Grassroots forward – New fund launched by the One World Children’s Fund


Stephanie Simpson and Kabanda Obed


Recent years have seen the philanthropic sector shift focus from charity to social justice issues that reflect the common threads of humanity that connect us all: equality, prosperity, and peace.  As long term advocates of grassroots led development, this is a welcome change that breathes new life into the, now widely recognized, inadequate international aid and charity sector of the past.

It was therefore exciting to hear the recent World Humanitarian Summit highlight the significance of local actors and regional philanthropists in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.  It is now commonplace to pay lip service to locally driven development, and the announcement of the commitment to increase funding at the local level to increase from 0.3 per cent to 25 per cent by 2020 is encouraging.

There are those of us also, who are already working on the success of this goal, Thousand Currents (IDEX), One World Children’s Fund, Global Fund for Women, Global Fund for Children, and there are new networks and collabor atives being launched to facilitate the transfer of funds directly to local organizations at the grassroots level, Grassroots Forward Fund-GFF, NEAR Network, Grassroots Climate Change Fund.  Hopefully, larger funding institutions reach out to us and seek our guidance in order to successfully meet this ambitious goal.

In spite of all of this encouraging news and respectful dialogue, there is one key concern that is worrying and demands our urgent attention.  The hype is not meeting the needs on the ground.

Each day, as you read news from around the world, you will see growing inequality, an expanding refugee crisis that is costing lives, inadequate healthcare systems that allow pandemics to spread at an alarming and deathly rate, increased school dropouts , natural disasters at an increasingly common occurrence that kill the most vulnerable, and a growing isolation of large parts of the world’s population who feel left behind and ignored.

When it comes to humanity and the future of those of us who call this planet home, we cannot afford to wait any longer. We must move beyond the rhetoric and noise in the conference halls and do everything we can, together, to see these much needed funds reach the grassroots level- and that they do so, quickly.

The message we hear from our grassroots partners in all corners of the world is loud and clear: ‘……..we need access to resources and we need a seat at the decision making table!.’  At One World Children’s Fund, we have invested time, money, and trust in our grassroots partners.

Grassroots leaders, such as Obed Kabanda of Action for Community Development-ACODEV in Uganda, have represented One World at various international conferences & meetings, including AGAG, IHRFG, Women Deliver, EDGE, and more.  By opening up these bridges, trusting local partners to represent ourselves on a global platform, and breaking down the barriers that are preventing the sector from pushing past the rhetoric, we have already seen effective results.

This year alone, we have disbursed more than $1 million in funding to over 50 grassroots organizations in strategic and self -defined projects targeting children and women.  We recently received news of a $400,000 grant that will go directly to a locally run, public health organization in Uganda.  With thanks to the generosity of a family Foundation and a $500,000 grant, we are excited to launch the Grassroots Forward Fund, which has 3 main goals:

1) Provide more than $2.5 million each year to 50+ grassroots organizations.
2) Diversify philanthropy and the funding decision making table.
3) Build partnerships to increase grassroots capacity.

These goals are significant and meaningful to our partners, and will go a long way in ensuring public health care systems in rural communities can be strengthened, victims of trafficking can be rescued and reunited with families, and former child soldiers and child victims of neglect, violence and abuse can be reached with support services, educated, and provided a safe and loving environment in which to grow and thrive.

It is however, a drop in the ocean, compared to the need, the attainment dream of the SDGS, and the global commitment to reach a funding goal of 25 per cent to local actors by 2020 (This commitment only speaks to the humanitarian aid sector which alone is a $28 billion industry.)

So, we call on philanthropists, practitioners, and public officials, who are ready to move beyond the rhetoric and direct more funding to the grassroots level, to join us and the other leaders in this space who have spent years building relationships with effective grassroots leaders and let’s make sure that not only are the SDGs met, but that a new progressive humanitarian and social justice sector emerges from the crises that we are witnessing in today’s world.

We, humanity, cannot afford to wait any longer.

Obed Kabanda, co-founded ACODEV in 2003 and currently sits as the executive director.
Steph Heckman is the executive director of One World Children’s Fund.

Comments (11)

Martin Byesero

Coffee Estate project. I am writing to request for details and grant application form for coffee growing and community empowerment project. I shall be glad to hear from you Thank you

Joshua Ainabyona

Great job done, cant wait joining the struggle in Uganda. Thanks everyone for these efforts to save the lives of the million less privileged children and women

Kazi Zaved Khalid Pasha

Steph and Obed many thanks for your initiatives. It will help strengthening bottom up approach. Voiceless will be empowered and incapacitated to demand their rights. Oppressed and marginalized will be benefited. We appreciate your noble endeavor. Zaved


I couldn't refrain from commenting. Very well written!

Balasundharan AA

Dear and Respected Sir, Warm Greetings from SCORE, India Society for Community Organization and Rural Education (SCORE) is Registered Non – Governmental Organization (Regd. No: 27/95 and FCRA No.: 076040232) Voluntary Social Service Organization and working for the Rural and Tribal poorest of the poor and needy people. We have been implementing various welfare and development programs and projects to elevate the Socio-Economic conditions of poor, down trodden, SC / ST and other disadvantaged communities of this area. And also our organization has been involved in multifarious Social Welfare programme such as all round development in Health, Education, Rights based works, Stigma and Discrimination of HIV/AIDS, Environment development and Climate Change, Poverty Alleviation, Child Education and Rights, Organic farming and sustainable Agriculture, Skill Training for youth and Girls, Reduce the maternal and newborn mortality through Women SHG and women or youth empowerment etc sector for the up-liftment of downtrodden community from some other sources of assistance's as well as according our ability and possibility Karur, Trichy and Namakkal Districts of TamilNadu, India. We are seeking funding support from your organization to fulfill our target area women development and welfare and activities. Please help us and guide us to obtain the possible funding and fundraising from your organization. Please do the Needful and favour. We shall be ever sincere & grateful to you, We are looking forward to hear from you Thanking you, Yours Sincerely, AA.BALASUNDHARAN, Secretary - SCORE Vedhachalapuram, Thogaimalai Post, Karur – 621313, TamilNadu, South India. Phone: 0091-04323-252482 / Mobile: 09443533617 E.mail:

Turyaheebwa Doreen

Thanks Mr. Obed and your colleagues for the tireless work done please keep up the spirit of voicing for voiceless but also advocacy for reduces strings on most funds for the poor to deal with real problem that affect the grass root people. Thanks

Lauben Tushemereirwe

Hope Never Runs Dry. The Orphans and other Vulnerable Children in Uganda have a cause to smile. Thank you for all innovations and the trust for grass root NGOs as they have direct link to needy communities and are strong pillars for sustainability. All the best...

Moses Ntenga

This is a great cause, atleast the voices have been heard and I am certain there will be a great shift in the coming years and the impact to the grassroots communities will be visible. Thanks to you Obed and Steph for job well done.

andrew koolya

As Prophet I saiah proclaimed about the coming of Jesus Christ (Isiaiah 42:2) "He will not shout or raise his voice or make loud speeches in the streets" but his voice shall be heard, so is your "Voice for the Voiceless". Obed be assured that together we can shake and overcome any form of injustice in our respective societies. Like a mastered seed referred to by Jesus in Mark 4:30-34 many needy will find peace, shelter, confort, joy and prosperity through this funding.

Kabugho louise

Thanks Steph and Obed. The work that you are doing is great and we believe that if all donor funds are targeted towards the grass root organisation then more vulnerable lives would be impacted through these resources.


The Struggle continues! We are more than committed to move the fund forward. We need your support and encouragement. Thank you all.

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