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In Kenya, the government will only pay for a child’s education through the 8th grade, yet countless bright, eager students in rural areas long for a chance to learn more.

To continue their education students have to work very hard to pass a rigorous National exam. Even if they pass, most are unable to attend high school for lack of fees. They live in abject poverty and can barely afford the basics to sustain life. Without financial help, even the best and brightest are doomed to languish in hopelessness, on a continent where 15,000 people die daily from the effects of poverty.

The Kenya Keys Sponsorship Program enables American individuals, groups and families to help a child fulfill a dream and have a future. For $375, a high school sponsorship provides room, board, tuition and books for a qualified and carefully selected student who will be matched with you.  Letters and photos between you and your student are hand delivered and exchanged each year by our volunteer interns who also interview each student and check on their progress. This process enables you to follow your student's progress over the years, learn about their interests, family and life in the African bush.

The success of our high school sponsorship program has resulted in several outstanding students qualifying for college each year!  Sponsoring these students for college education dramatically effects their future, their family, and their entire community.

AS OF JUNE 2012, Kenya Keys sponsors support:

  • 33 Special needs school students sponsored at Ndohivyo.
  • 123 Secondary school students sponsored (10 needing sponsorship).
  • 43 College and University students (5 needing sponsorship).

16 of the 33 secondary students who graduated last December are currently full time volunteer interns mostly teaching as mentors and serving as active role models back in the primary schools and high schools they attended.  The impact they are having as role models, mentors, and leaders in their home schools and communities is priceless and profound.

If a student sponsorship sounds right for you, please click above on our Donate page and select your desired sponsorship level.  If you have questions please email us directly at: Rinda@KenyaKeys.org.  We look forward to hearing from you.  Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about our Kenya Keys' Sponsorship Program.

Click on one of the above buttons to discover what an amazing experience it is!   

High School Sponsorships


You sponsorship covers room, board, school fees and books – all for less than a dollar a day!

See some of the sponsors that have chosen to make a difference in the world by “adopting” an African student.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."   -- Margaret Mead

"Mariam's Mentors" - friends at Lakeridge HS

Jacob Shimkus, representing Kenya Keys, gave an inspiring speech at the Oregon Model UN statewide conference in April 2012. A young girl, sophomore Molly Zaninovich, heard Jacob talk about how education can change a life; change a life entirely.  She saw the severe challenges facing the students in rural Kenya, and she decided she wanted to do something to help.  She came home and got together with six of her friends, all motivated, caring, bright students that were interested in helping as well.  The group decided they wanted to sponsor a Kenyan student.  Kenya Keys assigned them to Mariam Chiphenyo, a top girl who had actually slept in her rural classroom for a year, in order to have access to light to study by.  Her efforts helped her pass the national exam and qualify for a Kenya Keys sponsorship. Molly’s group, “Mariam’s Mentors” couldn’t be more proud about being able to support her.  And Mariam is thrilled to think there are students across the world that care about her and want to see her capture a future she never dared dream of.  Thank you Molly, Maris, Sienna, Sima, Ben, Noelle and Natalie!

Mariam Chiphenyo
The Vislocky Family

Kenya Keys has presented a perfect opportunity for our family to give to others in our own individual style. Some of us like to go to locations throughout the world and serve in the various communities. Others of us know we will probably never choose to do that, however, instead of doing nothing, we can sponsor a student and make financial donations to help fulfill the mission of Kenya Keys. We have been given the opportunity to sponsor a young man named Gabriel. One of our daughters was able to go to Sanburu and actually meet Gabriel while she volunteered for Kenya Keys last fall. It was one of the touching experiences she had ever had. We have complete trust and great respect for the individuals who are working to bring education to these young people.

Gabriel & Aly
Rich and Chris Marsee

Our family has had the great opportunity to support five students through Kenya Keys for the past few years. Our daughter Shelley spent time her senior year at Lakeridge High School collecting coins that raised $4000 to build a classroom at Magale Primary school as well. It has been great hearing from the students and seeing their pictures. IT is so rewarding to see them progress through high school, graduate, and see their hopes and dreams of an education become reality.  What a wonderful thing it is to know we are making a difference in the lives of these children!

