Award Recipients

About the Zotheka Foundation

The Zotheka Foundation will seek to invest in motivated individuals with mentoring support and financial aid for vocational programs and two and four year college tuition. We are focused on children and adults below the poverty line from communities including first generation college students, the children of immigrants to the US, survivors of child abuse and neglect, youth aging out of foster care and kids from families involved in the criminal justice system.


Zotheka in the Chichewa language in Malawi means POSSIBLE! Jim, James Jr. and Kelvin M. VandeHei, on a service trip with Watts of Love in 2022 kept hearing this term as they worked to disseminate solar lights in remote villages.

Our Mission

This trip and this word provided the inspiration for the VandeHei family (Jim, Autumn, Sophie, James and Kelvin) to start a foundation to incorporate the Zotheka ethos in all of their charitable endeavors. Autumn’s career as a senior government official and policy-maker in the US government and in the non-profit sector spanning more than 20 years has been dedicated to empowering youth at the margins of society and advocating for reform for survivors of human trafficking, physical and sexual abuse, and the foster care system.

Our grantees will never just receive a check. Integral to The Zotheka Foundation’s mission is mentoring support for the awardees, both before and during their pursuit of higher education. We want to address the poverty completion gap for first-time, full-time students college students and know from personal experience that mentoring support is critical to successful completion of any course of study for people impacted by trauma and/or living in poverty. The end goal is creating a path to economic security as well as supporting communities and non-profits connected to the student for holistic and tangible momentum towards gainful employment and a better life.

Just the Good Stuff Book Cover

Just the Good Stuff

Jim's new book, Just the Good Stuff, is about leadership and life lessons learned from growing up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to his professional career as a political reporter, and eventually as co-founder and CEO of both Axios and POLITICO. His professional opportunities arose initially from individuals willing to take a chance on him. The Zotheka Foundation wants to help pay that forward. All proceeds from Jim's new book Just the Good Stuff will go to the Foundation.