The KidKnits Story

“You’re never too young to change a life on the other side of the world”


KidKnits started with the very simple idea of a nine-year old girl – to make hats out of hand-made yarn from Rwanda. From this simple idea, however, there comes so much more.

About KidKnits

KidKnits is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to KidKnits. 100% of donations go to the KidKnits scholarship fund. Your donation will go to purchasing yarn for schools and after-school programs that could not otherwise afford it. Your donation, therefore, directly supports our partners in developing countries while providing American youth a unique learning opportunity!

Financial Support

Through purchasing yarn from our partners in Rwanda and Chile, KidKnits is able to provide income to women who desperately need it, while supporting our partners who provide them the opportunity to have dignity through their work


Through selling craft kits to kids around the United States, we honor our founder’s belief and teach that you’re never too young to change a life on the other side of the world.

Service Learning

When our kits are combined with either our global leadership or service learning curriculum in schools or with other student groups, KidKnits provides a unique, effective educational opportunity to inspire students to change the world, while giving them a tangible opportunity to do just that.


Meet Ellie

KidKnits Founder

Ellie is fourteen years old and is a high school freshman in Peoria, Illinois. She loves to write, read, bike, swim, hang out with friends, travel, and of course, knit! She learned about Rwanda from Immaculee Ilibagiza and wanted to find a way to help people in Rwanda from the United States. Thinking that making hats with yarn made in Rwanda, Ellie has brought to life her quote from a family roadtrip, “You’re never too young to change a life on the other side of world.” Ellie enjoys visiting classrooms around Central Illinois sharing the KidKnits story and teaching how to knit.

Now that KidKnits has expanded to support women in Chile as well as Rwanda, Ellie and her family had the opportunity to travel to Chile to meet the families there and begin to learn about another culture!

Read the Founder’s Letter

Meet the Team

KidKnits Family

Ellie is supported to the best of their abilities by her family including her mom, dad, and sisters, Coralie and Laynie.

Ellie’s dad, Steve is serving in the role of Executive Director of KidKnits.  In this capacity, he is focused on furthering the two missions of KidKnits: 1) to increase awareness in American youth about poverty in the world and empower them to make a difference and 2) to change lives of women in Rwanda and Chile through their yarn making ministry.

Ellie’s mom, Kristin is leading the curriculum development efforts of KidKnits, and developing other fun and easy knitting projects.  She also serves on the Board of KidKnits.

Ellie’s Grandpa, Ken, serves as president of the Board of KidKnits.

Stephen Schultz serves on the Board of KidKnits.

KidKnits is happy to announce that Ellie’s sisters, Coralie and Laynie are both serving in the role of Advisor to KidKnits.  Ellie’s little brother, Wally, contributes as an occasional model for smaller baby hat projects.


Meet Steve

KidKnits Executive Director

Steve Zika is honored to be the Executive Director of KidKnits, and is passionate about expanding the economic impact of KidKnits in Rwanda, Chile, and other regions of the world as well as the educational impact in the United States.

Steve, with his family, reached the decision five years ago to leave his job at Advanced Micro Devices to pursue a new career where he could apply the business leadership skills that he had developed during his time at AMD to address critical challenges facing our world today.

During the subsequent two years, Steve was the co-founder of Donavi, the non-profit that has evolved into KidKnits, as well as two other start-up companies.  He was blessed to be a part of the Donavi team that brought Immaculee Ilibagiza to Austin, Texas, and through that event was fortunate to meet Diana Wiley of True Vineyard Ministries.  After Steve’s daughter Ellie developed the concept of KidKnits, it started as a part-time hobby for Steve and the family.