Rashid, Joseph, Catherine, Moses
Mays Family - Carolyn, Wayne, Jesse & Martin

We have come to believe that we need to do more to help others, not out of obligation but out of love.  The small annual cost to sponsor a student, and the obvious difference this makes in a child's life, have made Kenya Keys a program that makes us feel like we are using our resources to maximum advantage.  The periodic letters we receive from Sombo, and the dreams that he talks about for his future, have become precious to us.  He will graduate from school in December and we have some of the same feelings we had when our sons graduated.  We feel pride and excitement to see his life continue to unfold with so much more promise than if he had not been able to continue his schooling.

We have felt so privileged to be able to help Sombo that this year we decided to sponsor another student.  We are glad to help - the cost of providing support to Richard's education is much less than the joy we feel in helping someone with few financial resources but a wealth of initiative and dreams to succeed.

Michael Sombo Diyo
John & Dominic

In May 2010, sponsor John Hester was able to go to Kenya and meet his student Dominic in person.  It was a touching experience to see John and Dominic greet each other for the first time.  John and his wife, Paula, had sponsored Dominic for two years, watching him grow and mature through his letters. John was able to visit Dominic's home and meet his family.  During the same trip, John was touched by a story that inspired him to sponsor a second student as well.  John describes it like this:

"An experience that sticks out in my mind is the day I met the deputy headmaster at Fuleye Primary School.  He has a large family and a number of years ago his brother and sister-in-law were killed in an accident.  Without a second thought, this humble man and his wife took in seven additional children to feed and care for them as their own, for a total of 15 children.  His oldest daughter and oldest niece both graduated from primary school and achieved the two highest test scores for girls in their school. But the government does not pay for secondary school.  The cost can be between $300 and $500 per year for public school.  Both of these girls qualified for some of the better schools in the area but the cost was prohibitive for a family that makes maybe $150 per month.  The community of teachers were trying to raise the money for tuition for the second child but had not yet been successful.  So Kenya Keys agreed to sponsor one of the girls so they could both attend.  When I heard this story, I saw a simple opportunity to make a huge difference in a young girl's life, all for less than a dollar a day.  When you see the desire these children and their families have for an education, and how hard they work just to survive, it is impossble not to help."

Mwaka - John's 2nd student

Cool Connections

The Kenya Keys sponsorship program began six years ago.  In those six years, many students have been able to fulfill their dreams, as education has changed their lives.  

Below you will see some of the “cool connections” between U.S.  sponsors and their students.  Some of these sponsors have even made it across the world to meet their students and share their love.

“Intercultural dialogue is the best guarantee of a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.”  -- Robert Alan

New Thoughts Book Club of Lake Oswego

After Deborah Shimkus went to Kenya with Kenya Keys, she returned and told her book club about the scholarship program.  After seeing the program from the inside, she came home very impressed and devoted to it.  Through her efforts, the members of the New Thoughts Book Club of Lake Oswego came together to share their love of reading and learning with their young Kenyan student Rafael Mwakio.  Though in Kenya, he is an orphan, Mwakio now has 12 "moms" who love him and follow his progress and needs.  The Book Club is holding a garage sale this summer to help pay for Mwakio's extra medical expenses.  Left untreated he would have gone blind.  They have also opened a special bank account for his "college fund" in hopes that he will perform well enough in school that he will qualify for teacher training college and continue his education.  All made possible because of his Kenya Keys sponsorship,  .

Mwakio Mjombo

Two and a half years ago Jeana Petersen, from Sun City West, Arizona, contacted Kenya Keys.  She had recently visited Africa and felt a strong desire to make a difference. She had read a newspaper article about the work of Kenya Keys and contacted Rinda.   Kenya Keys' Board Chairman in Kenya, Michael Nyanje, wanted to get his Masters in Community Development from the University of Nairobi.  Jeana was able to sponsor Michael for the two years to obtain the degree.  She and her husband, Bill, recently returned from visiting Michael and his wife, Paninah, in Nairobi, just after his graduation.  Michael is now not only a stronger asset for Kenya Keys, but he is now being nominated by a broad spectrum of supporters to run for Governor of Kwale County, serving approximately one million Kenyans.  Thank you Jeana!

