About the Challenge

Students Rebuild partnered with DoSomething.org and Architecture for Humanity (AFH) to give students worldwide a way to support their Japanese peers affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Sendai on March 11, 2011. We asked students to make origami paper cranes, mail them in and see their efforts matched by the Bezos Family Foundation; the foundation donated $2 for every crane to go towards rebuilding Japan.

You quickly surpassed our initial goal of 100,000 student-made cranes which would mean a $200,000 donation. Incredibly, 1,055 Challenge teams around the world made and mailed in two million cranes! The Bezos Family Foundation doubled their gift to $400,000, with another $100,000 donated by an anonymous gift. That made for a total of $500,000 for rebuilding Japan!

In January 2012, a sculpture designed by students at the Tohoku University of Art & Design was unveiled in Japan’s Sendai Train Station. Art & design students created the sculpture from 100,000 student-made cranes. The sculpture highlighted a three-day public event called “Gift by Gift for a Better World,” which featured interactive workshops with several area schools. In the spirit of the Challenge, the cranes are a permanent art installation in a youth facility rebuilt by Architecture for Humanity in Japan. 

In February 2013, AFH staffer Karl Johnson flew to Tohoku to track the progress of reconstruction in the region. Read Karl’s journey and updates here. Celebrated artist Vik Muniz also generously donated his time, vision and creativity to produce original artwork using thousands of student-made cranes. Check out Vik’s poster here.

Read more on AFH’s reconstruction work for the Students Rebuild Paper Cranes for Japan Challenge on our blog. View frequently asked questions on our FAQs page.