Lift the Lid on Poverty and Discover Limitless Potential

aka Lift the Lid, Inc.   |   Westport, CT   |

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GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 27-2974363


Lift the Lid raises money to improve the education of underfunded schools and publishes the students' personal essays and poems on our website. We share the students' work with our donors and provide them the opportunity to leave positive comments. Funds raised by Lift the Lid go toward constructing classrooms and facilities, supplying textbooks, paper and pens, lunches, uniforms, sports equipment, instruments, music lessons, and sanitary pads. We also set up scholarship funds to offset orphaned students' school fees. 100% of donations go toward our mission. We believe writing and self-expression build confidence, help children develop a sense of who they are, and give them hope for the future.

Notes from the nonprofit

Lift the Lid, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that funds projects to support and develop the schools we sponsor and the students who attend them. Our schools are often the only hope for children brimming with talent and the desire to learn, and we emphasize girls’ education in particular. In addition to our commitment to the schools, we believe encouraging the students to be creative instills confidence and hope. It also sends the message that we care. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to reveal the hidden talent in children and to show them a better future. Our two-fold mission, investing in our schools and the students by sharing their essays and poems, is a comprehensive, long-term approach to a happy and healthy life.

Ruling year info



Mrs. Sara J Goff

Main address

29 Ferry Ln E

Westport, CT 06880 USA

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Subject area info



Community and economic development

Human rights

Human services

Show more subject areas

Population served info

Children and youth


Women and girls

People of African descent

Economically disadvantaged people

NTEE code info

International Development, Relief Services (Q30)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Printing, Publishing (A33)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

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

Tax forms

Show Forms 990



What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

In the rural villages of Kenya, less than half of all children complete secondary school and the majority of the school drop-outs are girls. (70% of illiterate persons in Kenya are women.) Still, many girls are circumcised and married off before they reach the age of 13. Our Kenyan schools (Mogonjet, Lenana, and Namelok) have an urgent wish list: they can’t provide their students with transportation and without proper science and computer labs, the world feels out of reach. An estimated 70,000 children in Manila sleep on the streets. The commercial district Cubao is home to many prostituted street kids and children-at-risk who are in conflict with the law. Street families park carts in city alleys and their kids roam the busy streets playing, begging, and looking for work. The School in a Cart provides a safe place for the children to find love, nourishment, and school help. We are building a scholarship fund for their education after high school.

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?

Kitchen in a Cart

On December 5th, 2013, Lift the Lid sent $479.86 in donations to The School in a Cart in Cubao, the Philippines. In addition to new uniforms for the students, we were able to purchase a new stove, new sinks, and a ‘Kitchen in a Cart’ to accompany the School. To these street children, basics such as a clean place to wash up and a table to eat on are considered luxuries.

The Kitchen in a Cart program succeeds the Breakfast in a Cart fundraiser we initiated in 2012. Both programs serve the local street children on 20th Avenue in Cubao, Quezon City. The primary goal in these programs is to keep the children attending and performing their best in school.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

October 2014, Lift the Lid, a 501(c)(3) charity, ran a 10k in London's Regent's Park to raise money for a lunch program at Namelok Junior Academy in Kisamis, Kenya, feeding 88 primary-aged boys & girls. We believe a well-balanced lunch is critical to education.

The best way we can help the students of Namelok Junior Academy to learn, grow, and succeed in life is to give them a healthy lunch everyday. The best way we can help the school is to develop self-sustaining projects, such as agriculture. Our fundraise will also go towards planting vegetables, maize potatoes, and beans.

Here’s the cost breakdown: £1100 ($1800) to build a kitchen and £2000 ($3200) for 88 lunches for one school year, or 200 days, at £10 ($16) per day. Our goal: £3000 ($5000).

A plan has been drawn up between Namelok and Lift the Lid for building and stocking the kitchen, as well as for planting a garden. The kitchen is currently under construction. The lunch program with begin in January of 2015.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Provided 30 reusable menstrual cups to Lenana Girls High School in Kitale, Kenya.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

Starting November of 2016, Namelok Junior Academy in Kisamis, Kenya will receive 40 educational tablets, supplied by BRCK, a Kenyan-based technology company. BRCK will also set up Wi-Fi connectivity and provide initial training for teachers and students.

Population(s) Served

Darien Book Aid has shipped three large boxes of age-appropriate, culturally diverse books to our Kenyan schools.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

A little background on our Library Project: In 2013, Mogonjet Secondary School in Bomet County, Kenya received a local government grant of KES 900,000 ($8,700) to build a library that would serve the school and local community. The amount was enough to build a roof and beams, but not enough for the floor, walls, windows, shelves, desks, tables and chairs. More funding was promised, but to no avail, until at last the school was advised that they would not receive the balance to complete the project.

Mogonjet’s administration, teachers, and students were shocked to receive the bad news, as they had been anticipating a library for years. We are proposing to complete the construction of the library, including shelves, desks, tables and chairs. We are also working to stock the library through our partnership with Darien Book Aid Plan and from other book donations.

The Library Project – A Solution

Attendance at Mogonjet stands at 143 students, with close to a 50% gender distribution. There are no other nearby libraries of the type we are proposing at Mogonjet – that is, a library designed to serve both the school and the community. The closest library to the school is three miles away, but is privately run for the students and staff of another school. The estimated number of people who would benefit from the library is 3400.