Michael, Jeana, Paninah, Bill
Erin and Emma Young

In 2007 Erin and Emma Young, were 12 and 14 year old sisters, doing enough baby-sitting and odd jobs in their family and neighborhood to share in earning the $325 each year to sponsor Faith at Mackinnon Secondary school. Faith is one of the brightest students in her school.


In the months before our trip to Kenya, Stephen had been only a name --  one of the many in the stories Brent and Rinda told us about as they shared the presentation about the village.  After arriving in the village, it did not take me long to realize that although we may look like complete opposites -- Stephen and I actually share a great connection.  Sponsored by the Model United Nations club at my school, Stephen has excelled as a Business and Economics student at the University of Nairobi.  He and I share a love of public speaking, and a drive to motivate and inspire those who need it most.  He is an incredible young man, and it gives me great joy to call him my friend.  - Jacob Shimkus. 

Stephen & Jacob

Post High School Sponsorships

Robert & his High School Sponsors (Kelsey & Aliska)

I met Robert when he was just about to finish up his eighth grade year in primary school.  I was immediately impressed by his determination, drive and charisma.  He was always the first to lend a helping hand.  His big, beautiful, white smile was contagious.  I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to obtain an education myself, and after meeting Robert, I knew I wanted to help him in any way possible to continue his education.  My friend, Kelsey Edwards, and I saved up our money to do this together.

We were able to sponsor Robert through all four years of his secondary education.  He was up against a lot of challenges.  The eldest son of two to a single mother; Robert had a lot of pressure on him to succeed.  Unfortunately, through secondary school he was plagued with stomach pains that led him to miss a lot of school.  However, he maintained his grades and was able to graduate from secondary school- the first in his entire family! 

Robert then was able to volunteer for Kenya Keys in the library at his primary school.  He helped run the library in its first year.  He took his job very seriously and helped a lot.  This volunteer work helped him earn a scholarship with Kenya Keys to attend higher education and hopefully, one day, college. 

It has been a pleasure to sponsor Robert through his various stages of education.  I have loved watching that charismatic boy grow into a smart, successful young man.  He has been more than grateful every step of the way for his sponsorship.  He truly has blessed my life far more than he will ever realize.  

Robert @ Teacher College
Wasatch Healthcare Management

My name is Mark Hall.  My extended family has been involved with the Kenya Keys sponsorship program since its inception in 2005.  We have loved watching our students learn and grow and be able to enjoy opportunities they never would have had otherwise.  It’s been so fun to receive letters and photos from these students and feel like we have been an important part of their lives.

I am the Managing Partner of Wasatch Healthcare Management, we observe everyday how an education coupled with a desire to serves one’s community can change lives for the better.  This year I decided to get my business involved in helping to sponsor a young man, Ali Ditzu, who wanted to pursue his education beyond  high school.  He was smart and motivated and had spent a whole year volunteering for Kenya Keys hoping they could get a sponsor for him.  He had a strong desire to become trained in the medical profession so he could come back and help serve in his community.  Such training is considerably more expensive than a high school sponsorship, but I wanted to see him fulfill his dream, so I committed to raise $1,000 from my business.

It’s an honor to be able to connect with this fine young man.   His opportunities had been so stifled by his extreme poverty.  Wasatch Healthcare Management is happy to be part of his hopeful future.

Ali Dzito
Trabert Family

For the past five years our family has sponsored an amazing young man by the name of Kunifaa Juma.  Through Kenya Keys we heard about Kunifaa and his desire to continue his studies after finishing primary school.  He loved science and wanted to train to become an electrician.  Because electricity was to be coming to his area soon, he thought this would be a great way for him to become employable. 

