aka CLF   |   New York City, NY   |


The Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) was founded in 2012 by Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty in honor of her grandparents, Clara and Lionel Braithwaite. CLF invests in climate justice initiatives in the Caribbean & United States and helps communities prepare for and withstand natural disasters.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Justine Lucas

Main address

545 Fifth Avenue Suite 1100

New York City, NY 10017 USA

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NTEE code info

Public Foundations (T30)

Disaster Preparedness and Relief Services (M20)

Nonprofit Management (S50)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

With more than 263 million young people not in school globally, a significant part of a generation is at risk of getting left behind. Access to a quality education is a critical component for a more productive and happier life. Without this focus, youth and their families become increasingly vulnerable to conditions that create poverty. Through our partnership with the organization Camfed, the Global Scholarship Program and the Barbados Micro Grants Program, the Clara Lionel Foundation is providing more youth with access to quality education. Emergency Response is a critical focus for CLF due to the increase in the number and intensity of natural disasters globally. After a natural disaster, vulnerable populations are forced to deal with major damages and displacement, further complicating efforts to break the cycle of poverty. By investing in preparedness before a natural disaster hits, we are reducing the impact of disasters and supporting the resilience of communities globally.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Emergency Response

We put philanthropy to work in a more strategic way to help vulnerable communities better withstand disasters before they hit.

Every year, more than 200 million people globally are affected by climate change-related natural disasters. More than 75 million children and young people are affected with 26 million people pushed into poverty.

Climate change is resulting in an increase in both the number and impact of natural disasters globally. It impacts every country, on every continent. That means more people at risk—particularly vulnerable communities—and economic damage in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Typically, what happens when a natural disaster like a hurricane occurs, we see hundreds of organizations all rushing to help at the same time, often uncoordinated, which ends up creating duplicative efforts that, in the end, aren’t as effective as they can, or should, be. Especially for the world’s most vulnerable populations who need them most.

We believe emergency response efforts are not adequately equipped to take on this increasing challenge and are stuck in an antiquated model that is largely reactionary, uncoordinated and short-lived. On top of this, because funds are largely raised reactively—that is, after the disaster has happened—donor fatigue inevitably sets in and people’s attention ends up disappearing as quickly as the news cycle, leaving those impacted forever left behind to pick up the pieces of their lives outside of the public eye.

We seek to turn this traditional philanthropic approach to emergency response on its head, shifting to one that is proactive, coordinated, sustainable and, most importantly, inclusive of the needs of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Our hope is that other organizations and multi-sector actors will adopt this new model. With widespread adoption and continuous and collective iteration based on successful implementations, lessons learned and even solutions failures, we can all be part of a new global effort to protect the world's most fragile ecosystems and vulnerable populations.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

In 2017, CLF began supporting girls secondary education in Malawi in partnership with the organization Camfed and will impact over 7,500 girls by 2021. CLF’s strategic commitment in Malawi includes financial support for secondary school students, in-kind support in the form of bike donations to address transportation gaps and financial support for the transition from secondary school to ensure a holistic approach. CLF’s latest investment in Malawi addresses another obstacle to students staying in school: access to HIV testing and care. In response to this need, CLF is supporting an HIV testing program in Mulanje (a region with a 22% prevalence rate). This program builds on CLF’s other education work by including Camfed graduates in the program.

In 2016, CLF joined forces with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), an international education and advocacy organization, Global Citizen, to tackle the global education crisis on a broader scale through advocacy. Through this partnership, CLF has also invested in education in Senegal where the foundation is supporting infrastructure and long-term sustainability of schools in the Tambacounda region and Dakar.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Through the Global Scholarship Program, students from Brazil, Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, Grenada, Guyana, and Jamaica who have been accepted into an accredited four-year college or university in the U.S. can receive scholarships from CLF. The Global Scholarship Program was established to directly support young people who come to the United States to pursue higher education. CLF helps ensure that recipients have the resources to make the most of their time at college or university.