Student academic performance will improve with access to information and with the boost to morale. Students, parents, siblings, and community members will have a quiet place to study, read, and meet for lectures. The library will create jobs and provide income to the school by offering lectures and training on technology, literacy, nutrition, sustainable farming, and child rearing. By increasing the level of education and decreasing unemployment, we believe a library could, over time, bring an end to the poverty in Bomet County.

Visit our website for more information:

Population(s) Served
People of African descent
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of schools established in rural communities

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, People of African descent, People of Asian descent, At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

Library Project - 2017

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Lift the Lid supports the long-term development of three schools in western Kenya, a children's center in Metro Manila, the Philippines, and an orphanage in Nkoaranga, Tanzania.

Number of competition entrants

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Ethnic and racial groups, At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

LTL holds yearly writing competitions at our schools. Open to 800+ students, finalists are then chosen, as noted here. *We paused due to COVID, but 2023 participants expect to meet pre-COVID numbers.

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.

Education: For every donation of $20 or more, a student writes a poem or personal essay for the donor. Donors are then encouraged to leave a positive comment for the student on our website. One of the first things Lift the Lid does for the schools we sponsor is bring them out of obscurity.

Support: Lift the Lid will continue its support until there are enough classrooms and desks, notebooks and pencils, textbooks, computers, lunches, uniforms, sports equipment and buses for the students. We are in for the long-haul.

Contact Persons: We are in regular communication with each school’s contact person. We will support each school as long as the appointed contact person remains at the school or an approved new contact person takes his/her place. We require a minimum year-long relationship with each contact person prior to sponsorship and sufficient references.

Grass-roots: We will not do the work or send people to do the work of the schools we sponsor. We only sponsor grass-roots organizations run by people within the community.

Operating Costs: We will fund, out-of-pocket, all technology to scan and email the students’ writing and to take photographs of the students and the schools’ progress. 100% of donations go to the schools we sponsor.

Onsite: We will make visits to each school, organize volunteers, and/or have local contacts onsite to monitor how donations are spent.

Fundamental ways Lift the Lid raises funds for the schools we sponsor and educates the students, communities, and greater world on the importance of writing and self-expression are:

• Encouraging creative and personal writing and hosting Lift the Lid’s Annual Writing & Poetry Competitions at Mogonjet Secondary School, Lenana Girls' High School, Namelok Junior Academy in Kenya; Happy Family Children's Village in Tanzania; and The School in a Cart in the Philippines

•Publishing the students' writings, recognizing their work, and providing positive feedback

• Holding fundraising events for the schools we sponsor

• Registering/partnering with other nonprofit organizations: Common Ground for Africa, Grace Foundation International, Mooncups Ltd, Darien Book Aid, Osiligi Charity Projects, and The Small Things

• Using social media to promote and raise funds for Lift the Lid

Sara Goff, the Founder of Lift the Lid, has over 20 years experience writing, participating in writing workshops, leading writing workshops, and speaking on writing to students from grade school level to college. She is passionate about the power of the written word, and she believes wholeheartedly in the students Lift the Lid supports.

Lift the Lid has established a loyal Board of Directors comprised of successful, like-minded individuals with diverse skill-sets. We are always looking for new ways to raise money and awareness for the schools Lift the Lid sponsors and to further encourage the students to explore their writing voice.

Lift the Lid is highly selective in choosing the schools it will support to ensure absolute trust and shared values in education. Our primary criteria is that one of the Board Members has a personal relationship with the school. If the relationship is new, we take at least a year to get to know the school and our contact there. Either we travel to the school, we know someone personally connected to the school on a daily basis, or we ask a partner or volunteer to visit the school on our behalf.

Sara is progressing projects, publishing essays and in touch with the schools on a daily basis. One hundred percent of all funds raised go the schools Lift the Lid supports (with no salaries or compensation drawn and all fees and operational costs paid out of pocket.) We send funds on a project by project basis.

Our progress is best experienced on our website, where you can read our students' essays and poems:

Results and Testimonies:

Featured Students:

Donations and Finances :

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


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

Letter of Determination is not available for this organization
Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization


Mrs. Sara J Goff

Author Sara Goff spent seven years as a New York City fashion designer and merchandiser before leaving her career to make a difference in the world. She founded the global educational charity Lift the Lid, Inc. in 2010, which supports underprivileged schools long-term and encourages students to exercise their creative expression through writing. Sara attended Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received two fellowships to Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia and Nairobi, Kenya. While living in Manhattan, she especially loved her work as a writing instructor for Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen Writers Workshop, founded by author Ian Frazier, and for The National Arts Club’s creative writing program for students. She has spoken on such topics as volunteer work and finding purpose in life, and the writing process and the power of the written word. She is also the founder of Bridging Minds Collective. All proceeds from her novel "I Always Cry at Weddings" go toward Lift the Lid.


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 10/16/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board co-chair

Mrs. Sara Goff

Lift the Lid, Inc.

Term: 2010 -

Board co-chair

Mr. Jonas Nilsson

Cinven Limited

Term: 2010 -

Michiel Kotting

Accel Partners

Caroline Coleman


Cherry Provost


Dario Avram

Kirkland Ellis

Anna Linderum

Paulson & Co

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? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 8/17/2021

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
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation