Empower Lives in Partnership with Free Wheelchair Mission

Join Free Wheelchair Mission in creating a lasting impact by transforming lives with the gift of mobility.

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 80 million people, or one out of every 100 people in the world, are in dire need of a wheelchair, yet do not have the resources to obtain one. Many are forced to crawl or must wait to be carried.

A wheelchair provides independence and hope. The gift of mobility enables people to attend school, gain employment, engage in the community, and become active participants in their own lives.

The Problem

Disability places a harsh social and economic burden on communities with limited resources. People with disabilities do not always have equal access to health care, education, or employment opportunities; their exclusion is magnified in developing countries. Mobility would open doors to new opportunities.


Our Wheelchairs

Simple, cost effective, and highly functional, Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchairs are designed with locally available resources in mind, with the goal of providing the transforming gift of mobility to as many people as possible while still maintaining a standard of excellence.

About Our Wheelchairs

The Solution

Through an efficient method of manufacturing, shipping, and distribution, Free Wheelchair Mission sends wheelchairs to distribution partners in the developing world for as little as $96 per person (including all manufacturing and shipping costs as well as assembly, training, and fitting expenses).

Where We Work

We invite foundations to consider partnering with Free Wheelchair Mission

Cynthia Lake Charitable Trust logo.
Foles Believes Foundation logo.
J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
Marriott Daughters Foundation logo
Sorenson Legacy Foundation logo.
Odette Foundation logo.
Vision and Mission:

Free Wheelchair Mission is a 501(c)(3) humanitarian, nonprofit organization that is committed to improving the lives of people around the world by providing the gift of mobility to people living with disabilities in under-resourced countries, all at no cost to them.

We believe that when people living with disabilities are provided with a mobility solution, they have the means to enter their own communities— uplifted, empowered, and able to exercise choice over both their own and their communities’ destinies.

We believe in a world where everyone who needs a wheelchair has one, regardless of race, gender, religion, economic status, or nationality. Wheelchairs provide mobility, which changes everything: with mobility comes independence, and the ability to participate in society and earn a living. Mobility means dignity, leaving behind the days of living on the ground and instead moving into a truly transformed life.


Disability is a development priority because of its higher prevalence in lower-income countries and because disability and poverty reinforce and perpetuate one another. People with disabilities also face barriers, stigmatization and discrimination when accessing healthcare and health-related services. A mobility aid such as a wheelchair allows people living with disabilities to gain access, participate and maintain visibility in their communities. Wheelchairs open the doors to school, to work, to opportunity, and to freedom—people who were excluded from their own communities can participate, engage, and lead independent lives.

Free Wheelchair Mission is the only organization that manufactures our own wheelchairs. Our wheelchairs are designed with locally available resources in mind, with the goal of providing the transforming gift of mobility to as many people as possible, while still maintaining a standard of excellence. Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchairs are designed to be resilient enough to withstand regular use in the rugged terrain more common in the developing world and are built for maximum cost-efficiency with parts that are readily available in the developing world. For example, our wheels look like bicycle wheels because bicycles are available anywhere in the world, along with the parts to repair them.

We only distribute wheelchairs through approved Distribution Partners who work in developing countries and can receive and distribute full containers of wheelchairs in their immediate area.

Innovation, Expertise, and Experience

Since 2001, Free Wheelchair Mission has provided the transforming gift of mobility to over 1.4 million people with disabilities in 95 developing countries.

Our wheelchairs embody innovation, as our founder and president, Don Schoendorfer, Ph.D., is a biomedical engineer who invented our first wheelchair as a low-cost, high-durability mobility solution using a resin lawn chair, metal tubing, and bicycle tires—the GEN_1 (now retired). The GEN_2 is designed for a customized fit for smaller recipients, and the GEN_3 is a foldable chair for storage and convenient transportability.

Dr. Schoendorfer is a founding board member of the International Society for Wheelchair Providers (ISWP), an organization designed to share information for international wheelchair provision in the developing world, and leads the ISWP Working Standards Group.

Free Wheelchair Mission is uniquely positioned as a wheelchair manufacturer and distributor in the international wheelchair provision sector. We continue to develop, test, and revise our wheelchairs for maximum cost-efficiency, durability, and overall improved quality of life for recipients. Located at our headquarters in Irvine, California, the innovative Free Wheelchair Mission test track simulates wheelchair use in the harsh terrain of developing countries. Data provided by this testing enables our design engineers to collect accurate information on wheelchair components for manufacturing modifications and cost savings.

Scalable and Sustainable Solutions

Free Wheelchair Mission prioritizes a goal of sustainable organizational health as we work to distribute wheelchairs in under-resourced countries, and with the intention of an enhanced training program to increase partner knowledge and compliance in the long-term. Desired sustainable impacts are to support our partners to provide wheelchairs safely and appropriately, and to increase personal mobility and quality of life through the Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchair.

Tailored Collaboration Opportunities:

At Free Wheelchair Mission, we understand that each foundation has unique goals and priorities, such as disability, mobility, healthcare, education, social justice, economic freedom, community development and sustainability, crisis relief, indigenous peoples, poverty, medical aid, women’s health, and elder care.

Whether you seek to support a specific type of disability or focus on a particular geographical area, we can customize a partnership that aligns with your philanthropic objectives and maximizes your social impact.

For more information, contact Foundations and Grants Manager Monica Finifrock at 949.273.8470 x1215 or by emailing mfinifrock@freewheelchairmission.org.

Transparency and Financial Accountability

Free Wheelchair Mission is committed to transparency in relationships, operations, and finances for the wise stewardship of donations. Our accountability efforts make Free Wheelchair Mission a top-rated charity.

When partnering with Free Wheelchair Mission, you can trust that your resources will be used efficiently and responsibly. We provide comprehensive reports and updates, ensuring that you have a clear understanding of the impact your foundation is making through our partnership.

ECFA Accredited seal.
Charity Navigator Four-Star Badge. Give with Confidence.
Commitment to Transparency seal. Recognized by Intelligent Philanthropy.

Measurable Results: Transformation Investigation

A smiling African girl in a red shirt sits in a new, blue wheelchair.

Wheelchairs impact lives. A recently completed 3-year study of 600 Free Wheelchair Mission recipients in Uganda, Vietnam, and Peru confirms the positive influence of wheelchairs in the lives of recipients and their families. Findings include:

• 53% are more employable

• 70% have fewer hospital stays

9.3% can access education

• 69% can access public transportation


The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation logo.

”Free Wheelchair Mission really does miraculous work by providing new wheelchairs and the gift of mobility to those in need all over the globe!“ – The Harry T. Mangurian, Jr. Foundation

For more information, contact Foundations and Grants Manager Monica Finifrock at 949.273.8470 x1215 or by emailing mfinifrock@freewheelchairmission.org.