Unbound is an international nonprofit founded by lay Catholics grounded in the Gospel call to put the needs of the marginalized and vulnerable first. We build relationships of mutual respect and support that bridge cultural, religious and economic divides. We invite all people of goodwill to join us.
Working side by side with people of diverse faith traditions in 18 countries, we bring people together to challenge poverty in new and innovative ways.
We inspire confidence and offer opportunity and encouragement to children and families living on the margins of society. We create practical and trustworthy means for people to help others and nurture human connections that uplift us all.
Unbound sponsorship goes beyond distributing material goods and empowers families to become self-sufficient. Families—those with both parents in the home and those headed by one parent or a guardian—are the pillars of a strong, supportive community.
Mothers are often the primary caregivers and know what their families need most to succeed. Our programs are designed in true partnership with the mothers, encouraging them to participate in defining benefits and services for their children.
We provide the opportunity for the sponsor and sponsored friend to make a real connection that gives hope and meaning to both. This connection opens a window between the two worlds and reveals the bonds that tie us together as one human family.
We recognize the inherent dignity of all human beings. When we create a true exchange of cultures, understanding and love as equals, we are doing more than alleviating material poverty. We are also creating the bonds of lasting peace and unity among people of diverse faiths and backgrounds.
Because the families we serve are active participants in the program and in their own struggle, hope is a powerful gift that can help them overcome tremendous odds. Their courage in the face of poverty brings hope to their sponsors as well.
Grounded in the Gospel call to serve the poor, Unbound is a lay Catholic organization working with persons of all faith traditions to create a worldwide community of compassion and service.
We are grounded in the Gospel call to serve the poor.
Recognizing the God-given dignity of each person is essential to sincere, lasting, loving relationships.
Honesty and transparency are necessary to operate an efficient and effective organization.
A relationship of mutual respect between sponsor and sponsored person is central to Unbound's mission.
The vision of Unbound began in 1981 with Bob, Bud and Jim Hentzen, their sister Nadine Pearce and their friend Jerry Tolle. Bob and Jerry were former missionaries who witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of poverty while working in Latin America.
They met hard-working families struggling heroically to make better lives for their children. The founders envisioned a program that would invite people to partner with these families to support and encourage them.
Watch the story of Co-Founder Bob
Hentzen's 8000-mile walk from Guatemala
Guided by their faith and inspired by the principles of Catholic social teaching, the group created an innovative, highly-personalized sponsorship program.
Their goal was to empower families and connect the world not only with their struggles, but also with their incredible gifts.
"We really didn't know what we were doing, but we were doing it anyway," said Nadine.
In 1981, the group pooled their Christmas card lists and asked a couple hundred friends and relatives to get involved. And they called their effort the Christian Foundation for Children. As Bud later described it, "The letter fell flat on its face."
But the group persevered, gaining one sponsor a day, then a few more. After four years, there were a 1000.
Christian Foundation for Children became Christian Foundation for Children and Aging and then, in 2014, Unbound.
Over the years, the organization has served more than 800,000 children, students and aging adults and currently works with more than 300,000 people supported by 260,000 sponsors.
Families around the world contribute to Unbound. Sponsors, volunteers and the families we serve all bring their gifts, initiative and potential to bear on creating connections and lifting each other up in the face of life’s challenges.
The organization has grown, but the dream of families working together remains. The founders' commitment to the people we serve and their passionate and dedicated example continues to inspire us today.
Since the very beginning, the founders [of Unbound] dreamed of freeing God's people from hunger, from slavery, from pain. Our calling at this historic moment is to be gentle, balanced leaders in our world.— BOB HENTZEN