When we first started sponsoring him he was just 15 years old.  He came from a large, very poor family, but he had always been a very motivated, good student.  For three years we sponsored him to go to a trade school.  He then took a year off to volunteer full time for Kenya Keys in the their first community library.   As a family, we followed all of his progress.  We were so proud of him and his efforts to help open and sustain this new library.  (Click here and then scroll to entry 3 to view a blog about this).

This year he has gone to Nairobi to further his studies as an electrician.  When he completes this training,  he will return to his home area to help “electrify” his community.  We’ve loved receiving letters from him every year and we’ve loved seeing how our sponsorship has helped him not only realize his dreams, but become a great role model and leader.  --Thank you, Kenya Keys, for providing us with this great opportunity.

Kunifaa Juma

When we went to Kenya as interns in May 2010 we had no idea what to expect. Though we were obviously aware of Kenya Keys’ sponsorship program, we didn’t think we were financially prepared to sponsor a student ourselves. We had just finished college and the future had a lot of unanswered questions. But when we met Rajab, we knew our small sponsorship would have enormous impact.

Rajab contacted Kenya Keys a few weeks before we arrived. He heard there were interns coming from the U.S. and he wanted to volunteer with us and hopefully learn from us in the process. The reality was we had far more to learn from him. Rajab is a student in computer science. He is eager to learn and apply technology in his village. He dreams of one day becoming a technology entrepreneur, which we have no doubt he will do. He is also one of the most giving people we have ever met. When he volunteered with Kenya Keys he never asked for anything in return. All he wanted was an opportunity to learn and help his community. When we found out he was putting his final year of school on hold due to financial constraint, we knew we had to help him. His schooling cost less than a new TV, but we know the value of his degree will forever enrich his life as well of the lives of his entire village. Rajab, like many of the other sponsored students we met, is deeply committed to his family and his community. We know his education will bless the lives of countless people throughout Kenya. We are honored to have the opportunity to play a small role in education.

Bryson White receiving gift rooster from Rajab
Francy & Bob Heffernan

Long time educator Francy Heffernan joined Kenya Keys as a sponsor three years ago.  Francy graduated from Stanford and went on to become one of the best loved teachers in Lake Oswego, Oregon, where she taught for many years.  When she heard about the opportunity to sponsor young women that wanted to become teachers, she jumped at the chance.   Carolyn Galuka was the first girl she was able to sponsor through teacher training college.

 Now she is sponsoring Mariam Kaduka Tsimba a good student who comes from a very impoverished family.  Miriam is now in teacher training college as well.  She has also joined with some of the Kenya Keys sponsored students to begin a small nursery business.  By selling plants and small trees, these students hope to raise the money to sponsor a student of their own.  It’s amazing to see what the light of education can generate!  

Carolyn and Mariam at teacher training college

Students Needing Sponsorship

Narcys Kadzoyo Lundema
Name: Narcys Kadzoyo Lundema

Narcys learned well for 8 years at Bahakwenu primary school and earned a good score on the National Primary School exam.  He has been offered admission at Shimba Hills Secondary School.  He comes from a polygamous family.  His father has two wives.  His mother has got seven children. The step mother has got five children. Narcys is fifth born.  His father is a teacher and finds it hard to meet all school financial obligations of all his brothers and sisters.   Narcys world like to be an electrical engineer.  He needs sponsorship to enable him to realize his dreams when he grows up.  (UPDATE-Narcys has just been sponsored)


Paul Charo
Name: Paul Charo

Paul Charro graduated from secondary school (high school) in  2010.  He scored very well on the national KCSE exam, which is a great accomplishment considering he came from a school where he had very few books and resources.  His father died when he was young, leaving his mother with eight children.  The poverty level of this family has been extremely high, since the mother is a peasant farmer.  While working, she fell on a machete that cut off four of her fingers, making it even more difficult for her.  Paul is her second oldest child.   He hopes to go to college and get a diploma in education so he can get a good teaching job and support his family.  He is a hardworking, dedicated young man who would make an outstanding teacher. A diploma in education is currently $750/ year for three years.   (UPDATE-Paul is now being sponsored by a family in Portland)

