Bringing Our Communities Closer Together

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We frequently talk about African communities, but today, I’m thinking about Firelight’s other grassroots community.  The one you’re a part of.

You and many others belong to a growing grassroots network, much of it online, filled with people who believe in African community organizations and who are looking for ways to support them.

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Today we launched a new online strategy, summed up in our new tagline: Communities stop poverty. These three simple words encapsulate our mission, our beliefs, our goals, and our message.

We want to make the “grassroots to grassroots” connection stronger. Now, when you go to our website, you’ll see short-run Funds that allow you to learn more about the work of our partners, their unique strategies to effect change in their communities, with the chance to invest in their work right now.

If you know Firelight, you know that we believe in long-term investments. That hasn’t changed. We’ll continue to support our partners through our seven-year model. That partnership provides steady funding and support to community organizations as they grow into the powerhouses of their local areas, working to improve children and families’ lives. But there are also many opportunities throughout the year when communities could use more support, moments when small amounts of additional funding can make a big difference. We figured, what better way to answer their call then to give you the opportunity to support them.

What’s coming next is a series of Funds that allow you to learn more about our partners’ impact and invest in the opportunities that interest you. Each Fund will feature a small group of Firelight partners and a unique opportunity for engagement and investment. Your contribution will provide income on top of the usual Firelight core grant support. We then distribute the money evenly between each of the partners involved in the fund and they report back on the project within the year so that we can let everyone know what impact they were a part of on the ground.  All of the contributions to these Funds will go directly to grassroots organizations in Africa. This way, communities receive targeted investments for their specific needs; donors know that 100% of their donation will fill that need while being leveraged by Firelight’s continued holistic support.

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Today, you can take a look at Fund: Child Safety. We brought together four partners who work to protect children in very different ways. Justice for Children Trust in Zimbabwe works directly with children to advocate for them in courts and teach them about their rights. Lupwa Lwabumi Trust in Zambia works to improve communication between parents and caregivers and their children, while Kwa Wazee in Tanzania teaches girls self defense and boys peaceful conflict resolution skills, and Empilweni in South Africa uses play to ensure children have a safe, protected space to be a kid. You will have the chance to get to know these partners and to invest in Fund: Child Safety from now until January 31st.

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While the strategy, including our new website, all comes to life next week, it’s been quite a path to get here. We did some soul searching last year and asked ourselves, what is our core message, and how can we bring it to more people? We talked a lot about children, families, the power of community, and the impressive triumphs of community-based organizations in the face of deep struggles. It was in the midst of these conversations that we dreamed up our new tagline: “Communities Stop Poverty.”  This simple phrase has a lot of resonance for us. It expresses our belief that communities are children and families’ strongest, most reliable source of support. It is also a rallying cry to our other Firelight community, you and many others who support our partners on the ground.  You, as a community of support, can help stop poverty.

When you see our new online presence, you’ll see a more streamlined view of Firelight. We wanted to cut through the noise, put our values front and center, and give you a way to engage with our African partners.

We’re pretty excited about this next stage of Firelight. We want our community of donors, supporters, friends, and colleagues to see the African communities we partner with and know them by name. We hope that you will be as enthusiastic about the new approach as we are, and that you will play an active role in building out our community by spreading the word to your networks.

Let’s work together so that the online grassroots can support the African grassroots: two communities uniting to stop poverty.

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