What is the Stephen Lewis Foundation?

The Stephen Lewis Foundation is a non profit charitable organization supporting community-level organizations that are turning the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa. They provide care and support to women, orphans, grandmothers and people living with HIV and AIDS.  Since 2003, they have committed and distributed $130.7 million to 1800 initiatives, and partnered with over 325 community-based organizations in 15 African countries. To find out more  click here

Why have we decided to support the Stephen Lewis Foundation?
We are connecting with the Foundation because we feel confident that our help reaches the grandmothers and children most in need. For example, the Foundation helps grandmothers provide school fees for their grandchildren, secure food, provide opportunities to earn a living and assist them with counseling and much needed social and health care support.  To learn more about specific projects and how the money  is used to help community-based organizations click here.

Calculating Administrative Costs
Many have asked how much of the money raised for the Foundation goes toward administrative costs. The Stephen Lewis Foundation is one of very few charitable organizations that is able to keep their administrative costs as low "as humanly possible".  Their costs have been broken down into three categories: core administration, fundraising or funds development, and program funding. Click here for a view of their financials. 


The Grassroot Grannies, launched in 2006, is part of the grandmother movement sweeping Canada. There are currently over 240 similar granny groups across Canada involving more than 10,000 people. To date close to $39M has been raised through the Grandmothers Campaign 

Did You Know?

In 2017, there were 36.9 million people living with HIV worldwide.  Since the start of the global AIDS epidemic an estimated 78 million have been infected and 35 million have died of AIDS-related illnesses. 

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to roughly 70% of all people living with HIV, but only 15% of the global population.

To read the most recent (2016) UN AIDS Fact Sheets
click here 

  Ottawa-Gatineau Region Grandmothers Network (O-GRGN)

The O-GRGN is a a loosely formed network of 19 granny groups in the Ottawa - Gatineau region spreading out from as far west as Perth, north to Deep River and Pembroke, south to Morrisburg and east to Metcalfe and Quebec in the towns of Aylmer and Wakefield.  The O-GRGN convenes meetings of key leaders in the regional granny groups, hosts the Granny Fest, a learning and sharing one day conference every 18 months and organizes from time to time information and awareness events.

The grandmothers groups share three goals
  • Raise funds to meet the needs of African grandmothers and children in their care
  • Raise awareness about the expertise and leadership of Africa's grandmothers and their struggle to secure a hopeful and healthy future their children in their care
  • Build solidarity among grandmothers in order to better understand and sustain the vital work being done at the grassroots to turn the tide of AIDS in Africa

Advocacy GRAN style

GRAN takes action on 4 key areas:

1. The Right to Economic Security and Social Protection ...read more here

2. The Right to Education and Lifelong Learning...read more here

3. The Right to Freedom from Violence...read more here

4. The Right to Health...read more here

Grandmothers Advocacy Network - Mouvement de soutien des grands-meres, or GRAN is a non-partisan network of volunteers working together across Canada to advocate at local, national and international levels for the human rights of grandmothers, children and youth of sub-Saharan Africa. GRAN educates to raise public awareness and invite engagement. They advocate to influence national and global policy-makers and partner with like-minded organizations to amplify our voices and increase our impact.

For further information about the work of GRAN visit their website
Did you know?  Only 10% of funds raised for the Grandmothers Campaign are used for administrative overhead.
Canadian grannies 
African grannies
Since 2006, when the Grassroot Grannies first began, we have raised $926,350 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

WELCOME to the Grassroot Grannies website.  

Our Own Fundraising Page

In this time of Covid-19 we have had to turn to virtual creative means of raising funds for the Grandmothers Campaign.

For this purpose we have set up a fundraising page on which donations can be made directly to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. 

Instantly, income tax receipts will be sent electronically for amounts of $20.00 and more. 

To make donations 
click here

COVID just won’t give up, but neither will we Grassroot Grannies! Although our traditional fundraisers have been altered or postponed, our group has kept the energy alive to reach our goals of reliable support for our African grandmothers and their orphaned grandchildren. We are in awe of the generous donations of our friends and families. Even without our usual plant sale or book exchange, our mask sales, on-line marketplace, garage sale, and especially the RIDE event, have this year all resulted in proceeds to the Stephen Lewis Foundation of over $100,000, a substantial increase over past years! Huge thanks to our many supporters.

Judy Hansen & Karen Whiteside
​Co-Chairs, Grassroot Grannies
September 2021 Update

The Grassroot Grannies started as a small gathering of friends. During our time together, it’s been a hallmark of our group that each individual has contributed their unique talents, energy and insights without reservation.

More recently, Covid has provided us with a huge fundraising challenge.
The more tightly we were “locked down”, the more creative and productive our group became.

Not only were hundreds of face masks made and distributed, but also cards, crafts, scarves, etc. were sold on our website; and, yes, we became “techie grandmothers”! Zoom meetings became the norm; items were sold on “Facebook, Market Place”. 

Luckily we were able to modify our Ride to Turn the Tide cycle for the second year in a row and hold it as a one day event. Fundraising, once again, surpassed our wildest dreams!

Equally important throughout the years has been the effort put into advocacy in order to raise awareness of the plight of African grandmothers.

From marches on Parliament Hill to participating in O-GRGN, to creating a web presence, visiting schools, engaging media and politicians, hosting community events and involving family and friends, our message has been kept active.

Today, we are a much larger group. The commitment to help others has not diminished. Friendship has cemented our resolve to make a difference. This is the legacy we will leave to our grandchildren and friends.

Grassroot Grannies, Celebrating 15 years: A Reflection on Adaptability, Optimism, Creativity and Dedication

First, in celebrating our time together, The Grassroot Grannies would like to thank Stephen Lewis for initiating The Grandmother to Grandmother Campaign and allowing us to come along on this incredible and important journey. He had the insight to mobilize the wisdom, energy, dedication and enthusiasm of older women… AND what a 15 years it has been! This year alone almost 11 million dollars has been raised to support community-based organizations.

Grandmother and Child  
A universal and deeply important connection. 
A bridge to the future.  
 Grassroot Grannies 
are celebrating 15 years of success

Some historical milestones

2012Grandparents Rally on the Hill advocating for Bill C-398 which would allow Canada to make a cheaper generic anti-viral drugs for HIV/AIDS for sub-Saharan Africa
2007 - The first Plant Sale and Garden Tour hosting grannies from sub-Saharan Africa.
 2009 - The Ride To Turn The Tide (RTTTT)
fundraising bike tour took place under the capable guidance of Nancy Hough and her team.
2010 - Breakfast, Books and Bijoux was held for the first time at the Kanata Golf and Country Club. It is now called the Books and Breakfast Buffet.
2016 - Grassroot Grannies participated in the Grand Market at Lansdowne Park.
2020 - During Covid-19 the Grassroot Grannies developed and posted their own fundraising page.  The sales of face masks made by the GGs raised over $13,000

2011 - The Grassroot Grannies participated in the 3rd Granny Fest - a day-long event of learning, sharing and celebrating with other grandmother groups in the Ottawa-Gatineau Region.
2019 - The last 3-day RTTTT event before Covid 19 hit
2008 - The first Solidarity March on the Hill in Ottawa
2021 - another very successful Ride To Turn The Tide - a one-day fundraising bike event. $97,500 
was raised this year.