The Children of Kibera Foundation (CoKF) is a 501c3 tax- exempt charitable and educational foundation working to create opportunities for orphans and vulnerable children living in the Kibera slums in Nairobi.
The Children of Kibera Foundation was started in 2006 by Kenneth Okoth, a former high school history teacher at the Potomac School and former visiting professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Ken was raised in a family of six children with a partially-employed, single mother in the Kibera slums of Nairobi. After primary school, he obtained a scholarship to a boys’ boarding prep school, Starehe Boys. The opportunity to attend one of Kenya’s leading secondary schools led Ken to pursue his undergraduate and graduate degrees in the United States. Many years later, Ken returned to Kenya as a well-educated, compassionate, and empowered individual prepared to make a difference in the lives of children facing the same problems he had to contend with in his youth. In his first two years at the Potomac School, Ken disclosed to his colleagues, students and parents about his humble origins and his efforts to serve the children of Kibera by supporting educational opportunities and providing sponsorship. The Potomac School community, compelled by Ken’s story and effort to give back, became Children of Kibera’s first group of donors and, to this day, its fiercest supporters and advocates.
The first donations in May 2006, raised by the Potomac School community, helped Ken to partially sponsor the primary school education of ten orphans and to fund a two month feeding program for more than seventy children at the Red Rose School in Olympic, Kibera. Throughout the 2006-2007 school year, the Potomac School continued fundraising and awareness efforts and CoKF gained the support of other individual donors from across the United States. This increase in donor support allowed Ken to fully sponsor a total of thirty-five orphans at the Red Rose School in 2007. At the same time, Children of Kibera Foundation obtained its 501(c)3 status in Washington, DC.
Over the past three years, CoKF has utilized its increased funding and support to implement community-based projects at other schools. In 2009, the organization started KiberaOnline by using a portion of the funds to set up donated computers in local Kiberan schools. These computer labs not only serve to advance the education of young students, but also the local community and the school itself. After school hours, the lab can be used by outsiders, which will expand computer and Internet access to the general community. So far, Red Rose School and the Kibra Academy, a secondary school nearby, have benefited from KiberaOnline and hope to soon generate a profit by opening up a lab to the public. Additionally, Children of Kibera Foundation has expanded its support of the Red Rose School to include teacher training, with the help of LitWorld, and to include more donated school supplies and materials, new classrooms, and books.
Children of Kibera Foundation has no secretariat, and is run by a volunteer Executive Director and a board of eight trustees who devote their time to developing strategy, raising awareness, and gathering financial and in-kind resources to support the Red Rose School. CoKF employs a Project Coordinator to oversee operations and management at the Red Rose School and other, various projects in Kibera.
Below is a chronological list of achievements and major milestones for Children of Kibera Foundation.
Ken Okoth started the Children of Kibera Foundation (CoKF). CoKF collected its first set of donations, totaling $500, which was used to partially sponsor the education of less than ten orphans and to fund a two month long feeding program at the Red Rose School. The Potomac School community in McLain, Virginia conducted these first fundraising efforts.
November 2006- June 2007
The Potomac School community continued its fundraising efforts and donated a total of $5,000 to the Children of Kibera Foundation. The organization also raised $7,000 from individual donors from across the United States, which, in total, allowed CoKF to increase the number of fully sponsored orphans at Red Rose to thirty-five children. These monetary donations also contributed the following additions at Red Rose School: the construction of a third grade classroom and hiring of a new teacher (January 2007); a refurbished learning and resource room, complete with a mini-library, TV/DVD player, three Apple I-Book laptops, and blackboard; repainting of interior and exterior walls, desks and chairs of five classrooms, the main office, and kitchen; provision of new textbooks, teacher resource guides, pencils, crayons, paints, art supplies, glue, posters, puzzles, games, sports equipment, and other various supplies; and timely salary payment for teachers.
Children of Kibera Foundation hosted its first group of eleven students, teachers, and parents from the Potomac School in Kibera, where they volunteered at the Red Rose School.
Following the summer trip, CoKF was incorporated in the District of Columbia and its first board of directors was formed.
Children of Kibera Foundation also began the High School Scholarship Program by choosing four female students to sponsor throughout their time in secondary school. The program has grown each year and now fully sponsors the high school educations of twenty-one students from Kibera. These scholars receive full sponsorship, meaning CoKF pays tuition fees, food, shopping, uniforms, and pocket money. The scholarship is designed to leave the students and their families with no financial burdens with how to afford high school. In addition, the $12,000 in funding from the previous year made it possible for CoKF to construct a fourth grade classroom at Red Rose School.
A number of Potomac School parents and teachers visited the Red Rose School and other schools in Kibera.
Children of Kibera Foundation added ten students to the High School Scholarship Program, totaling fourteen sponsored students in the best provincial and national schools in Kenya. Two students accepted this year were admitted Kenya’s top national schools: Moi Girls Eldoret and Nairobi School (for boys).
Children of Kibera Foundation began KiberaOnline, by partnering with other organizations to install computer labs in selected primary and secondary schools in Kibera. CoKF started this project by installing ten laptops at the Red Rose School, allowing students to have weekly computer classes and that the teachers have access to Internet and e-mail. The second project, which was officially completed during the summer of 2009, took place at Kibra Academy, a community secondary school. CoKF partnered with Kensington Cares, a tour company, to install ten laptops (donated by CoKF) and twenty desktop computers (donated by Kensington Cares). The lab was also equipped with quality security measures (extra window bars and motion detectors), updates software, and a computer instructor.
Jenny Koons and Pam Allyn, of LitWorld, began a nine-day pilot partnership with Children of Kibera Foundation, bringing the latest approaches to teaching and promoting literacy into practice in Kenya. They conducted a two-day professional development workshop for eight teachers from community schools that serve nearly 500 children in the slums of Kibera.
Children of Kibera Foundation held its first public event in Kibera- a music festival themed “Positive Living in Kibera”. The event, designed as a student competition, invited secondary schools from Kibera to participate in different categories of performance. Students performed dances, songs, dramas, verses, and dramatized dances.
Children of Kibera Foundation installed its third computer lab as part of the KiberaOnline initiative. This lab was placed in Lutheran Primary School, a small primary school attached to the local Springs of Life Lutheran Church. The lab currently holds classes for students, teachers, and church youths who are interested in learning computer basics.
Children of Kibera Foundation accepted seven more students into the High School Scholarship Program, totaling twenty-one scholars receiving sponsorship. Following the selection process this year, CoKF has registered almost 400 students for the 2011 scholarship opportunity.