Welcome to Palms for Life

Only by joining palms can we improve the lives of men, women, and children around the world. It is their right. It is our responsibility. Join me in my life’s mission of working to restore the basic rights of people living in poverty.
— Hannah Laufer-Rottman, Founder
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Palms for Life Fund’s mission is to advocate for and support the creation of infrastructure that provides access to education, food, water and sanitation for vulnerable communities throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia. We operate from a basic human rights perspective – because access to safe and sustainable food, water, sanitation and education is a right not just a humanitarian issue.

An important part of Palms for Life’s mission is also to raise awareness about hunger and poverty in the United States. In 2009, Palms for Life produced the Faces of Hunger in America film contest in which young filmmakers all across the country revealed the nature of hunger in their communities.

“Palms for Life’s mission is to bring the needs of the poor and hungry onto everyone’s radar screen because it’s everyone’s business if any child in this world goes to bed on a hungry stomach. We can make sure that no girl misses school when she has her period because of inadequate sanitation. We can bring water to schools so kids can drink during the day and wash their hands with soap and water. Together we have the power to give voice to the children about these issues.” – Palms for Life’s Founder, Hannah Laufer-Rottman


Palms for Life Fund (PFL) is a New York City-based nonprofit with an extensive track record of ongoing international projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia that promote access to education, food, water and sanitation (WASH).

Since its inception in 2006, Palms for Life has impacted the lives of thousands of people around the world. Today, Palms for Life is a thriving nonprofit with multi-million dollar grant-programs operating across the world.

Palms for Life was founded in 2006 by Hannah Laufer-Rottman who has spent her entire career helping poor people improve their livelihoods.

Palms for Life’s headquarters are based in New York City and in 2010 a satellite office in Swaziland was also established to manage a 3 year, $1.9 million dollar USAID-funded project impacting 40,000 school children in 120 schools across the country.



Palms for Life brings to the table more than 35 years of expertise in:

  • Establishing reliable local partnerships

  • Designing program interventions that are effective forces for change

  • Developing implementation strategies

  • Establishing Monitoring and Evaluation systems

  • Providing financial management, oversight and support

  • Mobilizing support for the most vulnerable in our global community.

Our Projects’ Selection Criteria:

All projects supported by Palms for Life must address the following:

  • Participatory (inclusive)

  • Empowering (creates jobs)

  • Responsive to actual needs (proper baseline research & local engagement)

  • Cost-Efficient (easily maintained locally)

  • Replicable (potential to scale)

  • Environmentally Conscious (utilizes local resources & improves natural environment)

  • Gender Sensitive (systematically considering the needs of women and girls in program architecture to ensure implementation)

Our Impact

  • We build sustainable local capacity.

  • We ensure that our projects generate changes of attitudes and behaviors and long lasting results.

  • We raise awareness and understanding about hunger and poverty from a human rights perspective.

Giving to Palms for Life: a smart investment

  • Cost-efficient: ensuring minimum 90% of project costs are spent on the ground

  • Innovative: designs project models that are sustainable, replicable and responsive to local realities

  • Generates diversified impact: small and large scale change, from the individual to the community

  • Experienced and trusted: US-based NGO that oversees local partner activities

  • Boutique management structure: led by dynamic leadership and expertise of Hannah Laufer-Rottman



Let’s Join Palms

“I founded Palms for Life Fund because I have seen poverty throughout the world. I know what it means for poor people to live a life with no hope for the future, and I know with complete certainty that we can make a difference by joining hands and working together. I have seen first hand, from my own life experiences, that the cycle of poverty can be broken. It takes knowledge and participation at the local level, a strong commitment, and a vision that takes in all the factors that create poverty.”
— Hannah Laufer-Rottman, Founder


Hannah Laufer-Rottman held senior positions at the United Nations World Food Programme and founded Palms for Life Fund, a US-based 501(c)(3) in 2006. During her 30 year career with the UN, she saw the devastating effects of hunger, lack of clean water and facilities, and poverty in general. She lived and worked in disadvantaged communities in West-Africa and Latin America. When she left the UN Ms. Laufer-Rottman committed herself to continue the fight to end hunger and poverty, focusing primarily on the countries where she had first-hand experience.

Her vision for Palms for Life is that of an organization that fights for basic human rights, beyond charity or hand-outs, by fostering active participation and ownership by local populations, ensuring sustainable results.

Each local organization carrying out projects funded by Palms for Life is carefully chosen following the Founder’s strict guiding principles. These local implementing partners provide needed services in select communities that lack education, food, water and sanitation.


About Hannah

My Unconditional Support of Human Rights

I have always been an unconditional supporter of human rights and tolerance. Because of this passion, I worked for the UN World Food Programme for 30 years. When I retired from the UN in 2006, I took with me my never-ending commitment to ending poverty.

I have seen poverty throughout the world. I know what it means for poor people to live a life with no hope for the future, and I know with complete certainty that we can make a difference by joining hands and working together. The cycle of poverty can be broken; it takes vision, knowledge, persistence, understanding, commitment, and participation at the local level.

It’s Not About Charitable Handouts, It’s About Doing What’s Right

At Palms for Life Fund, we believe that access to food, clean water, sanitation, and education are basic human rights, and should not be dependent on charitable giving or handouts. Our efforts aren’t about feeling or being good. We believe that poverty eradication is everyone’s business; it has to happen now and for all; and has to be done right. I believe that everyone in this world has a basic human right to a good quality of life and it starts with access to the things you need for that to be possible. That’s my “religion!”

The Image of Palms for Life

The image of hands reaching out to each other is an act of unity, solidarity, and equality –it is not a top-down mentality. The image of palms represents my mission, my hope for a global alliance to fight poverty.

Active Participation by Local Populations

I have brought a rights-based approach, aided by objective analyses of problems, to bring creative and effective long-term solutions to the inequalities I see around the world. Palms for Life Fund’s projects don’t serve “beneficiaries;” we work with participants.

Hannah Laufer-Rottman | HuffPost

An international professional with extensive experience in successfully delivering poverty alleviation programs to countries and people in need. Joined the United Nations in 1976 and worked mainly with the World Food Programme. Has traveled extensively and lived in Africa and in Latin America with long term assignments in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Brazil.

Our projects foster engagement and ownership by local populations, which help ensure sustainable results and accountability. By investing them with responsibility in the project, Palms for Life Fund gives participants back ownership of their own lives, allowing them to be informed, empowered, and hopeful. I believe educating populations in this two-way exchange is the way to change the face of poverty worldwide.

Why Palms for Life

While I was at the World Food Programme, I brought all of these ideas to my work, informing my project design and community organization with my “religion”. Through Palms for Life Fund, I have developed a more intimate relationship to my work. I empower myself and I empower the people I work with.


Job Creation

Let’s Join Palms