Riayah Foundation Inc

Developing leaders for a better tomorrow

aka Ri'ayah   |   Lansdale, PA   |


The mission of the Ri’ayah Foundation, Inc. is to provide disadvantaged children in Liberia education, healthcare, nutrition, inspiration, and motivation while enabling them to live healthier, more independent lives.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Hawa Asmahan Sheriff

Main address

P.O.Box 1714

Lansdale, PA 19446 USA

Show more contact info



NTEE code info

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (R12)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

International Educational Development (Q34)

IRS filing requirement

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


Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Ranked 182 out of 197 countries, Liberia is a struggling nation devastated by years of civil war, disease, and increasing poverty. Liberia lost 80% of its schools during civil wars; consequently, it is significantly behind most other African countries in nearly all education statistics. The 2015 youth literacy rate was 54.5% and adult literacy was 47.6%. Civil wars resulted in over 150,000 deaths, the displacement of 3 million people, and severe damage to Liberia’s infrastructure. The 2014 Ebola epidemic further decimated the population, leaving survivors an impossible task of caring for thousands of orphans and rebuilding schools, hospitals, and facilities capable of sanitizing water supplies and waste materials. Liberia’s healthcare system is still inadequate. Hospitals lack basic medications, and some don’t even have essential items like surgical gloves. Preventable diseases continue to decimate the population because of poor education, sanitation, health care and nutrition.

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?


The importance of education cannot be overestimated, as it is the key to a bright and successful future. At the Ri’ayah Foundation, it is our firm belief that all children deserve a chance to get a quality education, as it is the best way for them to realize their true potential. Our focus is to provide children with the opportunity to learn and develop, so they can grow up to be an integral and healthy part of their communities.
We support 28 students (we started with 15) aged 6-15. This includes tuition, books, transportation, uniforms, and, in some cases, room and board.
Measure of success: Number of students we help attend school; number of students who graduate.
Library programs: teach children to read, write, and do mathematics.
Measure of success:
Construction of a building to house the library (completed).
No. of books for students to borrow and take home.
No. of students who learn to read.
Amount of increase in literacy rate in villages we serve.
Our library serves all school-aged children, whether in school or not. Students who don’t attend school use the library during school hours; they are taught reading, writing and math skills. School students attend after school programs to get homework help and read books.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

With almost 95% of its healthcare facilities destroyed during the civil wars and qualified medical personnel scattered or nonexistent, the number of people who have access to basic healthcare is the lowest in the world. According to various research sites, somewhere between 40 and 51 healthcare facilities were left still functioning in Liberia after the Civil War ended in 2003, with staff scattered and undermanned. This means only about 10% of the Liberian people are close enough to a facility or able to afford access. According to the website, only 40 Liberian doctors and 50 documented midwives currently serve Liberia’s entire population. World Health Organization (WHO) data indicates Liberian life expectancy as of 2015 is between 59 and 63 years of age, compared to 76 -82 in the United States, and 81 – 85 in Italy.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Young adults
Older adults
Social and economic status

The youth development programs are skill training programs designed to provide our youth with useful skills as they participate in an activity in their field of interest outside school hours. The acquisition of skills is of great importance, as it can provide a good source of income to many across the world. The goal of these programs is to teach our youth to be self-sufficient. By assisting children to survive to reach adulthood, we enable them to become self-supporting individuals who are able to care for themselves, their families, and contribute significantly to the future of their community.

• Agriculture: demonstrate farming techniques to teach best agricultural practices, good nutritional choices, and self-sufficiency.
Measure of success: no. of individuals who learn to farm and the number of families fed.

Skill classes:
• Sewing school: teach young women sewing and business skills to enable them to generate income.
Measure of success:
The number of
o students we reach and teach
o students who become self-supporting
o sewing machines we can provide
o teachers we can support to teach the lessons
Erection of a building to house the sewing school (completed).
The sewing school serves young women who are not in school and are in need of a skill to improve their quality of living.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

In the Liberian culture, many do not believe girls should go to school. Education is considered important for males, but not for women.Traditionally, girls are the caretakers in the home: it is their place to get water, start the fires, cook, watch children and more. Girls often cannot attend school regularly because of their work requirements at home. Young girls who are not yet caretakers are expected to help work on farms, either instead of going to school or in their time outside of school, which often prevents them from progressing in their education.Some families won’t allow the children to go to school, because that means less income from their work, and the family cannot survive without their income.

Education creates more opportunities for women, and paves the way for women to help improve their own livesand the lives and condition of their community. Liberian girls who receive more years of education are more likely to marry later and have fewer children, which enables them to remain longer in school, better support their future family, and pursue a self-supporting job. Educated women make better choices for health, nutrition, finances, and have higher self-esteem. They introduce healthier habits into their homes, increasing the likelihood of their children’s survival; consequently, the survival rate of infants with more educated mothers is higher than the national average.They are able to make better decisions for buying, choosing, and preparing foods, providing a healthier diet for their families, which increases the overall health of family members.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
Children and youth

Where we work

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 mission of the Ri’ayah Foundation, Inc. is to provide disadvantaged children in Liberia education, healthcare, nutrition, inspiration, and motivation while enabling them to live healthier, more independent lives. Individual empowerment and self-determination have always been strong components of the organization. Our mission is accomplished by addressing the critical issues of illiteracy, lack of available educational programming, and health care through programs and services that exercise high standards of ethics, coupled with best practices in management and accountability. We are dedicated to helping each person reach his or her individual potential by encouraging a belief in personal responsibility, instilling habits of hard work, and demonstrating a passionate commitment to excellence.
Our goal is to empower vulnerable children in Liberia by providing them with access to a high standard of education, health care, good nutrition and much-needed inspiration and motivation to improve the quality of their lives and ensure that they live happier, healthier lives and are able to realize their full potential.
We aim to:
- Provide children in Liberia with opportunity to learn and develop so they can grow up to support their families and become an integral and healthy part of their communities, and
- Provide children with educational materials and opportunities that equip them for school and the job market, and inspire them to become independent thinkers and future leaders.
In support of our main goal, the organization aspires to:
 Eradicate illiteracy in Liberia
 Enhance skill acquisition for youth and young adults throughout Liberia
 Allow for a more self-sufficient community in Liberia
 Improve the workforce of Liberia
 Stimulate self-motivation and self-discipline for personal and health excellence
 Build long-standing partnerships with other organizations in the community that share the same vision

We are currently working with Liberia-based partners Youth Aid Liberia, the Hyacinth Foundation Academy, and El Ansari Elementary toward the common goals of increasing awareness about illiteracy in Liberia, youth rights advocacy, and developing and supporting community empowerment projects, and continue to seek and develop new partnerships to strengthen our support group and influence.

To enhance the learning experience of the youth of Liberia, the Ri’ayah Foundation, Inc. plans to construct schools and libraries throughout the country. The libraries will offer additional opportunities for enhanced learning for all students, regardless of their income or educational background. We will provide donations of books and computers to the facilities so that individuals can expand their knowledge at their own pace and pursue their own interests.
 We have purchased land in Clay Ashland to build a school and an orphanage. When these are completed and operational, a health center will be built and opened.
Other specific strategies to achieve our goals include:
 Provide support, including housing, educational supplies, tuition and fees for students to attend school. We are currently working to eradicate illiteracy in Liberia one child at a time by providing resources and educational opportunities. We began by enrolling 15 children in school who had not been enrolled in school before. Our organization paid all tuition, and the fees for uniforms, books, and supplies. This year we have re-enrolled our original 15 students plus an additional 5 students into school. We will continue to enroll more students in school by taking note of children who are not attending school at the start of the school year. We will then meet with their parents to discuss the reasons they are not attending school and what our organization can do to assist these children. If the parents approve, our organization will get the child enrolled in school and pay for all other necessities.
 Obtain donations of books and school supplies for distribution in Liberian schools. We have already supplied over 500 books.
 Distribute medical supplies to hospitals and clinics in need. Continue to send supplies as new donations come in.

 Send medical and dental teams once a year to administer preventative medications and procedures, provide aid for treatable diseases, enroll pregnant women in health clinics to increase likelihood of successful full-term pregnancies and reduction of sudden death syndrome in newborns, etc.

 Teach best farming techniques and practices through hands-on learning by setting up a demonstration farm on our land in Clay Ashland. We hope to expand this program as local villagers see the results we are able to obtain and seek to learn how to improve their own plots.

 Distribute food annually during the holy month of Ramadan, expanding the distribution area each year to reach more communities.

 Teach Liberian youth skills that will enable them to become independent and self-supporting through a variety of training programs.
With our experienced advisors, invested staff, local Liberian partners, and increased funding, we will continue to develop new strategies to help us reach our overarching goal of improving the future of Liberian youth.

