The Grandmother Movement - North America

Start an activist grandmother group---or join, support or network with an existing group! If you know of additional groups that should be listed, please contact us via email! (Projects highlighted in yellow are featured in the book Grandmother Power.)


Grandmothers Advocacy Network is a Canadian NGO that encourages the national government to support the rights of people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. The organization advocates for pensions, benefits, women’s equality, education rights, property rights and access to treatment and medicines. The Network has a consultative relationship with the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. Learn more

Grannies a Gogo The Vernon-South Africa Connection. This independent group of grandmothers in British Columbia establishes personal connections with African grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDS. Their letter writing partnerships and monthly reports about the African grandmothers’ use of their financial aid keep the connections strong. The group has volunteer administrators in Sabie, South Africa. Learn More 

Ilisaqaiuvik Family Resource Centre in Clyde River, Nunavut (the newest, northern- most Canadian territory) works with grandmothers who serve as mentors, positive role models, and teach the Inuktitut language, traditions and skills. The President is Regilee Piangnituk; English-speaking coordinator is Jake Gerhardt. For more information, contact Bev Illauq ( More

Raging Grannies protest against politics and policies that they believe will make the world worse for their grandchildren. There are Raging Granny gaggles all over Canada, where the organization was founded, as well as the US, UK, Israel, Greece, Japan and Australia. Their International website has a starter kit if you’d like to start your own gaggle.

The Stephen Lewis Foundation coordinates solidarity and support for African grandmothers raising grandchildren orphaned by AIDS. The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign includes 240 grandmother groups in Canada, one in the UK and one in the U.S. You can learn more about them in Grandmother Power’s chapters on Canada, South Africa and Swaziland. If you’d like to start a Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers group, the Foundation will give you a starter kit and lots of help.

Wakefield Grannies. Since 2004, this granny group has supported grandmothers raising AIDS orphans in Alexandra Township (“Alex”) near Johannesburg, South Africa---and more recently, also a group in rural Natal (near Durban). In addition to financial help, each granny corresponds with a personal granny pen pal. Learn more


Adopt A Grandchild. Adult apartment dwellers across the US have organized to help care for children in their buildings one day a week, take them to ballgames, to the park, help with homework, read stories. If you don’t have a grandchild nearby, join and enjoy the fun!

Adopt-a-Grandmother. Sponsored by the Ark Foundation of Africa in Washington DC, this program coordinates gifts from individuals or groups and provides guaranteed monthly financial assistance to grandmothers of orphans and vulnerable children in African countries who may need housing, counseling, and/or academic support for school aged children.

Ambuya Project. Ambuya means “grandmother” and this project of the Zambia Children’s Fund provides ongoing support to the grandmothers who care for AIDS orphans (i.e., more than a third of all Zambian children). Their Chishawasha Children’s Home in Lusaka (an orphanage and primary school for children whose grandmothers can no longer care for them) hires grandmothers as teachers and housekeepers. Founded in 2001 by Kathe Padilla, of Tucson, Arizona, the Zambian Children’s Fund has 501c-3 status in the US.

Cape Cod Grandmothers Against Gun Violence. Organized in response to the Sandy Hook violence in Newtown, Connecticut, this grassroots Massachusetts group focuses on background checks for gun purchases and registering guns that are transported across state lines. They are looking into forming chapters in other states. More

* Conscious Grandmothering Workshops and Councils. Columbia-University educated nurse-midwife and grandmother Yeshi Neumann offers one-day workshops, workshops for groups, and a 6-week online workshop---all to enrich understanding of grandmothering (“We use it as a verb because it’s active!”). She brings spiritual, psychological, practical and anthropological wisdom to issues of long-distance grandmothering, intergenerational communications, and responsibilities in the family and the world. Many workshop graduates start Conscious Grandmothering Councils. You can, too: just request a free kit!

Fifty Lanterns. Named for the 50 Afghan widows who received the organization’s first solar lanterns, this nonprofit in Minnesota runs the Grandmother’s AIDS Orphan Project in collaboration with the Nyaka AIDS Orphans project in Uganda. Fifty Lanterns’ goal for 2012 is to provide 550 solar lanterns to Nyaka grandmothers.

* Global Grandmothers pledge to give to children in need every time they make a gift to their own grandchildren. The organization researches, vets and recommends nonprofits that make effective contributions to children’s lives around the world. They can also help you teach your grandchildren about generosity and philanthropy.

Gogo Grandmothers. Founded by a grandmother, this Christian group based in Southern California, is a ministry of Safe-Africa. The organization works with low-income grandmother groups in rural Malawi. Since the grandmothers are raising AIDS orphans, the long-term goal is to develop community-based childcare centers. A $30/month donation provides a village grandmother with a blanket and mosquito net, plus a school uniform, shoes, a sweater and books for each of her school-aged grandchildren.

