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Newsmax's Top 50 Charities That Celebrate American Values

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By Josh Schukman   |   Tuesday, 29 Nov 2016 09:00 AM

The United States is one of the most charitable countries in the world with Americans donating more than $358 billion in 2014 alone, according to GivingUSA.org. Charity runs deep through the fabric of who we are as a people, so it is little wonder that many U.S. charities celebrate the values that founded this nation. Those values include individual freedom, self-reliance, equality of opportunity, competition, and hard work, to name a few.

To compile this list of Newsmax’s Top 50 Charities That Celebrate American Values, our editors combed through reputable online resources such as Charity Navigator, GreatNonprofits, and Philanthropedia. We also consulted with several well-connected nonprofit professionals.

We used the following criteria to establish inclusion in the list: The nonprofit needed to excel at promoting one of the core American values above. It also needed to rank well in terms of financial accountability and transparency.

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Finally, the charity had to contribute to the furthering of American values and the realization of the American dream. We realize that some of these measures are subjective, so we have endeavored to explain our reasoning with each individual listing.

In honor of #GivingTuesday — an international day of giving, volunteering, and activism every Tuesday after Thanksgiving — here is Newsmax's list of the Top 50 Charities That Celebrate American Values.

1. Salvation Army — Well-known for its hand bells and little red kettles at Christmastime, this evangelical Christian charity is one of the oldest and most active organizations on this list. The Salvation Army has more than 7,500 centers around the U.S. serving those who are most in need: the hungry, the outcast, the lonely, and the shelterless.

2. Habitat for Humanity — As one of the U.S.’s largest homebuilders, Habitat is helping millions of families realize the American dream every day. Habitat families take an array of classes that focus on self-reliance, invest "sweat equity" into their home’s construction, and finance interest-free loans to pay for their home, as well as future Habitat houses.

3. The Navy SEAL Foundation — Since 9/11, our Special Operations Forces have been tasked with monumental goals on battlefields around the world. Most recently, they have been called to serve where few others would go in the fight against ISIS. The unique role of our special forces also brings with it unique challenges. The Navy SEAL Foundation provides specialized support to this elite group of men and women by offering programs that address issues of isolation, family separation, and trauma.

4. YMCA of the USA — The "Y" has a long history of creating programs for the community that inspire strong values, positive health, and spiritual wellness. As a community staple for well over a century, this venerable charity is one America owes much to.

5. Kiva — This fast-growing, crowdfunding nonprofit is fueling American ideals of ingenuity, self-reliance, and empowerment by backing fee- and interest-free microloans to entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad who face barriers to traditional capital. These microloans can transform the lives of these individuals and, sometimes, whole communities. Once repaid, Kiva lenders often roll their donations into other projects to continue funding amazing things. Kiva proudly boasts a 97-percent repayment rate of the microloans it backs.

6. International Rescue Committee — Founded by Albert Einstein, the IRC is devoted to helping refugees from foreign lands rebuild their lives in the U.S. The IRC has worked tirelessly since the end of World War II to help refugees from all corners of the world start anew in America. Lady Liberty would be proud.

7. Charity: Water — Founded by a former nightclub promoter, Charity: Water is one of America’s most entrepreneurial nonprofits. It has also set the standard for nonprofit transparency and brought clean drinking water to millions around the world. Charity: Water operations are privately funded, so 100 percent of all donations go toward combating worldwide water scarcity and bringing potable water to developing nations.

8. VisionSpring — This nonprofit simultaneously provides small-business opportunities to its eyeglass distributors while helping underserved communities around the world to see. VisionSpring is a model of American ingenuity and is founded on the notion of “If you can’t see, you can’t work.”

9. City Year — City Year is devoted to making national service a right of passage for all Americans. Since 1988, they’ve inspired tens of thousands of young adults to serve their country by mentoring underprivileged youth. City Year is currently serving 27 U.S. cities and boasts alumni at some of the highest levels of America’s corporations and charities.

10. Pencils of Promise — Pencils founder Adam Braun has used his entrepreneurial moxie to create a millennial movement that is building schools all over the world. The organization has built more than 363 schools since 2009 and 100 percent of every dollar raised goes directly to its educational programs. Perhaps more importantly, Adam Braun is using his platform to inspire thousands of millennials to launch "for-purpose" organizations of their own.

11. St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital — Its motto is simple: “Finding cures. Saving Children.” St. Jude’s has been a model of American innovation since its founding in 1962. The hospital is a world leader in pediatric care, and parents never receive a bill for the life-saving treatment that their children receive.

12. Rotary International Foundation — The Rotary Foundation was founded in the wake of World War II to foster worldwide peace and understanding. It has sent tens of thousands of Americans abroad in service to other countries. Most notably, Rotary’s PolioPlus initiative has leveraged the benevolence of Rotarians to nearly eradicate polio from the world over the past 30 years.

13. Boy Scouts of America — Few names are as synonymous with American values as “The Scouts.” As the nation’s leading youth development organization, the Boy Scouts have long stood for instilling a love of nature and civic duty in our nation’s children.

