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Our Story


In 2021, Shanghai Sunrise celebrated its 25th anniversary. Our mission has always been to give children from low-income families a chance at a brighter future by helping them stay in school.


How did our story begin? Who founded Shanghai Sunrise and why?





































While the Shanghai today hardly resembles the Shanghai from 25 years ago, there are still numerous families who struggle to afford all education-related expenses for their teenagers. Together with our sponsors, volunteers and supporters, Shanghai Sunrise continues to work tirelessly to give these students a chance at a brighter future.



Help us make a difference:





Education for all?

While working on a documentary in Shanghai in early 1996, Charlotte Ashby, a British film producer, was surprised to often see young school-aged children playing in the streets in the middle of the day. After talking to people, she discovered that many families couldn’t afford to send their kids to school. It wasn’t just school fees; other education-related expenses such as books, uniforms, lunch and transportation were out of their reach. Together with her team, Charlotte wanted to help these kids from poor families attend school. An idea was born: Have her friends in the expat community sponsor local students so they could go to primary school. 

Cooperation with SCF


Without local knowledge and connections, taking the next step and making a lasting impact would have been difficult. To find families in need of financial assistance, Charlotte was put in touch with the recently created Shanghai Charity Foundation (SCF). As a new organization at the time, SCF was eager to find charitable causes and happy to work with foreigners who were willing to give back to the local community. Indeed, Shanghai Sunrise’s Chinese name literally meant “Foreign Friends’ Assistance to Education”. 


Creation of Shanghai Sunrise

Later that year, a small group of volunteers - Charlotte Ashby, Jade Ding, Julie Chu and Zhang Jun - officially founded Shanghai Sunrise under the umbrella of SCF. A scholarship of 2,500 RMB covered everything from tuition fees and books to glasses and lunch money. Jade Ding, a teacher and SCF worker assigned to this project, has been in charge of selecting disadvantaged students for the scholarships ever since. The first pairing ceremony was held at the Hilton Hotel with eight students and their sponsors. The rest like they say, is history.

Sponsor a Student 


Give them the gift of education. Break the cycle of poverty by empowering them to realise fulfilling careers, attain greater life opportunities and become a positive force within their community. 

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