Golden Grannies. This dance team of energetic grandmothers performs at selected Phoenix Sun NBA basketball games; auditions are usually held in October. They’re not activists, but they’re definitely active!

Grandmothers Against Gun Violence. Founded in Seattle in the wake of the Sandy Hook violence in Newtown, Connecticut, this grassroots nonprofit is building a national organization to reduce gun violence and remedy the complex societal factors that contribute to a culture of gun violence. More

Grandmothers Against The War New York City. Its members conduct a weekly vigil between 2004 and 2012 at Rockefeller Center to end the US military presence in Iraq. Its members are committed to persuading President Obama to leave Afghanistan before 2014.

Grandmothers Against The War Berkeley, CA - This group was launched in 2005 and has 300 members in the San Francisco Bay Area who take nonviolent actions to inspire a greater, more articulate anti-war movement with particular focus on Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran.

Grandparents As Parents. Founded in 1987 by clinical social worker Sylvie de Toledo, this nonprofit provides cost-free community-based programs and support services for grands who are raising children in the Los Angeles County Area. More

Grandmothers and Granddaughters. This group convenes as part of a Road Scholar program: a 5-night summer camp at Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Mountains in New York state. Grandmothers and granddaughters (ages 6-12) share a room. Activities include music, crafts, outdoor activities and traditions that have been passed from generation to generation. Learn more

Grandmothers Beyond Borders, founded and based in Wisconsin, raises funds for grandmothers and grandchildren in Uganda who are struggling with AIDS.  Learn more

Grandmother Drum Peace Project. Suraj Holzwarth, White Eagle Medicine Woman, is an international performance artist, founder/director of the Whirling Rainbow Foundation in Palmer Alaska, and keeper of largest crystal inlaid medicine drum in the world (it’s seven feet in diameter). Her “Ring of Fire” world tour schedule is on her website.

Grandmothers For Peace International. An all-volunteer nonprofit organization founded in 1982 in Northern California, now has members and supporters around the globe. Its work includes marching, protesting, speaking and advocating against global militarization and nuclear testing, weapons and power plants, as well as radioactive waste. Learn more

Grandmothers for Race and Class Equality (GRACE) is a Seattle-based group of women committed to helping grandmothers, women and children in Africa. They can help you set up a sister group in your area.  MORE

* Grandmothers Going Global. Daphne Muse (grandmother, author, professor and former director of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Mills College) launched this NGO. It’s a network of grandmothers who want to enrich the social capital, fiscal capacities and overall power of the “Tribe of the Third Chapter” through exchanges, mentorship and retreats, plus cultural, academic and leadership opportunities.

Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren. In the US more than 1.6 million grandmothers raise their children’s children. If you are one of those stalwart, generous grandmothers, AARP can help you find an online, telephone, or local support group in your area. Learn more

Grandmothers Speak. Psychotherapist Sharon McErlane, Laguna Beach, California, experienced a vision of a grandmother’s council, which became the focus of her book, A Call to Power. By 2012, her work had inspired the formation of 150 spiritual grandmother groups all over the world. Her website, translated into six languages, contains suggestions for starting a group and posts local meeting dates.

Grandmothers without Borders, founded in 2006 by a Wisconsin woman, helps 300 grandmothers in grassroots groups in Uganda, all taking care of grandchildren who are orphaned by AIDS.

Grandparents As Parents, serves Los Angeles' grandparents raising children. About 80% of their families are headed by grandmothers. Programs and services include counseling, education, workshops, emergency referrals for food, clothing and shelter, and more. 

Grandparents Family Apartments, 951 Prospect Avenue, Bronx, New York 10459 was the first project built in the United States that was built from the ground up for grandparents—mostly grandmothers—raising grandchildren.

Granny Basketball teams in Missouri, Minnesota and Louisiana compete wearing middy blouses and bloomers, using team names such as “Shooting Stars” and “Passing Fancies.” They play for exercise, glory, to have another crack at The State Tournament, and for charity (they donate their time, talent and fees to selected charities and nonprofits). Learn more

Granny Peace Brigade formed by 18 members of Grandmothers Against War/New York City after they tried to enlist in the military (“take us instead.”) They can help you get informed (understand how war impacts your neighborhood), get vocal (talk to your neighbors), get busy (find a social action group) and get involved.

Granny Voters. In 2004, a survey of 568 US grandparent voters showed that 73% based their votes on the interests of their grandchildren as well as themselves. Eleven women launched this organization (including Pat Schroeder, Geraldine Ferraro, Ellen Goodman, Letty Cottin Pogrebin and Mary Catherine Bateson). The nonpartisan group exists to inform, inspire and engage grandmothers in the election process. Recently, it merged with Seniors4Kids, which supports policies that benefit children and future generations.

