Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa—affectionately known as Emmie—stirred our hearts during his summer internship in 2007.
Kittelson & Associates, Inc. had hired Emmie, a graduate student from Cornell University, to work as an intern in our Portland office. Emmie was a Fulbright Scholar at Cornell, and as we got to know him during his internship, we learned his academic success had made him a role model and hero to the young people in his small village of Ngarama, most of whom can’t afford to go to high school on their own.
Emmie is on the older side of the first generation of students growing up after the Rwandan genocide. Per capita income in Rwanda is about $200 per year and the cost of tuition, books, and supplies is more than $600 per year, which means that most families can’t afford to send their children to high school.
Emmie lived modestly while in Portland and sent as much of his earnings back to Ngarama as possible to help at least some of the children continue their education. After his internship, Emmie returned to Cornell and then to Rwanda, but not before compelling our staff and many others who wanted to help in his cause to expand opportunities for children in Rwanda through education.
When Wayne Kittelson reached out to Emmie and asked him if there were other Rwandan students that would benefit from financial support to pursue educational endeavors, Emmie gave him a list of 26 names.
“I know them all, I know their families; they all would benefit from more education,” he told Wayne. “Pick any one of them.”
Kittelson staff and our families and friends came together to sponsor all 26. And that’s how Kittelson Charitable Foundation (KCF) began.
Today, the Foundation is an independently-run 501(c)3 organization that includes collaborative support from other engineering firms, non-engineering businesses, and individuals around the world who share our vision of transforming tomorrow through today’s educational opportunities. Because Kittelson covers all overheard costs, 100% of donations go directly to support students and their families.
Wayne Kittelson, who serves as president of KCF, communicates with Emmie throughout the year and stays involved with financials, but he doesn’t decide from afar how the dollars should be designated. Rather, Emmie and a KCF team in Rwanda recommend hardworking students for the program and allocate funds to maximize the impact and meet the educational needs they see firsthand. KCF donations cover tuition, travel, food and boarding, and other school-related costs.
Wayne has organized several trips to Rwanda, during which KCF supporters are able to make personal connections with the students and learn their stories. We are truly inspired by the example of reconciliation and optimism the Rwandan people have set in the years following the genocide, and we believe that education is one of the biggest gifts we can give this rising generation.
Images below by Avel Chuklanov from Kittelson Charitable Foundation’s trip to Rwanda in February 2019.
Join Us at the 2019 Kittelson Charitable Foundation Gala Dinner
In 2018, more than ten years after Kittelson Charitable Foundation was founded, we hosted a gala fundraiser in Portland, OR to develop more support for the program and recognize the students who now work in veterinary science, law, engineering, carpentry, finance, accounting, food service, hospitality, and construction management, largely due to the support they received from KCF. We celebrated the theme of “Do Good Every Day” and the event was such a wonderful experience that KCF is bringing the gala back in 2019.
The 2019 gala has a theme of “Expand Your Heart” and will take place on August 7, again in Portland. It will be a celebratory evening of Rwandan story and dance highlighting the achievements of the Rwandan students sponsored by the foundation since 2007. We invite all colleagues, clients, and friends of Kittelson & Associates to join us.
Wednesday, August 7, 2019 | 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Exchange Ballroom, 123 NE 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97232
If this is a cause that interests you, there are two key ways you can participate:
Purchase a sponsorship or gala ticket
Purchase a sponsorship or gala ticket. Join us in celebrating our mission and accomplishments, and help us raise awareness about the opportunity to change young lives in a very significant and positive way.
Not able to attend? Make a donation
If you’re not able to attend, you can make a donation that will literally change the world. You’ll help us keep very deserving students in school, on their way to achieving personal success, and—just as important—in a position to help others, too.
To date, Kittelson Charitable Foundation has affected and built long-lasting relationships with more than 70 students and their families in Rwanda. Learn more about Kittelson Charitable Foundation and the gala fundraiser.