter, a business systems and technology professional, obtained the Twin Towers Orphan Fund (TTOF) domain, TTOF.ORG, and developed its web presence, infrastructure and primary source of communications. The new fund partnered with a local children’s charity who provided TTOF with start-up administrative support, accounting, legal services and their tax-exempt status. Together, this national group of caring individuals agreed to dedicate the time and energy necessary to raise awareness for this new charitable trust fund – and to help the surviving children of parents killed in the Twin Towers disaster, in the Pentagon and on board the ill-fated airliners.
The following day, The Twin Towers Orphan Fund was officially announced. It's mission: to provide long-term higher educational assistance and physical and mental healthcare assistance to the children who lost parents in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. In the short weeks and months that followed, TTOF quickly grew from a concept – a desire to help – into a national grass roots campaign supported by tens of thousands of everyday men, women and children around the nation: each driven by a simple desire to help create a brighter future for the children of 9/11. Their efforts raised millions of dollars and touched thousands of lives; it's beneficiaries include more than 1,200 children in 26 states and territories including 32 babies born after 9/11.
In 2009, the organization expanded its vision and evolved into The Charitable Children's Fund of America, Inc.
In addition to the TTOF program, the Children's Fund of America quickly established a second program: America's Child. This program was developed to provide college education and welfare assistance to every child whose military parent proudly sacrificed their lives fighting the war against terror. Nearly 7,000 military personnel have died fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom; nearly 75 percent of them were under the age of 30.
We are honored by their sacrifice and committed to providing assistance to their surviving children.
The founders are still passionately involved: Richardson continues to provide a vital advisary role, and Ritter, at its helm, is the fund's President and CEO.
Values and Guiding Principles
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