Grupa Allegria is a 22-member charitable and social club in Southwest Broward County, Florida. It was founded in 1992 and its name translates to The Happiness Group. Members are Hispanic senior citizens (mostly from Colombia) who raise money for the poorest schools in the city of Medellin Colombia, and in the farming village, Armenia Colombia. They also sent relief to Katrina victims in New Orleans, and earthquake victims in Haiti. Telephone: 1-954-394-5830.

HelpAge is the only global network focused on the needs and rights of vulnerable older people around the world. It won the Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2012 for its work in 65 countries, and is addressing violence against older women, protecting older women in emergencies and disasters, helping older women combat gender discrimination, and addressing ways climate change affects older women in rural areas. You can help.

International Council of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers hosts public gatherings around the world, holding prayers, healings and ceremonies with the first nation people of each region. The grandmothers, who first convened in 2004, represent diverse cultures and all four directions: North, South and Central America; Asia and Africa. They work together “for the good of all beings.” Their global events calendar is on a their website.

Living Earth Circle’s Grandmother Council, which Lisa Pavati started in 2004 in Oregon, was inspired by the Grandmother Speaks Walk (women elders walked from town to town on the U.S. East Coast, invited women elders from the communities to speak and local people to support them in silence). Women elders are nominated throughout the year to be honored at an annual Grandmother Council Community Conference. Living Earth Circle’s “performance art ceremonies” include instrumentation, song and dance.

Mother Earth Water Walk. Two Anishinawbe grandmothers lead walks around the perimeter of the Great Lakes to increase public awareness of water issues. So far they have circumnavigated: Lake Superior (2003) Michigan (2004), Huron (2005), Ontario (2006, Erie (2007), Michigan (2008), St. Lawrence River (2009) and Lake Nipigon (2012).

Nyanya Project. Mary Martin Niepold first travelled from North Carolina to Kenya in 2007 to volunteer in AIDS orphanages. Worried about the orphans’ grandmothers, she founded a 501c3 that now helps them to form working cooperatives that generate the income necessary to provide healthcare, education and a home for their grandchildren. The Project works in Kenya and Tanzania.

Ohio Purple Peddlers. A precision team of tricycle-riding grandmothers that has performed in 21 states (even the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in 2009), this group is ten years old and belongs to the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. Their husbands are their pit crew. “Keeps you in pretty good shape,” one member said.

Pacifica Indigenous Grandmothers Council of Maui. These grandmothers share ancient wisdom and preserve the cultural heritage of the Pacific Island nations. In alternate months, they clean Kukuipuka Heiau (a temple site at Kahakuloa village on the North side of West Maui) and meet afterwards “at noon or so.” Volunteers can help in their community garden; organize online auctions and more.

Raging Grannies protest against politics and policies that they believe will make the world a worse place for their grandchildren. There are Raging Granny gaggles all over the US and Canada, UK, Israel, Greece, Japan and Australia. Their International website has a map of their US locations plus a starter kit if you’d like to start your own. The San Francisco Bay Area Raging Grannies Action League is featured in Grandmother Power.

Tree of Life Adoption Center, an international adoption agency headquartered in Portland Oregon operates The Grandmother Program to improve the well- being of children living in orphanages throughout Bulgaria. They arrange for local women (“grandmothers of the heart”) to spend four hours everyday, one-on-one, with a child, providing special attention, love and support.

Volunteering. Many organizations benefit from the experience of older adults. For example,

  1. AARP’s Experience Corps puts 2,000 volunteers to work mentoring children in disadvantaged schools in 19 cities nationwide.
  2. Members of The White House Senior Corps includes a program called Foster Grandparents: you can be a role model, mentor and friend to children at one of thousands of local organizations (Head Start, faith-based groups, youth facilities) by doing one-on-one tutoring and mentoring.
  3. Community Earth Councils are groups of people 50+ and youth (16-28) working together to address local environmental challenges.

VT Dance in Baltimore Maryland (named for Vincent E. Thomas) includes The Grandmother Project, which investigates the essence, role and commonalities of grandmothers in the US, South Africa, India, Jamaica and China/Taiwan through movement, spoken text, poetry, music, video and projected images. The Grandmother Project produces performances by multi-media artists.

Wisdom of the Grandmothers Foundation. The Foundation is a nonprofit spiritual and educational organization dedicated to sharing and preserving the wisdom of tribal elders. It has hosted global gatherings in countries around the world for the past 25 years. Clairvoyant artist Nan Morton, who lives in Texas, founded it.

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