The World Bank: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

When people or governments do not have money to do something, oftentimes a bank gives them a loan. The World Bank is one of these organizations. In this lesson, you will learn about the World Bank, its history, and what it does in our world.

Creation of the World Bank

Have you ever wanted to buy a new toy or game, but you didn't have the money? Perhaps your parents loaned you the money to buy it and made you pay it back by doing chores around the house, mowing lawns, or shoveling snow. Sometimes countries need money too, and there is an organization that helps.

At the end of World War II, many countries in the world were destroyed from the fighting, and their people were suffering. In 1944, 44 countries met to develop an organization that would take money donated from governments or other people and distribute it to countries in need. In 1946, the World Bank opened with 38 member countries. Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C.

World Bank logo

The first loans were given to countries who suffered as a result of the war, including France, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Luxembourg. This meant that the World Bank provided money to these countries to help them improve the lives of their citizens, with the expectation that the countries would pay the money back. The World Bank also gives out grants, which are like loans, but the money doesn't have to be paid back.

Today, the World Bank has over 180 member countries. It has a president and a Board of Governors made up of representatives from these countries. These representatives are responsible for making decisions for the organization.

So what does the World Bank actually do? Let's make some cents of it!


When people take out a loan from a bank, it's usually for something important like buying a house to live in or a car to go to work. Likewise, the World Bank's purpose has always been to support countries in need and help people rise out of poverty so they are not extremely poor. Currently, the World Bank has two goals it wants to achieve by 2030:

  • Have no more than 3% of people living in extreme poverty (those earning less than $1.90 a day).
  • Help the 40% of people in each country that earn the least money to earn more money.

Example of poverty in Haiti

When a country needs money for a particular project to benefit its citizens, that country presents its need to the World Bank for consideration. The loans and grant money provided to these countries are used to support a number of projects, including:

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