our story

In 1979 Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards wrote and produced the song “We Are Family” for Sister Sledge which went all the way to #1 on the charts. WATCH VIDEO

On September 11th, 2001, that song became more important than ever.


In a very direct way, the traumatic events of September 11, 2001 revitalized a spirit of unity, solidarity and civic pride among U.S. citizens, and it gave legendary songwriter, producer and musician Nile Rodgers, a New Yorker, the idea to re-record his hit song "We Are Family" written for pop group Sister Sledge in 1979 – with a diverse community of artists, actors, personalities, firefighters, policemen and everyday citizens affected by the tragedy.

Nile, along with Tommy Boy Music President, Tom Silverman, gathered over 200 personalities together just 11 days after the terrorist attacks, all eager to use the song's message and uplifting beat to mobilize the world and commence the healing process. Together they sang one powerful song that is featured in the music video directed by Spike Lee and the documentary The Making and Meaning of We Are Family. WATCH VIDEO


The reaction to the celebrity "We Are Family" re-record was powerful and unprecedented – and the "we" began to resonate as an international message of hope. What else could be done to harness the powerful effects? Reaching out to our youngest family members...

For the first time in history, 17 top entertainment companies united in the spirit of "we are family." In January 2002, under the supervision of Nile Rodgers and Christopher Cerf, award-winning children's TV/music producer, a three-minute children "We Are Family" music video was recorded with the help of over 100 favorite children's TV characters — all donated by 17 competing media companies to promote the message of a global family. The music video also includes a We Are Family Teacher's Guide, developed by the Anti-Defamation League's A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute for grades K-6.

On March 11, 2002, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and PBS aired the "We Are Family" children's music video as alternate programming, because children needed a positive message on the day the world was recognizing the six-month anniversary of 9/11. We Are Family: A Musical Message for All has been seen in more than 58,000 schools by more than 12 million people. WATCH VIDEO

In what seemed like a natural next step, the We Are Family Foundation – a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) – was formed by Nile Rodgers to continue in the quest to make the movement bigger than the song.


Between 2005-2010, We Are Family Foundation funded 17 schools across Mali, Malawi, Nicaragua and Nepal providing an education to more than 3,698 students.


When We first learned of Mattie J.T. Stepanek, an 11-year-old poet and peacemaker with muscular dystrophy and a resume that included 6 New York Times bestsellers, they were struck by his astute observations about human nature and his universal message of hope and peace. His vision of a global family perfectly aligned with WAFF's mission, and they chose him as the first We Are Family Peacemaker Award honoree because of his significant contributions toward promoting a peaceful society, including his belief that in order for there to be peace, one must have all of their basic human needs met: food, water, health, shelter, safety, education and the environment.

When Mattie died in 2004 just before his 14th birthday, his work and message had already inspired millions around the world, and was carried far and wide with the help of his mentors and public media figures including Oprah Winfrey, President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Maya Angelou and Larry King. Mattie's visionary leadership inspired WAFF's Three Dot Dash global teen initiative in 2008, to recognize and support Global Teen Leaders (GTLs) all over the world who are actively working on projects that promote a more peaceful society through addressing solutions to basic human needs. WATCH VIDEO


Since 2008, We Are Family Foundation has dedicated its efforts to creating programs that promote cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world. WATCH VIDEO


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