About us

The Pay It Forward Foundation is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization, established in September of 2000, by Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of the 1999 novel, Pay It Forward. The next year brought the success of the motion picture Pay It Forward, which starred Helen Hunt, the adorable Haley Joel Osment and even Jon Bon Jovi. 

The philosophy of Pay It Forward is that through acts of kindness among strangers, we all foster a more caring society. In the book, Reuben St. Clair, a social studies teacher in Atascadero, California, challenges his students to "Change the world". That's something we would all like to do, right? What if we could change the world, even in some small way? One of the students in the class is Trevor, who takes the challenge to heart. As he goes about his day, he wonders what he could do, just a twelve year old student, to change the world. He starts by showing kindness to a stranger, and from there, moves on to the next person he can help. 

We want you to know about the Pay It Forward Foundation, and our work. 

The Pay It Forward Foundation was established in 2000, as a catalyst to inspire growth for the Pay It Forward philosophy, acts of kindness among strangers, generating a ripple effect from one person to the next, one community to the next. 

Following the success of her book, Pay It Forward, author Catherine Ryan Hyde established the Pay It Forward Foundation. Over the seventeen year history the Foundation has inspired countless acts of kindness and served to inspire people all over the world to make the philosophy part of their lives. As the Foundation grew and new and younger generations sought to learn and get involved in the movement, the publication of the Young Readers Edition of Pay It Forward was written which has come to be a special resource for teachers and other educators to use as a teaching tool for classes. The shared learning experience has motivated parents and students to participate in community service programs as well as raising money to further support kind acts of the Foundation as well as other kind organizations. 

As we work to spread acts of kindness around the world we seek innovative ways to introduce new generations to the concept and to share the countless uplifting stories. So in addition to our expanding our book program and support of individuals, families and like-minded organizations we are now fundraising to bring an exciting new coin program. These unique coins will greatly increase the rate of kind acts globally and make those stories known to many many more through social media and other electronic communications. More news to come on it very soon. We thank you for your support!!

Learn more about the Book Partnership here.

We seek to perform and support acts of kindness to people, to animal welfare and to the environment to be compassionate to all sharing the planet.

We hope you will register to Be Involved

We hope you will make a gift to support the movement

We hope you will Pay It Forward

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What about other Pay it Forward groups? Please know that we are the original and official Pay It Forward group. 

We are excited that people across the US and around the world have been motivated to launch their own pay it forward programs. To say that our founder "wrote the book on this" is accurate. Catherine Ryan Hyde, wrote the novel, and was so moved by the reaction that she established a charitable foundation to help grow the philosophy. 

We appreciate and respect others who represent the movement well. We ask that our logo and name not be used without permission. We hold trademarks on the name Pay It Forward Foundation and the logo you see above. Thank you for respecting the work we have put into defining this image. 


Please know:

The Pay It Forward Foundation is not designed to be an urgent need response organization. We wish we could be. At the same time, organizations such as the United Way, local places of worship and other community organizations are better equipped to respond to urgent needs.

In the future, we will be partnering with organizations who CAN respond quickly to urgent needs. Watch this space for updates. In the mean time, these groups might be helpful: 

The United Way of America

The YWCA


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