Ngowa Rodgers
Name: Ngowa Rodgers

Ngowa attended Membeni Primary school and scored very well on the national primary school graduation exam.  He was the second  best student. He comes from a polygamous family. His father Bengowa has sixteen children. Ngowa has six siblings from the same mother.  None of his elder brothers went to school. He is the first person in the whole family to see the doors of the high school.  He has been admitted to join Agoro Sare High School a high quality provincial school in Nyanza Province, western Kenya.  (UPDATE-Ngowa was matched with an Oregon sponsor)

Peter Dani Makanga
Name: Peter Dani Makanga

Dani took the national exam at Bahakwenu primary school and scored high enough to qualify for a Kenya Keys sponsorship.  His family was very happy about this!   He comes from a family of seven children; three girls and four boys.  He is the fourth born.   Dani’s parents are peasant farmers and have no permanent jobs.  They find it hard to meet high school fees as they are paying for a daughter in youth polytechnic and younger children in primary school. Dani needs assistance to realize his dream to become a  clinical health officer when  he completes his high school studies.

Naomi Edward
Name: Naomi Edward

Naomi  is a 16 year old girl.  The last born child from a single family of three children, one sister and a brother.   They have been single handedly brought up by their mother  who separated from their father.  Her sister never went to high school, but her brother completed his form four last year at Taru High School through the support of bursaries.  Naomi attended Taru Primary school and scored 268 marks on the KCPE.  She was admitted to attend St. Johns Girls High School.  A fundraising was organized by villagers to enable her join Form 1.  Her mother sells vegetables and cannot support her well therefore she has been having difficulties to pay her school fees.  Naomi needs assistance to complete her education and realize her dream of becoming a nurse.  (UPDATE-Naomi is now sponsored)

Christine Mwaka
Name: Christine Mwaka

Christine is a total orphan from the Samburu area.  She attended Samburu Primary School  together with her sister under the guardianship of her aunt.  She completed primary school in 2009 and scored very well on the national primary school graduation exam.  She was assisted with some donations from well wishers to join a respected girls high school in Mombasa.  Since her admission to the school, she has been on and off being sent home to collect school fees.  Most of the time when this happens, she spends a lot of time at home.  Her younger sister is attending a high school sponsored by Kenya Keys.  Christine would like to become a nurse.  She needs a sponsor to enable her to realize her dream.

More Stories

Natalie and Jim McCullough

What a privilege it has been for our family to sponsor a young man from Kenya in the opportunity to attend school. When Rinda gave me several options of children to sponsor, I was drawn to Gonzi because he was described as an "average academic scholar, but innovative and friendly". I want average people of imagination and kindness to have access to the opportunities that change lives. My family is average! It turns out that during our years of sponsorship, Gonzi has shown great initiative by starting a small nursery micro business to help support his family of very limited means. I believe his school training helped give him the foundational tools and the inspiration to be successful so young. We love to hear from him on occasion and share a little of his life, so far from ours, and so very near to our hearts.

Suzy Setterholm

I’m a high school teacher in intercity Portland Oregon. As you know, it isn’t easy coming up with money to donate on a teacher’s salary, but after Brent and Rinda Hayes did an outstanding presentation at our school and showed us what a huge difference a sponsorship could make to an eager Kenyan student, I knew I had to come up with the money somehow. My students were so moved by the presentation and their new insight that they also wanted to pool their resources to sponsor a student as well. We’ve loved following our students over these past three years. It feels great knowing that someone’s entire life has been changed because of your simple contribution.

Mel & Emma Lou Thayne

It's been a real joy to our lives in sponsoring Samuel for 4 years.  He is graduating and Kenya Keys has made it possible for us to see this first generation student be an example in his family and his community.  He is now volunteering by assisting teachers in the primary school he graduated from 4 years ago.  This role model example is reaping big rewards as the current primary school students see that it is possible.  He is hoping to be accepted into teacher training college, but that is contingent on his preformance on the National Exam.

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