our history

Raise the Roof Academy’s education initiative traces its history back to February 1985 when at age 6, David Ssebulime, founder of RTRA, was sent away from school for failure to pay tuition fees. Months earlier, David’s father had died, leaving the responsibility of caring for 11 children with David’s mother. David’s father was the sole income earner. Without the ability to pay, David, and his siblings, were turned away from school. At age 6, David started working menial jobs as a way to earn tuition fees. David worked in a brick factory which was where the African Children’s Choir found him and took him and his sister, Sarah, into their orphanage. Unfortunately, David’s other siblings did not have the same opportunity. This reality shapes our commitment to building a village school for orphaned and vulnerable children.

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What started as a simple campaign to complete a church building in a small Ugandan village of Lusaka, has become a life-changing partnership for the people of rural Uganda and friends of Raise the Roof Academy.

In November 2005, we launched our first campaign dubbed “Raise the Roof” and after 7 months of hosting various fundraisers, and offering many prayers, we embarked on a journey to the Ugandan village of Lusaka to present the funds for the first roof.  On this journey, our eyes were opened to a mission of forging relationships that foster stability, hope, and transformation, and we have never looked back.  

In August 2008, we visited the village of Bwasandeku. Known to be an area rife with HIV/AIDS and Alcoholism, and deemed “Home of Alcoholism” by regional leaders, Bwasandeku was a village that needed intervention. Children were not going to school, people were still dying from HIV/AIDS, children were under the care of elderly grandparents, and the majority of the men had resigned to alcohol.

We knew we met these people for a reason, and we knew we had to do something. The school doors opened in the beginning of 2011 with 30 children in a wood-shed structure. We introduced friends and family to the children and asked that they become their champions, their sponsors. As soon as the first 30 children were sponsored, we added 30 more children to the program, then 60 children. We now have over 1,200 children in our program and we are constantly building new classrooms to accommodate children who are not yet attending school.



our timeline

  • 2005 – Raise the Roof began as a project to raise support to build a roof for a church that also served as a school in Lusaka, Uganda.

  • 2006 – First Raise the Roof mission trip to Uganda.

  • 2007 – Raise the Roof became an official 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

  • 2008 – Met the people of Bwasandeku, Uganda and committed to partnering with them to build a school.

  • 2010 – Temporary classrooms were built in Bwasandeku, Uganda to begin Raise the Roof Academy with 30 children.

  • 2011 – The school doors opened, and the Child Sponsorship Program was rolled out to partner the students with sponsors.

  • 2012 – Fresh water well was installed at Raise the Roof Academy.

  • 2013 – First permanent 5-classroom block was built.

  • 2014 – Electricity was installed at Raise the Roof Academy.

  • 2015 – 600 children are now a part of our program!

  • 2016 – Playground was installed at Raise the Roof Academy. Perimeter wall and retaining wall were built. Classroom construction continues.

  • 2017 – Over 750 children are now a part of our program! The kitchen and pavilion are under construction.

  • 2018 – 1,200 students are in our Primary School Program, and 27 students are in our Secondary School Program! 

  • 2019 – Construction for the first Forever Family Home is completed. This first on-campus boarding facility will house 35 female students.