Firetree Trust is made by two charitable trusts (Firetree and Starfish Education), both 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 charitable 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.
The work of the Trust and all its Initiatives is based on a firm set of values, the same we look for in all members of our teams and external partners.
VALUES & ACCOUNTABILITY
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 the Trusts’ protector, 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. He is also ultimately accountable for the legal compliance and effective governance of all the organizations associated with Firetree Trust.
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, with Francesco, he traveled from Bangladesh to the Philippines, from Northern Vietnam to India and Nepal, from rural Myanmar to 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.