Our History

The vision for Unbound began with Bob, Bud and Jim Hentzen, their sister Nadine Hentzen Pearce and their friend Jerry Tolle. Bob and Jerry were former missionaries who, while working in Latin America, witnessed the devastating effects of poverty on families struggling heroically to make better lives for their children. Guided by faith and rooted in Catholic social teaching, the founders envisioned a program that would invite people to partner with families to support, encourage and empower them.

1981
Christian Foundation for Children is founded on Nov. 20. The five co-founders use their Christmas card lists, ads in Catholic publications and personal visits to local parishes to invite the first sponsors. First-year revenues total $14,000.
1982
The first programs are established in Colombia and Honduras.
Co-founder Bob Hentzen visits a coed school in rural Honduras, representative of the humble places where some sponsored children were educated in the early days, and continue to be today.
Children in Honduras at the time of our first programs there.
Florelia Delgado in Bogota, Colombia, is the first child sponsored through CFC. Her sponsors are co-founder Bob Hentzen and his wife, Cristina.
Florelia Delgado was selected from a group of students at her school to be among the first sponsored children. Today she lives and works in Bogota and has two children.
Office operations relocate from Bob’s basement to a farmhouse in Kansas City, Missouri.
From left, co-founder Bob Henzten, staff members Linda Miller and Dee Chestnut, and co-founder Jerry Tolle.
1984
The elderly are included in the sponsorship program. A few years later, "Aging" is added to the organization's name to become CFCA.
1,000 sponsored children and elders
1985
Sponsorship programs expand to Asia and Africa.
Co-founder Jerry Tolle greets children on a visit to Uganda in 1995.
Co-founder Bob Hentzen on a trip to India around the time we began sponsorship programs there. Today, Unbound works in six countries in Asia and Africa.
1988
CFCA begins offering awareness trips to Guatemala, allowing sponsors to see our work with their own eyes and meet their sponsored friends.
A small group traveled to Guatemala in 1988 to meet sponsored friends and see our work firsthand. The program continues today, coordinating trips to 15 countries for nearly 1,000 travelers a year.
1991
CFCA moves to our present office location in a converted warehouse in Kansas City, Kansas.
Unbound moved to this building in Kansas City, Kansas with a very small staff in 1991. Today, there are approximately 175 employees working out of this warehouse that has been converted into office space little by little over the years.
The weekend parish visit program begins, sparked by co-founder Jim Hentzen, who saw the potential for sharing the work of CFCA in parishes across the country. Priests visit parishes to celebrate Mass, speak about our work and invite parishioners to sponsor. The program continues today.
1995
50,000 sponsored children and elders
1996
In March, President and Co-founder Bob Hentzen begins his 4,000-mile “Pilgrimage of Faith” walk from our headquarters in Kansas City all the way to Guatemala. Walking to show solidarity with the poor and marginalized, Bob walked alongside many in the Unbound community for parts of his journey.
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1997
100,000 sponsored children and elders

Archbishop James P. Keleher of Kansas City, Kansas, sponsors Jose of Honduras.

1998
A scholarship program is established to help with tuition for youth in secondary school, vocational training and higher education.
2001
Mothers groups and child accounts are established, with the first groups forming in India. Mothers groups provide a new level of accountability and support for the parents of sponsored children and their communities. The accounts allow for conditional cash transfers — a model of assistance to the poor with proven impact.
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2002
The governing board adopts the Carver model of policy governance, outlining principles for servant leadership and organizational accountability. The adoption of our Core Values ensures the work and spirit of our founders continues.
2003
250,000 sponsored children and elders

Former Knights of Columbus head Virgil Dechant and his wife, Ann, sponsor 9-year-old Rachelle of the Philippines.

2004
A new database called CASA is launched on July 6. Built and administered in-house, the database provides a one-of-a-kind framework for protecting, storing and organizing the data of sponsored friends and sponsors.
2005
Our volunteer outreach program begins, engaging sponsors to assist at parish visits and other awareness events.
2007
A concert called “The Gift” is held in Zamboanga, Philippines. It serves as the basis for the documentary "Rise and Dream," showing the resilience and creativity of those living in poverty and creating awareness of our work in the Philippines and around the world.
Sponsored children who performed in "The Gift" learned traditional instruments and dance to connect more deeply with their culture.
2009
At age 73, Bob Hentzen picks up his walk where he left off, trekking 8,000 miles from Guatemala to Chile. The second walk takes Bob through 12 countries where 182,000 sponsored friends and their families live, and lasts 18 months.
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2011
eLetters launch

An online tool for sponsors to submit messages to their sponsored friends is introduced. To date, more than 200,000 eLetters have been sent to sponsored friends using this feature.

2012
“Rise and Dream” premieres at the Thin Line Film Festival in Denton, Texas, in February and wins the Audience Choice Award.
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$1 billion

Unbound reaches the $1 billion mark in cumulative assistance sent to our programs around the world to support children and elders.

2013
Co-founder Bob Hentzen dies. At the time of his death, he was in Guatemala where he made his home and was still actively involved in the work as the organization's president.
Kansas City staff members march together to the memorial Mass for Bob at a nearby parish where he and his family attended when he was a boy.
In San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, Bob’s home at the time of his death, the community walks together to his funeral Mass.
2014
Our name is changed to Unbound, reflecting that the potential of the people we serve is limitless. Before his death, Bob Hentzen helps orchestrate this change, saying “CFCA is our foundation. Unbound is our future.”
Sponsored children in the Philippines enjoy the outdoors while flying kits and sporting their Unbound gear, symbolizing their limitless potential.
The Unbound Trailblazers program begins in June with a group of participants supporting Unbound at the Hospital Hill Run, a major road race held annually in Kansas City. The Trailblazers are a way for physically active people to support our work.
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The first Living Unbound Sunday is held in Tyrone, Georgia. An opportunity for Unbound supporters to share about our work in their own faith communities, Living Unbound Sundays have grown to several hundred presentations per year.
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2016
Yadira (center), a sponsored child in Guatemala, walks through her community alongside four other sponsored children and their families carrying vibrant, traditional textiles that are common throughout the country.
2018
$2 billion

Thanks to our generous community of supporters, Unbound reaches $2 billion in total revenue since our founding in 1981, continuing to send resources where they are needed most.