Population(s) Served

CLF’s Barbados Micro Grants Program supports primary and secondary schools and nonprofit organizations with funding for youth development projects and academic programs. Currently, the program supports five schools and one non-profit organization, Operation Triple Threat (OTT), a developmental performing arts program for students between the ages of 7 and 21. CLF works with recipients to assess highest needs and grants are renewed annually. Twelve grants have been issued through the program since 2016.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The Clara Braithwaite Center for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados was established in 2012. This program falls under CLF’s special projects pillar. CLF started the comprehensive effort to deliver quality diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients in Barbados. The goal of the center is to help improve the lives of the people of Barbados by providing quality cancer treatment. CLF has contributed three pieces of equipment – an equinox external beam, brachytherapy system, and gamma camera CT scan – that analyze and eradicate cancer throughout the body. CLF has also donated two baby incubators to the pediatrics department that have been in service since January 2018. In 2017, CLF donated a Rad 8 Signal Extraction Pulse Oximeter monitor that is used for monitoring the heart rate, pulse, and vital signs of newborns. CLF is continuing to assess strategies to support long-term stability at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Fast Company's World's Most Innovative Companies 2020

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Clara Lionel Foundation is focused on supporting resilient and sustainable communities globally by increasing access to quality education and supporting emergency preparedness and disaster relief efforts in vulnerable communities.

CLF’s goal is to partner with organizations and communities who have demonstrated a track record of success in their commitment to serving vulnerable populations. CLF works closely with our education partners to ensure that youth have the provisions to attain a quality education and succeed in school. CLF builds meaningful partnerships with emergency response organizations and communities on the ground to implement projects and strategies for mitigating the impact of natural disasters before they strike. Types of projects that CLF will invest in may include hurricane-resistant shelters, hardened health facilities, and investments in solar and alternative powers among others.

Our continued focus on education will create increased access to quality educational opportunities for youth. Through our approach on emergency preparedness, CLF will create stronger communities more capable of withstanding the impacts of natural disasters and therefore less likely to fall into even deeper cycles of poverty.

The Clara Lionel Foundation leverages corporate partnerships, collaborations with other nonprofits, foundations & thought leaders to ensure that CLF’s work is sustainable, innovative, and efficient. CLF believes that significant change is only achieved by breaking silos and forming cross-sector partnerships. CLF views each organization or institution it funds as a partner and not simply a grantee. Through a thorough and collaborative application process, CLF seeks to support organizations that also treat the communities they work with as partners as well. The team at CLF believes strongly that local leaders and organizations are the best leaders to enact local change.

In order to move the needle on issues related to education and emergency response, CLF supports advocacy efforts under these pillars. CLF’s focus on advocacy encourages political leaders to take actionable steps towards improving policies directly related to education and emergency response in their respective countries.

The Clara Lionel Foundation draws on the experiences of our staff and grantee partners who have expertise in areas across nonprofit management, disaster relief, advocacy, and education. Drawing on this expertise allows CLF to use an informed approach towards defining our strategy and meeting our goals. CLF also has a built-in history of working with many organizations at the forefront of the emergency response space. CLF was one of the first organizations to mobilize help on the ground after hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria. CLF often plays a coordinating role connecting governmental institutions and national disaster agencies to the philanthropy/nonprofit sector.

In September 2018, CLF launched a $25M philanthropic fund designed to build a new model for emergency responsiveness to help more communities prepare and withstand disasters before they hit. The fund will invest in projects that promote preparedness and resilience, short-term responsiveness, and long-term recovery.

In 2016, CLF partnered with the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed), an organization tackling poverty and inequality and utilized a holistic 360 model that supported young girls in their efforts to attend school and succeed. This partnership has allowed over 7,000 girls in Malawi to advance in their secondary education. CLF learned that a barrier girls faced in getting to school was traveling long distances (many students in Malawi travel four hours or more to get to school). As a result, CLF donated thousands of bicycles and hosted a bicycle repair training in 2018 to enable young women to be able to more easily traverse the long distances between home and school as well as possess the skills to care for their own bicycles or open their own bicycle-repair businesses.

Through the Global Scholarship Program, CLF has provided scholarships to 17 high school students from the Caribbean and South America who are currently pursuing higher education in the United States.

In Barbados, the Micro Grants program has directly supported the purchase of necessary equipment for primary and secondary schools across Barbados. CLF also launched a scholarship program at Operation Triple Threat (OTT), a performing arts group in Barbados that allows students to participate in year-round OTT programming.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 02/27/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Robyn "Rihanna" Fenty

Fenty Corp

Name Name Name


Mai Laissiter

Kawanna Brown

Magic Johnson Enterprises Inc.

Jay Brown

Roc Nation, LLC.

Monica Fenty

Lukas Haynes

Rockefeller Advisers

Jessie Schutt-Aine

Tamara Larsen

Cheryl Alston

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 6/29/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

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