The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is a non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for more than 40 years (since 1986 in Minnesota) to ensure a level playing field for all children. Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota (CDF-MN) is the only policy organization in the state to focus solely on the needs of children. Our mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.
CDF-MN provides a strong, effective, and independent voice for all the children who cannot vote, lobby, or speak for themselves. We champion policies and programs that lift children out of poverty; protect them from abuse and neglect; and ensure their access to health care, quality education, and a moral and spiritual foundation. We pay particular attention to the needs of those children who experience greater barriers to full participation in society, including children of color, children from poor and low-income families, and children with disabilities.
CDF-MN is supported by foundation and corporate grants and individual donations. Marian Wright Edelman founded CDF in 1973 and continues to lead the organization as its president.
How We Do It
To achieve its goals, CDF-MN advocates at the local, state, and federal levels on behalf of children, and conducts research, outreach, and youth development initiatives.
CDF-MN is a voice for children and encourages policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels to make children a priority in their decision-making. We advocate for tax, social, and health policies that promote child well-being. CDF-MN also energizes thousands of citizens to contact their elected officials on issues affecting children and families and to hold their elected officials accountable.
CDF-MN publishes policy reports, including the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, that help to enrich local, state, and national discussions concerning ways to secure better futures for all children. CDF-MN organizes public events around the release of its reports to provide policymakers and citizens statewide with the opportunity to learn about and engage on issues of child well-being.
To help strengthen family economic security, CDF-MN administers Bridge to Benefits, a free, online screening tool that quickly, easily, and confidentially lets families know if they are eligible for public benefits and connects them to enrollment assistance. The tool screens for eligibility for programs including energy assistance, health care, child care assistance, food support, and tax credits.
Through our Beat the Odds® scholarship program, CDF Freedom Schools® program, and other youth activities, CDF-MN aims to create a successor generation of servant-leaders who will drive community and national transformations and inspire and make long-term improvements for all children.