Partners in the fund include The Green Belt Movement, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Kenya Community Development Foundation.
· The fund will help nurture new ideas and initiatives, and encourage young people to lead the environmental conservation efforts in Kenya.
22nd October, Nairobi: The Green Belt Movement, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Kenya Community Development Foundation today announced the launch of The Wangari Maathai Scholarship Fund. The fund seeks to encourage and promote a youth-led sustainable development agenda that is grounded in values by encouraging creativity, activism and dedication to environmental issues.
Prof. Wangari Maathai strongly believed in nurturing new ideas and initiatives to make a difference for Africa and she dedicated her life to promoting environmental, social and democratic values to ensure equitable development in Kenya. Women form an integral support network for the work that the Green Belt Movement does to empower communities by conserving their environment and improving their livelihoods.
The Wangari Maathai scholarship fund will be awarded annually, with the first cycle being granted during the 2013 academic year. In its first year, the scholarship fund will support a young woman aged 18 to 25 years, who has promoted positive values, demonstrated outstanding leadership and dedication in environmental conservation.
Speaking during the launch held in Nairobi, Wanjira Mathai, Director, International Affairs at the Green Belt Movement explained:
“There is no greater gift than that of a good education. Giving young women the opportunity to realize their full potential enables them to transform their lives, that of their families and ultimately the living standards of their communities. Prof. Wangari Maathai valued education; she was the recipient of scholarships that made a big difference in her life and enabled her to nurture her values and leadership skills.
“For the Green Belt Movement, the fund’s focus on environmental issues is critical as our environment sustains all life forms and provides a foundation for development. One of our core fundamentals as an organization is a focus on values. As a society, we need to instill positive values in our youth so that they lead the way as custodians of the environment. This is an investment in the future of our great country.”
By encouraging young people to develop innovative approaches to environmental challenges in their immediate surroundings, the fund will help cultivate action-oriented leadership in environmental issues among the youth. It will also help tap the unexploited potential that exists among young people by encouraging them to refine their ideas and further develop their skills.
“The Wangari Maathai Scholarship Fund is a great example of immortalizing the passion of a great leader like Professor Maathai through environmental protection matters. Through this initiative, qualifying young people will be inspired to follow her foot steps in years to come. We hope there will be many more Kenyan organizations and individuals willing to add to this fund annually, so that the passion with which she carried herself, can be extended to many more young people in all the Counties throughout Kenya,” Janet Mawiyoo, Chief Executive Officer at the Kenya Community Development Foundation went ahead to say.
The launch of the Wangari Maathai scholarship fund is a twin effort of the New York based Maathai Award established by The Rockefeller Foundation, the Midler Family Trust, New York Restoration Project and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation established in New York. The Maathai Award is granted to public high school seniors in New York who have demonstrated academic and extracurricular commitment to environmental stewardship through sustainability-themed projects.
Eme Essien Lore, Interim Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation – Africa Regional Office stated:
“The launch of the Wangari Maathai scholarship fund demonstrates the increasingly important role innovation is playing in finding solutions to challenges that directly affect the quality of our lives. We live in a dynamic world; and equipping young people with the basic tools they require to actively make a difference will help incubate new ideas, in this case environmental, and encourage a culture of proactive risk mitigation rather than reactive problem solving.”
Applications are open and can be accessed on the websites:and . Young women across the country with any demonstrated passion for environmental issues are strongly encouraged to apply.