14. Girl Scouts of the USA — Much like the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts teach girls the American values of hard work, self-reliance, and civic duty at a young age.

15. Samaritan’s Purse — This charity has brought American generosity to some of the world’s worst tragedies. It is a nondenominational organization that seeks to work with local churches to provide spiritual and physical aid to hurting people all over the world.

16. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — No foundation has done more to channel America’s charitable dollars toward the world’s greatest problems. Mr. Gates has given much of his sizeable fortune to his foundation and has inspired many of America's wealthiest individuals to do the same.

17. Catholic Relief Services — Heeding the words of James 2:17 for 70 years, CRS “puts faith into action to help the world’s poorest create lasting change.” This U.S. Conference of Bishops outreach mission works in three primary areas: emergency response, agriculture, and healthcare, which often go hand in hand as CRS teams respond to international disasters and crises, helping the affected communities recover and rebuild. CRS pours 93 percent of its donations into its programs, and nearly a third of that available funding is devoted to emergency relief and recovery.

18. The National Park Foundation — America’s national parks are a treasure to be enjoyed by all. This foundation works tirelessly to preserve to parks, offer programming for park visitors, and instill the love of America’s natural beauty in all who visit.

19. Ronald McDonald House — Few names are as synonymous with American entrepreneurial success as Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s. His company’s namesake charity has carried those values through to American philanthropy by building an enormous network of homes for families and children impacted by life-threatening illnesses.

20. ChildFund International — The belief in equality of opportunity is fundamental to who we are as Americans. ChildFund International empowers U.S. sponsors to offer opportunity to children who would not otherwise have it.

21. Susan G. Komen — Breast cancer claims the lives of tens of thousands of Americans each year. The Komen Foundation inspires action by leading research initiatives, caring for people impacted by the disease, and leading popular races all over the U.S. that raise money for a breast cancer cure. The fact that Komen uses competition to create social change makes it a charity that celebrates American values.

22. The Toby Keith Foundation — Nothing has more power to shatter a happy and healthy family than finding out your child has cancer. As one of America’s fastest-growing foundations, Toby Keith’s charity is devoted to providing a cost-free, convenient, and comfortable home for children and families traveling to receive life-saving care.

23. Heifer Project International — Founded by a Midwestern farmer, Heifer is devoted to offering sustainable agriculture as a lasting way to alleviate poverty around the world. Heifer brings individual freedom to families living in extreme poverty by giving them the means to produce food that can be used for their families and sold at market.

24. Disabled American Veterans — DAV helps more than 1 million veterans each year to receive the basic care that they deserve for fighting for our freedoms. This charity works tirelessly to ensure that our disabled vets have the opportunity to participate in the American dream.

25. The Innocence Project — It is a sad fact that a nation that prides itself on equal justice for all has imprisoned many innocent people. This is due partly to the fact that, until recently, we lacked the technology to perform the DNA testing that could exonerate wrongfully imprisoned inmates. The Innocence Project has done much to bring restitution to those experiencing this injustice.

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26. Mozilla.org — The internet is one of the greatest engines for human freedom that has ever been created. Mozilla prides itself on being the nonprofit champion for the internet by ensuring that it is accessible to all, free from governmental intrusion, and ready to spark innovation through access to information.

27. Make-A-Wish Foundation — America is fueled by the power of our communities. Make-A-Wish inspires communities all over the U.S. to bring dreams to life for children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

28. The Polaris Project — There is no greater affront to freedom than human trafficking. A modern-day form of slavery, this criminal enterprise currently denies liberty to an estimated 21 million people around the world, according to the U.N.’s International Labor Organization. Polaris is leading the way for policies and practices to end human trafficking for good.

29. Puppies Behind Bars — The U.S. incarcerates more citizens per capita than any nation in the world, according to the International Center for Prison Studies. Sadly, many of these prisoners are released from jail only to return shortly thereafter. Puppies Behind Bars works with inmates to train service dogs for military veterans and law enforcement officers. The program offers a way for inmates to learn valuable skills and gain the much-needed pride that helps them to become self-reliant upon their release.

30. Robin Hood Foundation — While this charity’s title may not seem to embody American values, the foundation has a powerful history of inspiring the U.S.’s most influential business people to donate at unprecedented levels. Its mission is to focus American ingenuity toward eliminating poverty in New York City for good.

31. Open Doors USA — The earliest pilgrims came to America seeking refuge from religious persecution. Every year at Thanksgiving, we honor their legacy as a nation, acknowledging that the pursuit of religious freedom is embedded in the DNA of our country. It’s with that purpose that Open Doors USA serves persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries worldwide by providing them with ministry support, economic development, and community restoration.

