Helen Keller's Legacy

Established in 1915, Helen Keller International is the world’s premier international not-for-profit organization dedicated to preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition. Working worldwide, we combat the root causes and extended consequences of blindness and malnutrition by establishing affordable and sustainable programs that are based on scientific evidence, original research and an unwavering determination to succeed against challenges that are all too often overlooked.

The results of our efforts are dramatic and wide-ranging. They perpetuate the indomitable spirit of Helen Keller, whose words continue to frame our values, and to guide us today:

“The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.”

Our Values

All our programs and activities are grounded in a set of values that are intended to guide our work with vulnerable populations and to promote strong internal and external work relationships. We believe that:

  • Everyone has the right to basic health and well-being.
  • Everyone – from the people we serve to the people on our staff – deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.

To these ends, our programs and activities are all founded on five essential principles:

  • Sustainability: We design programs that continue far beyond our involvement. We work with public, civil society, and private sector partners to build local ownership and capacity, integrate our programs into existing systems, and focus attention and resources on long term efforts.  
  • Evidence-Based: We build programs based on state-of-the-art scientific knowledge and local situational analyses, and rely on ongoing program evaluation to maximize our impact and develop new scientific and programmatic knowledge.
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Creativity, determination, the drive to do better, and the courage to take risks enable us to solve current challenges and prepare for future needs. We venture into new areas, embrace new ideas, seize opportunities and undertake new partnerships as we seek to discover and implement solutions. 
  • Equity: All people are of equal value, and the recognition and celebration of our differences bring us tremendous strength. Everyone – from the people we serve to those on our staff – deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.
  • Partnership: We work together with partners as equals, with a clear understanding of shared and respective roles. Effective collaboration requires shared vision, open communication and transparency, the ability to listen and respond to each other’s needs, and mutual accountability.

Today, HKI works with hundreds of partners (see Program Partners). Each partner adds something essential to our efforts to nourish families, prevent needless blindness and give children the chance to lead full, healthy lives. In the developing world, where blindness and malnutrition remain deeply rooted in complex circumstances, no organization can go it alone, nor would we want to. As Helen Keller herself once said,

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”