Kenya Scholar-Athlete Project (KenSAP) has secured admissions for 179 Kenyan students to top-tier universities in North America through its program since inception, making it one of the largest scholarships in the region.
KenSAP prides itself in securing admission at institutions such as Harvard (19 students), Yale (12 students) and Princeton (11 students) among others, all with full scholarships from the universities, while attracting very little attention in Kenya beyond the campuses of the high schools from which it draws its students.
Speaking about the program ahead of a planned fundraising event in Nairobi, KenSAP’s Co-Founder and Executive Director, John Manners said that they are hoping to attract more attention to supplement the donations they have received from American and Canadian sponsors.
“We think we have a good story to tell, and we are seeking to sustain our efforts to support the needy students and maintain this astonishing success rate with top American universities, having placed 100% of our students since 2006 – a record unmatched anywhere in Africa,” Manners added.
Recently KenSAP expanded its initial regional focus to take in students from across Kenya, enrolling students from more than 30 counties in the past three years.
Out of 179 students placed, 173 have already graduated, or are on track for timely graduation, according to the foundation.
Once admitted to KenSAP, the students go through a 14-week residential training at the program’s base, where KenSAP’s instructors work with them on Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) preparation and university applications.
“Currently, our ambition has grown, from just placing scholars to developing a generation of leaders who can help lift the majority of Kenya’s citizens out of crippling poverty, and thereby also to lift the whole East African region, of which Kenya is the economic engine. Once admitted to university, we continue to support them throughout their undergraduate years and beyond, conducting three annual gatherings in the US at which students exchange ideas and receive guidance from professionals. In addition, we run a career guidance and networking support that has launched dozens of students on promising careers in Kenya,” Allan said.
Despite the success, KenSAP’s greatest challenge in the recent past has been how to make the program financially sustainable and not dependent on the support of a single major donor.
“Our new partnership with the M-PESA Foundation has gone a long way towards meeting that challenge,” said Davidson. KenSAP’s students and alumni have also pitched in, with more than 60% of them making small monthly contributions that amounted to nearly $25,000 (Ksh250,000) last year.”
This week the program gained the support of more than a dozen Kenyan corporations that took part in the gala fundraising dinner at a Nairobi hotel. An initial effort of this sort last year brought in close to Ksh5 million.
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