32. Homeboy Industries — Founded in 1992 by a Jesuit priest who was fed up with the gang violence in his neighborhood, Homeboy Industries has grown into a model for social change across America. The organization offers real opportunity to former gang members via its many social enterprises such as its apparel company, bakery, and the Homeboy Diner inside the Los Angeles City Hall. Homeboy Industries also provides several services to help gang members reintegrate into regular society, such as tattoo removal and mental health, legal, educational, and employment help.

33. Thistle Farms — By offering entrepreneurial opportunities to women impacted by drugs, prostitution, and trafficking, Thistle Farms is offering the American dream to those who never believed they could have it. Thistle Farms’ unique line of home and body products can be found in stores all across the U.S.

34. National Kidney Foundation — The National Kidney Foundation began in 1950 with the love of a mother and her quest to save the life of her son from an incurable, little-known disease. Kidney disease is still an imperceptible killer that puts the lives of nearly a third of all Americans at risk. NKF works to thwart kidney disease by raising awareness, funding research, promoting and providing testing to aid early detection, and aiding organ donation and transplantation. While she couldn’t save the life of her own son, founder Ada DeBold has saved the lives of many Americans.

35. Spring Back Recycling — Spring Back is a trifecta of American ingenuity. First, it reaches out to formerly and currently homeless men by offering them an opportunity to earn income via mattress recycling. Second, the men are offered programming and support that helps them grow their careers. Third, the social venture eliminates millions of pounds of mattress waste from American landfills.

36. World Relief — World Relief partners with America’s churches to welcome refugees seeking a better life in the U.S. It partners natural-born American citizens with newly arriving refugees to offer opportunity to the world’s most vulnerable people.

37. Mayo Clinic — Mayo is an international symbol of American medical prowess. Consistently ranked as one of the top hospitals in the world, this nonprofit organization is devoted to tackling the world’s most challenging diseases while providing expert care for all of its patients.

38. Rebuilding Together — A safe and secure home is a vital part of the American dream. Sadly, too many U.S. families live in substandard housing that is a far cry from what many other families experience. Rebuilding Together works hard to resolve this by rehabbing thousands of homes across America each year.

39. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation — America was built on its entrepreneurial spirit, and this foundation empowers kids to start small businesses in the form of lemonade stands and to contribute to the great cause of fighting childhood cancer.

40. Feeding America — One in eight Americans struggles with hunger every day, says Feeding America. Working through its networks of food banks, Feeding America endeavors to solve the issues of hunger and food insecurity in the U.S.

41. Big Brothers/Big Sisters — Mentoring by positive role models is proven to make a tremendous impact in the lives of disadvantaged children. BBBS has offered hundreds of thousands of America’s disadvantaged youth new opportunities by pairing them with positive role models.

42. CaringBridge.org — CaringBridge is a platform that allows any individual who is experiencing a health crisis to connect with the world for help. It leverages the American community to help some of the neediest citizens and inspires one of its most powerful values: compassion.

43. Ashoka — Ashoka coined the term “social entrepreneur” as an individual with innovative and practical solutions to society’s most pressing problems. Over the past three decades, Ashoka has brought American innovation and entrepreneurial prowess to bear by empowering entrepreneurs who are working to solve the world’s most pressing problems.

44. Toys for Tots — A program of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, this charity sees American heroes collect new toys to give to disadvantaged children at Christmas.

45. The National Geographic Society — There is arguably no charity that has done more to fuel American exploration than this society. It has inspired discoveries ranging from Machu Picchu to the sunken Titanic, and the society helps everyday Americans find a love for adventure, exploration, and conservation.

46. The B Lab — The B Lab is fast becoming the “certified organic” for companies practicing social responsibility. U.S. companies have long prided themselves on contributions to their communities, and the B Lab provides a rigorous process for businesses to prove that they are doing well by the world.

47. Khan Academy — It all started as a series of videos that Salman Khan created to help a family member understand complicated arithmetic. That first series of videos quickly grew into a movement that is revolutionizing education and inspiring millions of Americans to learn new skills online “For free. For everyone. Forever.”

48. Special Olympics — Love of competition is a fundamentally American virtue and the Special Olympics creates a space for friendly competition for our citizens with special abilities.

49. The Arc — In America, we believe that people should be given the opportunity to succeed no matter their background. The Arc is the nation’s foremost defender of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Anyone with a family member who suffers from these disabilities has likely received support from the Arc so that people with special needs are offered every opportunity to succeed.

50. Happy Bottoms — Keeping baby bottoms dry is vital for the millions of working single moms in the U.S. This all-American diaper bank gets free diapers on those baby bottoms to help working moms care for their kids.

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Josh Schukman is the founder of Social Change Nation, the online hub for startup social entrepreneurs. He hosts a podcast featuring interviews with the world's leading change agents and consults with startups as they work to make a dollar AND a difference. Learn more about Social Change Nation and get their free e-guide on 10 tips for starting out in social entrepreneurship by visiting socialchangenation.com/10keys.

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In honor of #GivingTuesday — an international day of giving, volunteering, and activism every Tuesday after Thanksgiving — here is Newsmax's list of the Top 50 Charities That Celebrate American Values.
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