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 2021, there were 38.4 million people living with HIV.

36.7 million are adults (15 years or older).

1.7 million are children (0–14 years).

 54% of all people living with HIV are women and girls.

To read the most recent (2021) 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 $1,119,433 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

WELCOME to the Grassroot Grannies website.  

Our Own Fundraising Page

We have set up a fundraising page on which donations can be made directly to the Stephen Lewis Foundation. 

Tax receipts will be sent electronically for amounts of $20.00 and more. 

To make a donation

Click here
We are grandmothers - and we celebrate being grandmothers by helping the African grandmothers through all our fundraising initiatives. As an example, our donations to the Stephen Lewis Foundation this year-to-date exceed well over $100,000, bringing our total well over a million! We couldn’t have done this without the contributions and support of our own grannies, our grand-others, and you. This 2023 was a banner year and we look forward to continuing these successes in the years to come.

Thank you,
Judy Hansen & Karen Whiteside, co- chairs

To contact the Grassroot Grannies 
click here.
September 2023 Update
 Grassroot Grannies 
are celebrating 17 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
2022 - another very successful Ride To Turn The Tide - a two-day fundraising bike event. $91,000
was raised this year.

The Grassroot Grannies
14th Annual Ride to Turn the Tide
September 6th-7th 2023

To support the TEAM or to support an individual rider, visit the SLF website and check out our progress. 

To make a donation

Click here

Dear Supporter,

My colleagues at the Foundation remind me, time and time again, that I haven't written a new thank you letter to our supporters in years. They harass me willfully. They grow increasingly impatient. The problem is they're right, because your financial support at this moment means more than ever before. So this constitutes my penance. 

Cutbacks in global health, particularly women's health, are doing severe damage to families and communities across Africa where the AIDS pandemic is rooted. In our own limited fashion, we have to try to compensate for the turmoil this has caused.

But in fact, it's much more than that.

Further shocking, in the grand scheme of things, was the information that there are 6,200 new infections every week amongst young women and girls. I repeat: every week. The vulnerability of women has been the most brutal truth of HIV since the pandemic emerged over thirty years ago. Misogyny lies at the heart of it, and somehow we've never been able to fashion programs of prevention that would put an end to the carnage.

But the worst revelation in the UNAIDS report, by far, was the decline in international funding. Between 2017 and 2018, money for care, prevention and treatment of HIV declined by a billion dollars. The toll it takes at the grassroots is heartbreaking. Nor are there signs of a turnaround. The primary source of global dollars is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. For the period 2021 to 2023 inclusive, it has asked the donors for at least 14 billion dollars. It sounds like a lot and it is, but the Fund itself says that the total required is $32 billion, so there's a shortfall of $18 billion! The Fund refuses to ask for what is needed to bring an end to the pandemic.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with NGOs like the Stephen Lewis Foundation to fill some part of the gap, however miniscule. It leaves us with the most profound feelings of gratitude for the contribution you've made. There are no words....

Several years ago, UNAIDS made a dreadful mistake. They fashioned a public relations program based on the mantra "The End of AIDS". They were certain that this would prompt donors to contribute more. They were wrong. It actually lulled donors into a false sense of complacency. Now the women, men and children of Africa are paying the price.

With your support, you have saved lives, provided hope and helped turn the tide. Please see that as your legacy of social justice, human rights, compassion and decency. The beauty and strength of the Foundation is that it works entirely with community-based organizations, and the world has come to understand that support for the grassroots will one day lead to an end of the pandemic. But unlike others, we're under no illusion about the battle ahead. With your contribution, we're fighting side by side.

A letter From Stephen Lewis