Founded in 1968, the mission of LCIF is "To support the efforts of Lions clubs and partners in serving communities locally and globally, giving hope and impacting lives through humanitarian service projects and grants."
LCIF awards its very first grant for disaster relief in the wake of a catastrophic flood in South Dakota, USA. This marked the first time the foundation was able to harness the collective power of Lions around the world and set the tone for the next 50 years of disaster relief work.
SightFirst is launched to prevent avoidable blindness and restore sight to people around the world. With a focus on building comprehensive and sustainable eye care systems, SightFirst provides funding for projects that deliver eye care services, build or strengthen eye care facilities, train professionals and build awareness about eye health in underserved communities.
LCIF partners with The Carter Center to combat river blindness and trachoma in Latin America and Africa. This partnership has seen the elimination of river blindness from Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico. Hundreds of millions of people have received the medical interventions needed to avoid these blinding infections and countless others are no longer at risk as progress continues in the fight against preventable blindness.
LCIF teams up with Special Olympics to provide vision screenings to Special Olympics athletes. To date, more than 362,000 Special Olympics athletes have received vision screenings through the Opening Eyes partnership. The partnership has expanded and is now called “Mission: Inclusion.” Together, LCIF and Special Olympics now provide health education to athletes’ families, leadership opportunities for athletes, and inclusive sports for Leos.
LCIF and the World Health Organization launch the world’s first-ever initiative to combat childhood blindness. Forty-five need-based Lions eye care centers have been established in countries all over the globe, delivering preventative, therapeutic and rehabilitative eye care services for 140 million children.
Campaign SightFirst II, LCIF’s most ambitious fundraising campaign ever, is launched to raise funds to support SightFirst initiatives. The campaign would go on to raise US$205 million to fund projects that deliver eye care services, build or strengthen eye care facilities, train professionals and build awareness about eye health in even more underserved communities.
US$10 million is raised for vaccinations through the One Shot, One Life: Lions Measles Initiative as part of a challenge from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The following year, LCIF partners with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the UK’s Department for International Development to continue fighting measles, committing to raise US$30 million by 2017.
LCIF is eager to support future Lions’ service initiatives just as it has for nearly 50 years. Lions, Leos and LCIF will continue working to save sight, fight hunger and protect our environment. But emerging global needs also require our attention. We are developing new ways to expand our capacity to serve in unique areas, including childhood cancer and diabetes, to ensure that we meet the needs of our changing world. LCIF stands with Lions and is here to help make a difference.
Lions and LCIF -- Humanitarian Service Around the World (11:29 minutes)
Service Across Borders
Service Across Borders
Lions are citizens of the world. Soon after its founding, Lions Clubs International began a tradition of helping people in need outside of their own communities. Less than a year after the end World War I, Lions in Houston, Texas, USA raised money to build housing for orphans in Belgium. Lions' commitment to international service continues to this day.
In 1927, Lions established an emergency relief fund to respond quickly to humanitarian crises around the world. When the Yangtze River flooded in the 1930s, devastating the lives of millions of people, the Qingdao Lions Clubs used the emergency relief funds to provide relief to the people of China affected by famine and homelessness. Today, Lions are often the first volunteers to respond to major disasters and the last ones to leave.
As World War II raged, Lions in Ontario and Quebec worked with actress Mary Pickford to raise over US$100,000 to provide homes for British children orphaned by war. Today, Lions continue to mobilize funds and material relief for vulnerable people affected by war and disaster around the world.
In 1945, Lions and other representatives from 46 nations met to help establish the NGO section of the United Nations (UN), underscoring Lions' commitment to a "certain and lasting peace for the world." Today, Lions continue to work with the UN at the annual Lions Day with the United Nations and by supporting the UN Millennium and Sustainable Development Goals.
The years following World War II were difficult for many people. Lions in the United States sought to feed the hungry in France and Italy by donating to the Friendship Train. The idea spread around the U.S., and soon Lions had helped fill the train with food and ten thousand dollars in donations. Since then, Lions have made a global commitment to fighting hunger in communities everywhere.
In the late 1940s, European Lions clubs began entering into a formal agreements of friendship and cooperation called club twinning. When Filipino Lions reached out to Japan, a former occupier, the Japanese people were touched by their warmth. Japanese Lions continue the tradition of serving the Filipino people to this day.
In the 1960s, Lions in Japan and California hosted a summer-long student exchange. In the 1970s, the program was expanded when Lions Clubs established camps, where young people of many languages and cultural backgrounds could come together to learn from, respect, and understand each other.
Some global challenges are too big for individual clubs and districts to tackle on their own. That's where Lions Clubs International Foundation comes in. Founded in 1968, LCIF supports the work of Lions and funds large-scale humanitarian projects. To date, US$1 billion in grants have been distributed around the world.
In 1988, the International Peace Poster Contest was established. Since then, millions of children have shared their vision of peace by participating. The winners of the Peace Poster contest is honored every year at the Lions Day with the United Nations.
The world is now more connected than ever and Lions are engaging in humanitarian service in new and exciting ways. Lions' strategic five-year plan, LCI Forward, takes advantage of new technologies and innovations to help Lions serve wherever, whenever they are needed.