The Ri’ayah Foundation’s programs are overseen by a group of well-qualified individuals. Our Board of Directors is comprised of a professional group of talented individuals who are dedicated to committing their time and resources to empower the youth to build a stronger future for Liberia.
- Our primary advisor is Dr. George Samah, a C-level executive who holds a PhD in business Administration and Finance. A former program director at WHO, he has considerable financial, monitoring and evaluation experience and can help us prioritize our decisions and make the most effective choices.
- We have access to healthcare expertise in Madiaba Sheriff, who holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and has worked at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia since 2014. She is passionate about helping children in Liberia reach their full potential.
- Our founder, Hawa Sheriff, grew up in Liberia until forced to flee with the advent of the civil war. She knows the country and its needs well and still has family living there, giving her a strongly vested interest in rendering aid and support to Liberia.
Our diverse staff has strong ties to the local community, and thus possesses the unique ability to relate to our target demographic. Our personnel in Liberia give us the ability to recognize local needs as they arise and the capability to respond quickly to situations and needs:
- Bangalee Jabateh runs our school enrollment program and nurtures relationships with stakeholders in Liberia. He is currently studying Public Administration and Economics at the University of Liberia.
- Mohammed Donzo holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Communications and has over six years’ experience in community development and is part of our team in Liberia.
In addition, the Ri’ayah Foundation, Inc., currently has 10 volunteers who help us make things happen.
The combined knowledge and skills of our staff and volunteers give us the capability to accomplish many of the small steps needed to get closer to our goals.

• Founded organization and received 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in 2017.
• Uploaded website,, enabling us to share our vision, find sponsors for students, and request and accept donations of money and supplies to help us achieve our goals.
• Hold annual short-term fundraising campaigns during the holy month of Ramadan.
• Purchased 10 acres of land in Clay Ashland to demonstrate farming techniques and to build a school, orphanage and healthcare facility.
o Currently farm 6 of the 10 acres to teach best agricultural practices, good nutritional choices, and self-sufficiency.
o 6 permanent volunteers: much farmwork is done using the Kuu System, (community members work together to plant, weed and harvest crops).
o Teach people how to plant and raise consumable crops that will contribute to feeding their families (e.g., cassava, sweet potatoes).
o Raise livestock as a renewable food source for villagers. We currently have 20 chickens, 2 goats, and 2 sheep.
o Opened the Splendid Sewing School in Gardnersville, New Georgia. We currently have 10 students and 24 sewing machines (12 in use; 12 cannot be used until electricity is made available).
• Enabled students to attend school:
o 2018-2019: Enrolled/maintained support for fifteen students aged 6–15. Most had never attended school before, but all completed their first year successfully: none received less than a C average, and one even got a double promotion!
o 2019-2020: Re-enrolled original 15 students plus 5 more.
o 2020-2021: Enrolled 8 more students; we now support 28 in school.
• Distribute food annually during Ramadan. We initially distrubuted food only to students and families in our sponsorship program, but expanded the program each year. For the past 5 years, we have distributed staple foods (e.g., rice, beans, evaporated milk) in the Po River, Clay Ashland and Gardnersville communities.
• Distribute medical supplies to hospitals and clinics most in need.

What’s next for The Ri’ayah Foundation, Inc.?
Our scholarship and youth development programs are in the initial stages. Plans are in place for youth development programs that will teach skills enabling students to become independent and self-supporting; we have partnerships in Liberia ready to facilitate and implement these programs, but lack the required funding to take them to the next level. These programs will include classes in:
• Agriculture
• Computer literacy (we have computers but need electricity to begin the program)
• Carpentry
• Baking

We plan a medical mission for next year with a medical and dental team to provide check-ups and preventative treatment, treat curable ailments, and connect pregnant women with health centers in an effort to reduce sudden infant death syndrome and the high maternal mortality rate. A medical mission is planned for successive years to revisit former patients and treat new ones.

We have more planned for which funding is not yet available.


Riayah Foundation Inc

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.


Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

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

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.


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


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

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


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

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Riayah Foundation Inc

Board of directors
as of 04/06/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. George Samah

Kirsten Mears

Nvasekie Konneh

George Samah

Hawa Asmahan Sheriff

Solomon Bility

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/24/2021

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:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.