Angelina Jolie has adopted three children from different countries, and now she’s taken her advocacy global.
The actress, 31, appeared at a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to announce the launch of Global Action for Children, a group that raises money for orphans in developing countries.
“I am here to simply ask you to think about orphaned children not as a burden but as a great opportunity,” Jolie said at the event. “Their education is an investment in our future. … They have had to work very, very hard to survive, but when they are given a chance, they grow strong, stronger than most. … The Lost Boys of Sudan are a great example.”
(Jolie and Brad Pitt recently donated $100,000 to a clinic in the Sudan founded by a former Lost Boy, and Pitt executive produced a documentary about the boys, God Grew Tired of Us.)
GAC, which aims to increase U.S. funding for orphans in developing countries by $2.5 billion per year, is notable because it’s non-partisan: One of the organization’s key proponents is former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie.
Earlier on Thursday, Jolie and GAC executive director Jennifer Delaney met with top leaders at the State Department, including Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Dina Powell and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes.
“It went very well,” Delaney tells PEOPLE. “We talked about how there is such a growing need to help children around the world. We talked a great deal about universal education and orphans and vulnerable children, so I do think there’s some receptiveness there to this issue.”
Jolie and Pitt are staunch advocates for humanitarian causes, and have spoken out on issues including the genocide in Darfur and rebuilding efforts in New Orleans. Last year, they donated $1 million to GAC.
• Reporting by MARY GREEN