Who We Are

Confluence Institute is a private grantmaking foundation that supports exceptional grassroots organizations building resilient rural communities in East Africa and the U.S. Interior West. We fund locally led, community-driven approaches to sustainable rural development, characterized by climate resilience and improved livelihoods.

Our Mission

We support grassroots ingenuity that builds resilient rural communities where people and nature thrive.

Our Vision

Engaged philanthropy honors and amplifies local vision.

Our values
We believe in the promise of locally-led solutions that uplift livelihoods and create sustainable sources of food, energy and clean water in rural communities confronting climate change. Our work is guided by the following values.
Trust

We believe in our partners’ expertise, reliability and truth.

Grassroots

Locally-led organizations are essential drivers of sustainable change rooted in localized knowledge, community connections and experience maximizing limited resources. 

Equity

Economic and social justice are crucial for community-wide development that offers all people the opportunity to pursue dignified, creative and productive lives.

Efficacy

Nonprofits can enhance their impact and the public good by integrating private sector best practices that increase efficiency and results.

Ingenuity

Grassroots vision and resilience are central to sustainable community change.

Founding Story
Helping Visionary Thinkers Lead Community Change

Eric Younger founded Confluence Institute to advance his dream of empowering outstanding NGOs in places that are important to him and his family – rural East Africa and the U.S. Interior West. Eric’s commitment to furthering the work of outstanding nonprofits is driven by his personal experiences leading nonprofit organizations such as the Gathering Place on the Navajo Reservation and the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD). These roles and his work with the Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea and Bulgaria fueled his commitment to advancing sustainable community development.

Eric and his wife Heidi devote their time to helping visionary thinkers build local capacity to lead community change in rural East Africa, and to fostering stewardship, restoration, research and educational opportunities in central Idaho.

Meet Our Team
Ashley Orton
Ashley Orton
East African Program Director

Ashley Orton
East African Program Director

Ashley oversees the Confluence Institute’s work partnering with visionary organizations to promote equitable, sustainable community development in East Africa. For over two decades, her skill in strategic planning, impact measurement, training and fundraising has bolstered the growth of small, dynamic nonprofits working in East Africa, the Caribbean and Central Eastern Europe. Most recently, Ashley has focused on locally led development in Uganda as Chief Strategy Officer for the Foundation for Community Development and Empowerment, a Confluence Institute partner. Prior to that she served as Asante Africa Foundation’s Program Director, advancing children’s education in Tanzania and Kenya and leading the creation of an internationally recognized program focused on girls’ rights and personal safety, reproductive health and financial literacy. She has also worked with larger institutions, including the Peace Corps, Amnesty International USA, the National Democratic Institute and USAID’s Democracy Network Program. Ashley earned a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College. She serves on the board of Music Heals International.

Cydney Pearce
Cydney Pearce
Operations Manager

Cydney Pearce
Operations Manager

Cydney oversees Confluence Institute’s business activities ranging from resources and operational planning to policies, procedures and efficiencies. Her experience spans nearly 25 years in the government and non-profit sectors. Most recently, she was Operations Director with the Wood River Land Trust, which works to protect over 26,000 acres and 14 public preserves in Idaho’s Wood River Valley. Previously, she was Director of Development with Idaho State University. She served as a senior aide to former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas from 1999-2010. During that time, she focused on economic development and legislative issues related to education and the environment and served in three U.S. Senate campaigns as Deputy Campaign Manager and Financial Compliance Director. 

In 2002, she received the Jeffrey Ledbetter Memorial Award from the Democratic Party of Arkansas and represented the state as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Cydney earned a master’s degree in public administration from Idaho State University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi. A native of Helena, Arkansas, Cydney and her husband John relocated to Idaho in 2011. In her spare time, Cydney can be found running her Bloodhound Poodle mix Jenny on a local trail, skiing or hitting the links on a nearby golf course.

Our Board
Eric Younger
Board Member
Eric Younger
Board Member

Eric Younger
Board Member

A Pacific Northwest native and Idaho resident, Eric has 25 years of executive leadership experience in sustainable development. His academic background and professional experience are focused on enabling nonprofits to become vibrant, effective and sustainable organizations that provide a powerful voice for the constituencies they represent.

Heidi Younger
Board Member
Heidi Younger
Board Member

Heidi Younger
Board Member

Heidi is cofounder of White Clouds Preserve (WCP), a nonprofit organization fostering stewardship, restoration, research and education opportunities in central Idaho. She and her husband Eric have worked in the U.S. and internationally supporting community organizations that use sustainable development practices.

Scott Younger
Board Member
Scott Younger
Board Member

Scott Younger
Board Member

Scott  is president of SP Holdings Inc., a Pacific Northwest-based entity in the wholesale sector industry with 13 companies in its portfolio. In addition to his extensive background in business operations, Scott is passionate about enabling sustainable business development in East Africa.

Laird J. Lucas
Board Member
Laird J. Lucas
Board Member

Laird J. Lucas
Board Member

Laird is founder and executive director of Advocates of the West, a public interest, nonprofit environmental law firm that protects and defends the West’s natural treasures and wildlife. A leader in international environmental litigation for more than 20 years, he possesses a deep understanding of how to achieve environmental conservation and resilience, and sustainable development.

Sylvia Kabugho
Country Director, FCDE, Advisory Board
Sylvia Kabugho
Country Director, FCDE, Advisory Board

Sylvia Kabugho
Country Director, FCDE, Advisory Board

As the senior FCDE representative in Uganda, Sylvia has been with the organization since inception in 2011. She has more than 14 years of experience with nonprofit organizations and is passionate about sustainable development through empowering grassroots community groups.

Rebecca Raymond
Director of Operations, FCDE, Advisory Board
Rebecca Raymond
Director of Operations, FCDE, Advisory Board

Rebecca Raymond
Director of Operations, FCDE, Advisory Board

A nonprofit devotee, Rebecca has almost 20 years of experience working with organizations dedicated to youth and community development across the globe. She has capitalized on her work in the field in order to create comprehensive, multi-faceted programs designed to address community-identified needs and solutions.

Partnering with grassroots organizations in East Africa and the U.S. Interior West

At the Confluence Institute, we believe in taking care of organizations and the environment in our backyard, while also supporting sustainable development in East African communities experiencing the frontline impacts of a changing climate. Explore some of the revolutionary organizations we’re partnering with.

Who we fund
Partnering with grassroots organizations in East Africa and the U.S. Interior West

At the Confluence Institute, we believe in taking care of organizations and the environment in our backyard, while also supporting sustainable development in East African communities experiencing the frontline impacts of a changing climate. Explore some of the revolutionary organizations we’re partnering with.

Get in Touch
Questions or comments for our organization? Fill out the contact form with your information and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Thank you!