About Us

“A refugee is someone who survived and who can create the future.” – Amela Koluder

My Journey from Refugee to RAMP

By Ursula Kruse-Vaucienne

I was a little girl, just three years old when we became refugees for the first time: We fled East Prussia to escape the advancing Soviet Army. Our mother, like many others, had the courage to commit to a long and perilous trek, heading westward, with her two little daughters in hand, without any resources. We lost our home, drifting nomadically for years as Germany’s social and economic infrastructure was left devasted after the war. There was very little help for refugees as I remember. Even basic resources like food and medical care were hard to come by. By chance, we landed in a village in what later became East Germany. We were not received with open arms. Instead, we were considered to be intruders that had to be shunned. Discrimination was alive and well towards refugees from the East.

And just six years later, we had to flee once more, again heading westward, this time to escape political persecution. Somehow, during and after the escapes, our mother protected my sister and me as best she could from the ravages of the aftermath of war: the hopelessness, the stigma, and the trauma. Our mother’s strong will to overcome and her unconditional love for us carried us forward to survive and thrive. 

For many years, I have dreamt about building a foundation to honor our mother and the inspiration, resilience, and tenacity she instilled in us. RAMP Foundation is the result, named after our mother, Rosa Anna Maria Plaep ( R.A.M.P.). Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic provided the opportunity not only for me but also for her living legacy, my family, to make my conviction come true.

I believe that our American identity rests on fundamental values that include supporting new arrivals with equal rights, equal protection, and equal opportunity, generation after generation. RAMP Foundation follows that call. It is organized to embolden and prepare volunteers, to give them the confidence that they, too, can have a powerful impact on a child, on themselves, and the world. RAMP Foundation cultivates Good Will.

                                                                                                                            Rosa Anna Maria Plaep  1911 – 1992

Shell-shocked sisters with brave Mom after flight, December 1944

Our Vision

We believe deeply in the power of compassion to change attitudes, lives, and ultimately, the future.

Our Mission

We support volunteers with travel grants and refugee-related guidance to enable them to work with refugee children on short-term assignment in the U.S.

Our Values

We are committed to individual growth and expression and to the principle that everyone counts.

Compliance and Transparency  

RAMP Foundation is a Section 501(c)(3) Private Operating Foundation and a Q71 International Migration & Refugee Issues organization. It is formed for public charitable purposes and is subject to stringent regulation by the Internal Revenue Service. We have an obligation to operate in a transparent manner and explain clearly how we further our charitable mission. Each year, we file the mandatory federal tax document, Form 990-PF, which contains significant details about our operation and compliance with applicable tax laws and regulation.

Furthermore, RAMP Foundation is registered, as required, with all but three states, i.e., Alaska, Hawaii, and Louisiana. If you have any questions about our state filings, please don’t hesitate to contact us at ramp.foundation/contact-us/

And RAMP Foundation is registered with two well-established charity monitoring groups. They rate charities. That is helpful for donors to find charities that align with their values.

About Us

Our objective is to support and promote volunteers who desire to help refugee children but lack the financial resources and adequate know-how to do so. While RAMP Foundation is not designed as a match-maker between individuals and charitable organizations in need of volunteers, our website provides links to all resettlement organizations to make the search for a short-term assignment easier and more convenient. Furthermore, potential volunteers can gain critical insights about child -refugee issues they might encounter that will help to make their short-term mission more effective and rewarding all-around

Board of Directors and Staff

RAMP Foundation does not have paid staff and is run entirely by volunteers. Our operation is powered by a proven set of automation software tools that help us to keep track and maximize our relationships with donors, volunteers, and other stakeholders. We use third-party vendors for some administrative functions.
Ursula Kruse-Vaucienne Founder & President

Ursula Kruse-Vaucienne is a versatile professional who has devoted her career to the intersection of science, technology and innovation in academia, government, and industry. She holds a master’s degree in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Volunteering has been an integral part of her life, and she has enjoyed contributing her time and talents to various nonprofit organizations: as board member; fundraiser/organizer/treasurer; musical theater producer; short-term missionary in Africa; counselor to abused women; and more. She has traveled extensively and has lived abroad..

As a child refugee in Europe, Ursula felt the effects of displacement and deprivation that, unfortunately, refugee children continue to experience in our world today. So, in 2020, she founded RAMP Foundation with the mission to marshal the power of volunteers to work on short-term assignments with displaced youngsters in the U.S.

Mary Lou Steger Vice-President & Secretary

Mary Lou Steger is an enlightened and intuitive educator who has the inspiring ability to bring out the best in children. While her teaching career focused on elementary students K-12, she briefly also instructed college-level students.

She also taught and helped children who had special needs. In addition to her work with challenged children, her classrooms often included refugee and other non-English speaking children. She found art and sign language to be helpful teaching tools with these students. Her work also involved counseling parents and involvement with various program related activities.

Mary Lou’s education includes a Diploma in Advertising Design from the Art Institute of Boston, a BFA in Art Education from Massachusetts College of Art, and Graduate School of Therapeutic Recreation, Northeastern University in Boston.

Kelly Littleton Treasurer

Experienced business owner and doer. Personable, compassionate, and empathetic introvert who loves taking care of people and getting things done. World traveler, amateur genealogist, avid reader.

Kelly is extraordinarily gifted at organization and communication. Where others may let their inbox get crowded, she doesn’t rest until she’s sent the last email. Taking action is what she does best – procrastination isn’t even in her vocabulary.

Kelly graduated with honors from UCLA and spent much of her professional career at the university in several important administrative positions. She loved working on campus with staff, students, and faculty. Her organizational, interpersonal, and administrative skills provided her with many opportunities at UCLA including student counseling, scheduling classes for the largest academic department on campus, supporting grad students and faculty at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and managing compliance for the Office of Intellectual Property.

In 2018, Kelly launched a successful six-figure Amazon reseller business which she sold in 2020. She contacted over 350 US-based distributors and built relationships with the best suppliers.

In 2021, Kelly and her husband Ken launched a property management business specializing in HOA, COA, and POA management. The couple have twenty years of experience as members and board members of their HOA community and wanted to use that experience to help others. While Ken loves fixing things, Kelly loves to take care of people. They are both doers and nothing makes them happier than a job well done.

Kenneth Littleton IT Manager

Ken is an enlightened leader, manager, and problem-solver with over 30 years in technology innovation, development, and project management experience in multiple industries. He has 20 years of experience as a Managing Member and Secretary of a townhome condominium association in Southern California. Ken is an expert on Texas State and Local Association Law, as well as best practices for Bylaws and CC&R’s. He has managed all aspects of association governance, finance, and community including budgets, reserves, vendor relations, major projects, legal, and communications. Ken is a member of the Austin chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI).

Ken has spent most of his professional career creating visual effects magic and technology for award-winning films such as Independence Day, Titanic, Star Trek, and Star Wars. His extensive film credits can be found on IMDB.

Envisioning Change, Making Things Work Properly, Building Trust, Living A More Fulfilled Life