How We Started

In 2007, the Portland office of engineering firm Kittelson & Associates, Inc. hired a graduate student from Cornell University to work as a summer intern. Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, affectionately known as Emmie, was a Rwandan native with an inspiring story of how he arrived at Cornell as a Fullbright 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 in excess of $500 per year, which means that most families cannot 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 in order to help at least some of the children continue their education.

After his internship with KAI, Emmie returned to Cornell and then to Rwanda, but not before stirring the hearts of many KAI staff 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.


Fabrice Shyaka was one of the first students to be sponsored by Kittelson Charitable Foundation in 2007. He visited the United States in 2018 as part of an engineering internship; you can listen to his short but compelling story in the following video.

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. There are many ways you can join KCF in its efforts to open the doors of opportunity to deserving students in Rwanda. You can join this effort by making contributions – in any combination – of your personal time, talent, an/or treasure. For example:

  • Time
    • Host a student during a three- to four-week “study abroad” visit to the United States.
    • Coordinate social media communication between individual KCF constituents and students.
    • Assist in coordinating and completing KCF’s annual online fundraising auction.
    • Apply your special talents for the benefit of KCF’s sponsored students.
  • Talent
    • Serve on KCF’s Board of Directors.
    • Donate items and/or services to KCF’s annual online fundraising auction.
    • Provide leadership in new fundraising activities.
    • Assist graduating students in their job searches.
    • Prepare regular reports, newsletters, photos and videos for distribution to KCF constituents.
    • Assist in the maintenance and enhancement of this website.
    • Coordinate KCF constituent visits to Rwanda.
  • Treasure
    • Make a one-time or a recurring financial contribution to KCF.
    • Assist in providing a matching gift from your employer.

Please use our Contact page to let us know if you would like to help us with this mission in one or more ways. There are many things to be done and the need is great, so this is a real opportunity to use your time, talents and treasure to build a lasting legacy of significant positive impacts on the world.