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History & Timeline

PLAN INTERNATIONAL USA IS PART OF A 
GLOBAL NETWORK
THAT BELIEVES THE PROMISE OF CHILDREN FAR EXCEEDS THE POVERTY THEY WERE BORN INTO. 

Plan was founded in 1937, when a journalist and a refugee worker decided they wanted to assist children affected by the Spanish Civil War.  With the help of our supporters and partners, we have grown into one of the oldest, widest-reaching, and most effective international development organizations in the world.

1937

During the Spanish Civil War, John Langdon-Davies, a British journalist, and Eric Muggeridge, an English relief volunteer, begin moving truckloads of orphaned and displaced children to safe camps in France, where they are provided medical care, food, and shelter.

1938

Plan, with 500 Spanish sponsored children, holds its first public meeting in New York City.

Appeal letter by American sponsor Thornton Wilder recounting the story of 4-year-old Manuel Garoia.

Thornton Wilder Letter

1940

With the world at war, Plan, with 1,200 children, flees bombardments in Spain, through France, to England. Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud, opens Hampstead Nurseries for Plan children. Enrollment is open to children living with families at home.

1942

Eleanor Roosevelt with her three foster children.

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1945

Ingrid Bergman is one of the celebrities involved in Plan's post-war shoe drive. Shoes are collected to be sent to people in European countries badly affected by war.  

1949

At the end of the decade, sponsors in the United States and Canada are helping 5,706 sponsored children.

1959

Plan now has programs in Belgium, England, France, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, China, Korea, Greece, Italy, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. Total enrolled children and their families: 15,004.

1960

A decade of expansion begins in the developing world as Plan modifies its program objectives and methods.

1964

Pat Boone with his foster child in Hong Kong.

1970

Australia joins the United States and Canada as a Plan donor country. Sponsorship grows. By 1969, the number of sponsored children is more than 53,000.

A dam in Bolivia is constructed with the support of Senator Edward Kennedy.

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1980

Plan United Kingdom opens. Plan program countries are now all outside of Europe.

1987

Plan celebrates its 50th anniversary. There are now more than 300,000 sponsored children.

1997

Plan ends its 60th year, supporting 1.1 million sponsored children in 42 developing countries.

2004

Actress Marcia Cross becomes a Plan sponsor.

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2012

Plan commemorates 75 years of commitment to children, thanks to generous sponsors and donors. Through programs focused on various technical areas, Plan reaches 56.5 million children in 50 developing countries.