Developed at the onset of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, our innovative digital program, known as Eric’s Circle of Light (ECOL), honors our dear friend, Eric Spencer Richenstein (1982-2020), who we tragically lost too soon. By providing access to education and opportunity to young people most in need, values Eric firmly believed in, we honor his spirit and his memory. Eric loved his family, friends, his Golden Retriever Luna, the great outdoors, and he was a friend to wildlife and children everywhere. He is with us always.

When schools were shut, we consulted with specialists in the fields of science, math, art therapy and special education to develop online photography lessons and activities that support creativity and emotional well-being for our students, who were inordinately impacted. The curricula includes theoretical and practical photography instruction, along with valuable life skills sessions. 

Too, we have created an all-new Storytelling curriculum, led by Gaireyah Fredericks, an award-winning author, poet and playwright in Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa. Gaireyah teaches our students how to write with lead, ink or light. 

Since its inception, Eric’s Circle of Light has provided nearly 5000 hours of instruction to more than 120 students. The program has been so successful that we have new students from partner programs across the United States, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda joining us each week. And this fall we are expanding to Tel Aviv, Israel.

Portraits from our ECOL program in Kibagare, Kenya. Photos by (L-R) Esther, Haron, and Peter.

These classes have provided educational opportunities that otherwise may not have been available during this challenging time.  Students are learning vital digital literacy and social-emotional skills that will enable them to positively impact their communities now and for years to come. 

We are grateful to the Richenstein family, our partners and our supporters for helping us develop this new offering to keep our students engaged and on track. We are also thankful to our amazing students for their quick adaptation to the digital format and willingness to learn in new ways.

We are pleased with the progress we have made and know that there is still much more work to be done and more children to reach. 

We think he would be pleased, too.

Eric’s light is shining brightly, guiding our students to a future in focus.

Power up the light with a donation to ECOL.

Text ERIC39 to 44-321 or click: