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Gratia International was established as a non-profit organization in June 2007, building on the extraordinary 12 year track record of our predecessor organization in Nigeria, the Voice of the Poor Foundation.

Our history as an organization first brought us to Africa, specifically Nigeria. The Nigeria program is headed by our main partner, Voice of the Poor Foundation, Nigeria, founded by the Very Rev. Msgr. John Bosco Akam in 1995 to care for orphans and physically handicapped persons, provide shelter and basic amenities for the poor, provide education to young people, and create employment and microfinance opportunities.

Although Gratia’s mission was first implemented in Nigeria, it is and will continue implementing new projects that positively impact countries throughout the world.

Gratia International's Team

Our initial team combines four important areas of expertise:

  1. International Development

  2. Education

  3. Business

  4. Fundraising



Our goal at Gratia International is to address the issues of poverty and injustice in all their forms—economic, social, and spiritual—with special focus on the correlative devastation brought by material poverty and the personal implications that it has in the spiritual realm, with the loss of hope, dignity, and self-respect in the face of hatred and corruption.

In many of these opportunities we see the potential for broad and meaningful human impact which we hope to unlock through our advisory and financial support of locally based social entrepreneurs who have the vision for positive impact and the skills and dedication to actualize their ideas.



Our approach is based on the belief that a wide range of truly transformational opportunities are overlooked because they may not fit into the traditional models defined by the international aid and development system.

What makes Gratia unique is our commitment to structuring the right balance with our partners, who don't want handouts but instead desire the dignity of making their own decisions and solving their own problems. Traditional aid doesn't fit into this approach, so our goal is to find an innovative way to partner internationally that will promote and safeguard the true humanity—in all of its dimensions and richness—of our partners by encouraging and facilitating their initiative and responsibility, thereby fostering hope for a sustainable and dignified future and posterity.

Gratia’s approach is simple:

  • We identify and select unique initiatives/ projects/ organizations and their leaders where they have the potential to transform the lives of the poor.

  • We help to develop these by providing support through guidance and funding to grow and expand existing as well as new/exploratory initiatives.

  • We continuously assess the progress of our work in order to ensure oversight is not burdensome, but appropriate and enabling. This means that our partner relationships are tailored.

An anonymous benefactor covers all of Gratia International's overhead, which means that 100% of all donations go straight to the beneficiaries on the ground.

Pillars of change

We have three priorities/“pillars of change” that guide the types of projects we support.

  1. Education: “Advancing access to ethical education at all levels”

  2. Leadership: “Advancing effective and moral leadership”

  3. Social Enterprise: “Building self-reliance through social enterprise”

Evaluation Criteria

We use a detailed set of evaluation criteria for both new and on-going projects. These criteria fall within five different areas of evaluation:

• Need – regional need, context, existing support options;

• Impact potential – alignment with mission, vision and pillars of change;

• Impact track-record – previous activities and accountability record;

• Leadership strength & potential – integrity, strength, network, appeal;

• Growth potential – long term growth trajectory.


Gratia International, with the help of VPF, currently educates a total of over 7,000 nursery, primary, secondary school, and university students in Uga, Enugu and Onitsha, operates a water company which provides fresh water and jobs to locals, and runs a micro credit operation.








The Tansian University is currently educating 2500 students at its satellite campus in Oba, but the long term plans are to build a permanent campus to educate some 15,000 students on 250 beautiful acres in Umunya, ideally located for airports and ground transportation. The master plan for the permanent university has already been approved and in addition to state-of-the-art academic buildings and student housing will also include a world class athletic complex and leadership training/conference facilities and will incorporate food plots and wind, solar, and hydroelectric power for self sustainable and environmentally friendly food and energy supply. 






Tansian University aims to become an international leader in terms of ethics, quality of education, and student experience on par with some of the leading institutions across the world. In line with this vision, a pan-African scholarship is being built to support students from every African nation to attend the Tansian University.

Together these scholarship students will participate not only in an educational experience of the highest standards, but also be in dialogue about leadership, human dignity, ethics and resolution of challenging issues in their own countries. Through this programme they will build long lasting networks with the future leaders of their neighbouring countries, sharing a vision for change and integrity for all.





In conjunction with Tansian University and the four feeder schools in the surrounding area, Gratia and VPF plan to create a sports academy based at a world-class athletic complex on the 250 acre permanent university site. We believe that sport provides an essential element in the education and character development which we are aiming to facilitate in Nigeria. In addition, those select few with the opportunity to transcend their milieu of poverty through sports careers need the concomitant education and character development to flourish fully in a dignified future and to protect them from those who would take advantage or lead them astray. 






Gratia International has a dramatic, educational movie, featuring top Hollywood talent and with production already completed, on the issue of unplanned pregnancy. Gratia is currently raising the funding to market and launch the movie as an educational project so that as many students and parents possible can be educated on this key issue of our times.



Dan Hill | Founder

Dan Hill, over the past thirty years, has led a wide range of entrepreneurial businesses in both the US and UK with significant valuations. He has been involved in building and operating companies as well as consulting and problem solving, capital raising, and strategic planning. Mr. Hill is a graduate of Harvard University’s OPM programme as well as of the senior executive finance programme at Oxford University's Templeton College. He is a qualified lawyer and holds various corporate directorships

James Hill,

President & Director

James is the President of Gratia’s 501(c)3 in the United States, Gratia International US, Inc. Currently CEO at Aging Aircraft Consulting (based in Warner Robins, GA), a company that is focused on providing quality solutions to the military maintenance community and helping to sustain their aging fleet of aircraft. Previously, at Marine Desalination Systems (MDS), as Vice President, James was responsible for the overall financial management of the company, budgeting, managing back office details, and U.S. Government contract negotiation & compliance (interface with DCAA and DCMA).

Anne Hill | Director

Anne Hill trained as a dental hygienist but for the last thirty years has been wife of Dan and mother to James, Conor, Joseph and Patrick, and guardian to Cash Kern for twelve years. In her spare time she has spent many years assisting the Missionaries of Charity, running a marriage preparation course and assisting women in the parish through Mothers Prayers. Most recently, Anne has been spiritual mother to the students of St Patrick's School of Evangelization. She has been involved with Voice of the Poor Foundation in several capacities since 1997.

Branigan Sherman, Vice President & Director

Branigan is Vice President of Gratia International US, Inc. He has been involved with starting, growing and saving non-profit organizations for over 20 years. He brings to Gratia his mission-oriented focus and experience in executive leadership, strategic planning and development. Branigan received degrees in philosophy and theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, Italy.

Andrew Bowie | Director

Andrew Bowie has almost a decade of experience in international real estate development and services and has also been active in fund raising and strategic planning for various entrepreneurial and non-profit activities. Previously Andrew spent significant time guiding team building and problem solving exercises and leadership training in the context of wilderness and outdoor adventures and completed graduate studies at Duke University and the Pontifical Gregorian University with a focus on philosophical and theological ethics.

Gavin Cunningham


Gavin joined Gratia International having worked as a corporate, commercial and regulatory lawyer in the city of London with Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP. Gavin has substantial experience of working with education-focused development projects in South America.

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