Vulnerable Children in Sub-Saharan Africa


Helmsley's Vulnerable Children in Sub-Saharan Africa Program began in 2013. Through select nonprofit implementing partners, we invest in evidence-based interventions that provide at-risk children with greater access to education, improved food and nutrition, and clean water and sanitation. We seek to support sustainable solutions that will leave durable and lasting change within the communities touched. The program’s initial grantmaking efforts have been in Kenya, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Angola, Ethiopia, and Zambia, supporting a range of integrated development initiatives.  


The Vulnerable Children Program funds integrated strategic priorities in remote and rural areas with limited access to public and private services. As nutrition, clean water, sanitation, and educational outcomes are closely linked within impoverished communities, Helmsley's giving strategy focuses on effective organizations that address these priorities collectively:

Food Security and Nutrition

Our grantmaking focuses on improved agricultural production, behavior change communication, and savings and lending groups, which can improve access, stability, and utilization of diverse and nutritious foods among communities with chronic malnutrition and food shortages. 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

We support community-led total sanitation and clean water initiatives in rural villages. Community ownership and maintenance of water and sanitation facilities, as well as adoption of hygiene practices are central to Helmsley's commitment to sustainability.


We seek to mitigate the major barriers that at-risk children face in school retention and learning. Through savings and lending programs, parents can build economic resilience to keep kids in school. Improved water access through boreholes and wells reduces time burdens on school children and fosters protective hygiene, improved water storage, and other behavioral change practices that can bolster learning outcomes through improved health and cognitive functioning.

Neglected Tropical Diseases

This program supports the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases.  Collectively, these diseases affect 1.5 billion people, including 800,000 children.  Through school and community-based health facilities, the program supports mass drug administration, treatment, and hygiene and sanitation initiatives with the aim of controlling or eradicating intestinal worms, trachoma, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, and river blindness. Managing these diseases can lead to immediate improvements in children’s nutritional status, health, and well-being.