Firetree Trust is made by two philanthropic purpose trusts (Firetree and Starfish Education), established under the Laws of Singapore and endowed by Richard Paul “Dick” Haugland - a philanthropist, scientist and entrepreneur. 


Our two trusts are managed by a single corporate trustee led by Francesco Caruso, Dick’s long-time friend and colleague. You can read more about our structure here.


In everything we do, we carry on Dick’s legacy and expand on the main philanthropic priorities he developed over the years together with Francesco. You can read more about our legacy here


The underlying theme of all our work that it is never about ourselves. For this reason we do not want to exist in perpetuity but rather to ensure that our assets (financial of course, but also any and all knowledge we have developed over the years) can be best put at the service of changemakers to help building long-term solutions to critical social challenges faced by Asian communities.


All the work of the Trust and its Initiatives (including our asset management side) are based on a firm set of values which is best represented by the key leaders that run each program and by their teams.



Firetree Trust operates by the following set of values, which are essential both within the team as well as changemakers that are supported by the Firetree Trust’s philanthropic initiatives.


Empathy: Is our  most fundamental value. Everything we design, implement and support is built on it. 


Every person who works for initiatives part of Firetree Trust has previous experience in starting, growing or managing a social purpose organization and is expected to show a great deal of empathy toward changemakers and members of the communities with which we interact. Likewise, every initiative we implement or support must be centered around empathy.

Humility: nothing we do is about ourselves but rather about our partners and communities. We never seek external recognition and have no desire to be(come) a recognized “brand.

Respect: for our colleagues, partners and every single member of the communities in which we are involved is fundamental.


Trust: in our team members is at the centre of the management philosophy of Firetree Trust and all associated entities. Similarly, Trust is the essential element for all our partnerships.

Accountability We are collectively responsible to ensure the assets left by Dick are invested in the most effective way as possible to solve for the problems faced by the communities in which our initiatives and partners operate. 


Our ultimate accountability goes to the children, educators and parents in Thailand for the work implemented by Starfish Education and to all the individuals living in the communities served by the initiatives and programs supported by Firetree Philanthropy.

Francesco, as Dick's successor, is the Trusts’ protector, and he is ultimately responsible to ensure the Trusts’ values and vision are shared by every member of the team as well as embedded in every initiative we develop.


Francesco is also ultimately accountable for the legal compliance and effective governance of all the organizations associated with Firetree Trust and plays a direct role in our assets management, co-leading the development of a value-aligned fund, the New Spirit Capital Fund that will launch in mid 2021.


Richard P. Haugland ("Dick") was an incredibly generous man who supported hundreds of thousands of people through various projects and organizations in Nepal, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, India and Thailand. With his company, Molecular Probes (founded with his wife, Rosaria) he invented some of the most effective fluorescent dyes used in laboratories around the world (the Alexa Fluor dyes remain a best seller).  When he sold the company in 2003 he transferred a very significant sum into his foundation, the Richard P. Haugland Foundation, and kept adding assets to it until his death in October 2016.

Those who knew Dick agree that he was a kind, naive genius. No matter what language, cultural and religious difference there might be, he connected with children.  He loved teaching and developing curricula and he was brilliant at that. 

Over the years he traveled with Francesco from Bangladesh to the Philippines, from rural Myanmar to India and Nepal, from remote areas of Vietnam and Laos and every corner of Cambodia and Thailand.


Starfish Country Home School Foundation, in Northern Thailand was his home from 2004 until his passing in October 2016.

At Starfish, Dick was actively involved with curriculum development and children’s enrichment activities to ensure that the children get the best quality education from the programs. His unique multi-media teaching methods and materials in math, English ("Thaiglish") and Thai languages have made a tremendous impact on preschool and primary school children.