22 more top students sent to Ivy League universities by KenSAP

The programme has unlocked Sh11.4 billion in education aid since 2004.

In Summary
  • They are selected from all 47 counties in Kenya and come from underprivileged backgrounds.
  • Each year, KenSAP selects 20 students from more than 1,000 highly qualified applicants.
Roberto Carlos Walwanda KenSAP Scholar and Abdalla Billie KenSAP Alumnus, pose for a photo during the KenSAP 5th Annual Charity gala at JW Marriot, Nairobi.
Roberto Carlos Walwanda KenSAP Scholar and Abdalla Billie KenSAP Alumnus, pose for a photo during the KenSAP 5th Annual Charity gala at JW Marriot, Nairobi.

The Kenya Scholar Access Programme (KenSAP) has ridden on an average annual budget of $300,000 (Sh39.3 million) to unlock more than $87 million (Sh11.4 billion) in financial aid to close to 300 bright students in Kenya.

Last week, 22 students were offered American university scholarships worth $7.5 Million (Sh980 million) for 2024 entrance to top Ivy League universities and colleges.

They have been admitted to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Amherst, Brown, Claremont McKenna, Colgate, Dartmouth, Davidson, Hamilton, Middlebury, Northwestern, Smith, Tufts, University of Pennsylvania, University of Toronto, Wellesley, and Williams.

The scholars comprise the top performers from the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education(KCSE) Class of 2023, selected from all 47 counties in Kenya, and come from underprivileged backgrounds.

KenSAP pays for students to participate in its free residential university access programme for nearly six months, guiding them through the American university application process and teaching them the skills they will need to excel in American universities.

The universities provide scholarship packages that cover a comprehensive range of expenses, including tuition fees, accommodations, meals, travel costs, and other costs of attendance.

The programme continues to provide students with guidance, mentorship, and support while they are studying at university.

This financial assistance ensures that the scholars can focus on their academic pursuits without the burden of financial constraints, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in their new educational environments.

Speaking during the dinner gala to celebrate the scholars, the principal benefactor and chairman of KenSAP’s Board of Directors, Charles Field-Marsham said it is their commitment to nurture the brightest minds in Kenya from disadvantaged backgrounds.

"By providing these exceptional students with the resources they need, we are not only investing in their futures but also the future of the country and bringing bright Kenyan minds to places all across the world,'' Field-Marsham said. 

“This achievement shows the potential of a true global citizen within you but there is still much hard work ahead of you to achieve your potential."

Each year, KenSAP selects 20 students from more than 1,000 highly qualified applicants.

Just to apply, candidates must rank among the top 1⁄10 of one per cent of all test takers on the KCSE.

KenSAP’s selection process, like that of the universities to which its students apply, is holistic, taking into consideration a range of criteria beyond the purely academic, such as family background, extracurricular accomplishments, commitment to community development, and leadership potential.

The selected students spend 20 weeks in residential training free of charge, with KenSAP covering all of their costs of attendance. In this training programme, they prepare for university entrance

Since 2006, every student taken into the programme has earned admission, with full financial aid, to a distinguished American college or university.

Since its inception in 2004, more than 80 KenSAP beneficiary students have returned to Kenya to work at leading companies and institutions.

The programme was launched when Kenyatta University Professor Mike Boit and American journalist friend John Manners initiated a successful pilot scheme with a group of five students which was a year later scaled to 12-15 students.

The founding sponsor Charles Field-Marsham stepped in to ensure management stability and financial sustainability for the programme, providing 95 per cent of its funding until 2017, when he and Alan Davidson, KenSAP’s current executive director, led the programme to a more sustainable fundraising approach.

Nowadays, the programe relies on alumni to fundraise almost 20 per cent of the annual budget, and in the past few years, they have given more than $350,000 of their own money back to KenSAP.

The team has also been finding other sources of sustainable financial support through Kenyan corporates such as those in attendance at the Annual Charity Dinner Gala.

The organisation's vision aligns with a time when private and public stakeholders are being called up to embrace sustainable practices by adopting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guide to assist in the attainment of inclusive and equitable quality education.

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