Firelight Foundation: Grants for Girls and Women

OVERVIEW: The Firelight Foundation supports organizations whose work centers on improving the health, education, resilience, and livelihoods of children in select African countries.

IP TAKE: This foundation funds organizations with strong local ties.

PROFILE: Kerry Olson and her husband Dave Katz established the Firelight Foundation in 1999; however, the foundation did not begin operating as a public charity until 2011. Firelight partners with “major foundations, family foundations, and individual philanthropists to find, fund, and strengthen local community organizations that are addressing significant gaps and opportunities for vulnerable children in Africa.” Firelight’s grantmaking priorities—or “impact areas”—include quality early childhood development (Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia), innovations in early learning (Tanzania), improvements in secondary education (Malawi), fighting against child marriage (Tanzania), girls economic empowerment (Rwanda), and protecting vulnerable children (Lesotho).

While the foundation does not have a grantmaking program dedicated solely to girls and women, its financials indicate strong support for related organizations.Through a combination of cash grants and “bespoke mentoring,” Firelights supports organizations such as the Safina Women’s Association, which works to improve the wellbeing of women and children through improving education, advocating for effective policymaking, and financial inclusion efforts. Past grantees also include Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa (AGE Africa), which received support for its education and mentoring programs in Malawi. To learn more about Firelight grantees, explore its grantee partners list.

Grant amounts typically range from $5,000 to $50,000, and grantmaking prioritizes community-based and local organizations. Firelight does not generally accept letters of inquiry or request for funding except during times in which it has issued an open call for proposals.


  • Nina Blackwell, Executive Director
  • Joshua Kyallo, Managing Director
  • Carolyne Ng’eny, Program Officer
  • Tomaida Banda, Program Officer