our history

In December 1999, the Firelight Foundation was begun by Kerry Olson and Dave Katz with a mission to address the needs of children orphaned and affected by HIV, AIDS, and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. After becoming beneficiaries of a Silicon Valley public offering, Kerry and Dave founded Firelight to support grassroots African initiatives serving children, based on global evidence that community-based care provides a better future for vulnerable children.

 Today, Firelight is a multi-donor public charity fund which has helped community-based organizations to support millions of children, families, and communities by raising funds from foundations, philanthropists, and individual donors. Since Firelight’s founding in 1999, we have:

  • Made 1600+ grants, totaling more than $24+ million

  • Granted in 12 African countries: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

  • Supported 365 community-based organizations, including many Community Grantmakers that have supported countless additional CBOs

  • Raised $33+ million since 2010 when Firelight became a public charity

  • Impacted millions of children, parents, caregivers, professionals, and community members

In Firelight’s 20-year history, we have also:

  • Co-founded the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS (CCABA) with Bernard van Leer Foundation, International AIDS Alliance, and Teresa Group

  • Co-founded the International Education Funders’ Group with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

  • Co-founded the Faith to Action Initiative to encourage faith communities to direct resources to the most effective family- and community-based solutions