Peace & International Understanding - Centennial Video (9:39 minutes)
The Power of Service
Knights of the Blind
When Hellen Keller addressed LCI's international convention in 1925, Lions began a century-long journey as "Knights of the Blind." Lions have impacted hundreds of millions of lives through vision-related work like providing medicines, surgeries, eyeglasses, and outfitting hospitals and eye banks.
Since the 1930s, Lions have been bringing the world into focus for millions of people by distributing gently used eyeglasses in developing nations. Known today as
Recycle for Sight, Lions collect about 30 million pairs of glasses each year as part of the international program.
In 1962, the Lowell Lions Club in Massachusetts staffed concession booths at a fashion show to raise money to screen children for amblyopia. Lions around the world have continued that tradition by providing fast and simple
vision screenings to help identify treatable vision problems.
Whether providing free vision screenings to children, distributing school lunches or teaching young people the skills they need to succeed as adults, Lions make improving the lives of these vulnerable members of our community a top priority. Today, Lions have helped
millions of children around the world suffering from poverty, homelessness, hunger, abuse, neglect, disease and disabilities.
Since 1984, Lions have helped promote school-based curriculum designed to help youth develop life skills. Today,
Lions Quest has helped more than 13 million students in 85 countries make responsible decisions, set goals, develop healthy relationships, resist peer pressure and engage in community service.
Close to a billion people go to bed hungry every night, and poor nutrition contributes to the death of more than 3 million children every year. Lions strive to
end hunger in many ways, including volunteering at local food pantries, distributing food during the holidays and organizing soup kitchens for the homeless.
Since 1937, when Lions in Hawaii, USA helped safely dispose of 92 truckloads of waste, Lions have been working tirelessly to
preserve our environment. From local recycling projects to providing clean drinking water, Lions everywhere are protecting our planet through environmental service projects in their communities.
On June 9, 1972, a storm in South Dakota triggered a flash flood that claimed the lives of 238 people and injured thousands more. Lions worked quickly alongside the Lions Clubs International Foundation to assist the victims. Lions have a long tradition of being among the first to
offer aid and assistance following disasters like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the earthquake in Chengdu, China and Hurricane Katrina in the United States.
Lions are committed to serving more people in more ways, all around the world. To do so, we have launched a strategic plan called
LCI Forward, which will help Lions triple our service impact by serving 200 million people per year by 2021. LCI Forward also includes an updated global service framework that will expand how Lions serve to meet the emerging needs of a changing world.
Theodore Simmang, an American lawyer in Tianjin, China, launched the first Lions club outside North America with the help of businessmen from China, Europe, the US and Japan. Lions Clubs is currently one of a small number of service club organizations authorized by the Chinese government to operate in China.
During Lions' 1935 international convention in Mexico City, Mexico, honorary Lion Amelia Earhart became the first person to fly nonstop from Los Angeles to Mexico City, where she congratulated Lions on doing their "full share toward the furtherance of the spirt of Lionism and international relationships."
Lions Clubs International Foundation was founded In 1968 to address global causes by helping Lions and their partners serve their communities and the world. Today, LCIF has awarded nearly US$1 billion in grants to support Lions' humanitarian projects around the world, including bringing fresh water to residents of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
In 1984, the Benton Bay Athletic Lions Club was chartered in Alaska, USA, to support local college and youth sports. This began the tradition of
specialty Lions clubs bringing together Lions with common interests and backgrounds to meet special needs in their communities. Today specialty clubs range from preschool education to the environment, cyber clubs, veterans clubs, and more.
The 21st century has changed the world and Lions Clubs International forever. LCI is expanding its impact with
LCI Forward, a new strategic initiative that includes heavy investment in digital technologies, like social media and mobile applications, that will revolutionize how Lions serve and connect with each other and their communities.
In response to social problems created by World War I and rapid industrialization, in 1917 a Chicago businessman named
Melvin Jones invited business clubs from around the USA to form the "Association of Lions Clubs," a group dedicated to service and community.
The first Lions Clubs convention was held October 8th, 1917 in Dallas, Texas, where Melvin Jones was elected secretary general. Today, LCI's
International Convention continues to draw Lions from around the world to share in the fellowship of service.
Dr. William Woods was elected Lions Clubs International's first
international president at its 1917 convention. In 2016, Lions celebrated the election of their first female vice president,
The first edition of Lions Clubs Magazine was published in November 1918. The magazine–later known as
LION Magazine– would go on to achieve worldwide distribution in more than 20 languages. By January 2018, all 33 international editions of LION will launch a digital magazine.
During the 1925 International Convention,
Helen Keller challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness." Lions enthusiastically dedicated themselves to what would become a signature cause for our first 100 years of service.
In 1930, Lion George Bonham creates a
white cane with a wide red band to aid the visually impaired after witnessing a blind man having trouble crossing the street. Since then, the white cane has become a symbol of independence to those who use it to guide their way.
The Detroit Uptown Lions Club established a guide dog training school. Known today as
Leader Dogs for the Blind, the school has graduated more than 14,500 guide dogs since 1939 and helped popularize the idea of service dogs.
Lions will celebrate our first century of life-changing service in 2017. Lions Clubs International is rolling out
LCI Forward to help launch our second century of service, including a new global service initiative.