Our Story

A long history of global partnerships.

Global Partners was established in 1978 as a membership organization called World Runners International Foundation. Its main objective was to focus attention on and generate support for ending hunger and starvation in the world. In 1993, World Runners became Global Partners and began to work directly with East African community leaders in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda to identify and implement projects in the areas of health, education, and water. 40 years later, we are more committed than ever to practicing community-driven development.

Our History

Timeline of Global Partners


Founding of World Runners

The purpose of World Runners International Foundation was to dispel myths and raise awareness and funds to end hunger “step by step” through the sport of running. Over fifteen years, World Runners raised $6.5 million for organizations working to end hunger and poverty. Its success was built on a network of personal relationships, established by members from every state in the U.S. and over 50 countries.


The Marathon Era

Over the course of a decade, thousands of runners and their supporters around the world (18,000 runners in 13 countries at its peak) enrolled in the movement and raised over $7M. Highlights include the Moscow International Peace Marathons; Save the Children Relays; Boston, Oakland, and New York marathons; and hundreds of other large and small events.


Winning a Transcontinetal Relay

Carrying the message of “End World Hunger”, World Runners successfully completed a non-stop, 22-day running relay from Santa Rosa, via San Francisco, to the United Nations in New York City — arriving on the exact day and time predicted. States and cities gave proclamations of support, local runners joined all across the country, and funds were raised. The relay garnered significant media attention, resulting in a million people hearing the World Runners message.


Beginning of Direct Project Work in Africa

After seeing firsthand the immense challenges faced by communities in East Africa, a group of World Runners’ most devoted members were inspired to partner directly with local people. The first project was the “Child Feeding Program of Crescent Medical Aid Kenya,” which provided nutrition to impoverished children.


Educational Travel

Global Partners has offered educational trips, originally called “Africa Friendship Tours” to visit projects and partners since 1989. These unique trips combine in-depth visits to projects funded by Global Partners, opportunities to get to know our African development partners and local communities, and some of the best African wildlife viewing possible.


Global Partners for Development Established

Since becoming Global Partners, the organization has focused on community-driven development. Global Partners envisions a world where even disenfranchised communities have the capacity to build sustainable solutions to the problems they face.


A Period of Significant Growth

From our official inception up until the 2008 economic crisis, the organization experienced annual growth of 10-20%. This growth accelerated Global Partners’ ability to implement a wide range of projects including a mill for Maasai women in Arkaria, Tanzania; a maternity ward and satellite clinics for Matata Hospital in Kenya; livestock, husbandry training, and group savings programs in partnership with women in western Uganda; and numerous clean water and school infrastructure projects across East Africa.


Girls Scholarship Program Launched

Global Partners recognizes that educating a girl results in benefits that extend far beyond the classroom. Educated girls have fewer babies, are less likely to contract HIV/AIDS, earn higher wages, and are more likely to educate their own children. Global Partners has enabled over 1,000 girls and young women to attend school.


Creation of the Vineyards to Villages (V2V) Initiative

Through this program, the Sonoma County wine industry supports clean water infrastructure, sanitation facilities, hygiene education, and community water kiosks at primary and secondary schools in western Kenya that previously had no clean water source. To date, V2V projects have benefited 25,000 children and their families.


Modern Era

Forty years later, Global Partners has impacted over 3 million East Africans, and the organization remains committed to impactful, sustainable, locally-led initiatives. Since 2014, 150,000 people have directly benefited from Global Partners’ projects. 34,322 people have been directly served by our water systems, and 44,991 people have benefited from education infrastructure projects.

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