By running the City of Oaks Marathon on November 1, 2009, I hope to support the education of very bright but needy Kenyan students.
R4SA: Run 4 Starfish Africa
Starfish Africa is a US-based non-profit that operates primarily in Kenya, a developing country in East Africa. Kenya is home to more than 30 million people who live on an average of just a few dollars per day. It is a nation poised for growth, but it stagnates due to a lack of effective, service-oriented leaders. Starfish Africa endeavors to identify and develop those leaders, leaders who can transform their home communities and entire country.
Millions of children in Kenya benefit from free primary school, but secondary school – the equivalent of our American high school, which costs about 1,000 dollars per year at Kenya’s best schools – remains out of touch for far too many Kenyan children. And yet, it is the only path to a bright future. When SA President Pete Kingston taught primary school in a Nairobi slum, his students would beg him for extra instruction during lunch breaks and after school; but no matter how hard they worked and how much potential they had, they would soon face a nearly insurmountable headwind in the form of school fees. Starfish Africa was founded to combat this specific problem.
Starfish Africa identifies students that fit these criteria – exceptionally bright, but in tremendous need – students with remarkable potential on the verge of leaving school for good. They call them Starfish, and there are currently 40 studying at 11 different schools. Starfish Africa's main function is to sponsor the students at Kenya’s best public schools – but they are not just a faceless sponsor. They pay fees for school, but they supplement their school with leadership development -- they send them on service projects to help other needy Kenyans and to instill a passion for their country, they provide them mentorship, and they provide all-important computer instruction. Additionally, their oversight is extremely proactive – they track their students' academics very closely, and they know their students' vocational aspirations.
Finally, how does a grassroots organization like Starfish Africa spend your generous donations? The same way they spend their Board contributions. Up to this point, nearly 40 percent of Starfish Africa's donations have come from the Board of Directors. It may not be surprising, then, to learn that they are exceptionally efficient – more than 98 percent of Starfish Africa's 2009 revenue will reach Kenya for on-the-ground program expenses. They take very seriously their roles as stewards of your gifts.
Your donation, your investment, will pay incredible dividends for the Starfish.