About KCF

Our Mission

The mission of the Kittelson Charitable Foundation is to create educational opportunities for individual people to achieve a sustainable improvement in their own quality of life, so they can also positively affect the lives of others.

How We Started

Emmie as a summer intern (2007)

In 2007, Kittelson & Associates, Inc., an engineering firm, hired a graduate student from Cornell University to work as a summer intern in their Portland office. Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, affectionately known as Emmie, was a Rwandan native with an inspiring story of how he arrived at Cornell as a Fulbright Scholar from very humble beginnings. Emmie’s amazing success against all odds 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. 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 the US and sent as much of his earnings back to the village 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 stirring the hearts of many who wanted to help in his very worthwhile cause. The Kittelson Charitable Foundation was established in December 2007 with the contributions of people not just from KAI but from all walks of life who wanted to join in this mission.


  • 48 students, ranging in age from 5 to 30, are now in school.
  • 19 students are attending Rwanda’s top-ranked vocational school.
  • Five students are now in university programs.
  • Five students have visited the United States, bringing back inspiring stories and experiences to their classmates, friends, and families.
  • Two students received the highest possible score in the most recent national examinations.
  • Two students have been accepted into nationally- recognized universities in the United States.

How KCF Operates

100% of all contributions go to benefit the students and their families. There is no payroll, as Kittelson & Associates donates all necessary accounting support services, and Emmie personally manages all disbursements in Rwanda.

Student education goes beyond the classroom. For Rwanda to be able to take its place in the world economy, its citizens must see and understand more than just their local surroundings. KCF encourages tolerance, awareness, and networking by exposing students to new people and environments.

Lifetime relationships are built with each student. The students KCF is helping today will someday be in a position to also help others. To ensure this happens, there is regular check-ins with each student to build relationships and to gauge both academic and personal success. KCF is careful no to outgrow its ability to treat each student as an important and cared-for individual.

How You Can Help

Helping the next generation is among our most important responsibilities as world citizens. Please join KCF in its efforts to educate the first generation of students to come of age since the Rwanda genocide. Your contributions will have significant and long-lasting effects on the lives of the students as well as their families. Ultimately, they will help better change the world we all live in.

We have specific donation opportunities that go toward school supplies and tuition for students, and we would also love to see you at an upcoming KCF event. Thank you for taking the time to learn about our mission.