Back-to-School Update

Here is a quick update now that the school year is underway.

First, a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to the members of Students Supporting KEEP (SSK) at John Jay Middle School! These students campaigned to designate KEEP as the beneficiary of the Rock the Halls charity concert at JJMS in June. This phenomenal fundraiser generated nearly $4,000 for the girls we support at the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Way to go, SSK!

Rock the Halls

The KEEP clubs at both John Jay High School and Middle School are going strong. The first fall meeting of the JJHS club, Students for KEEP, drew a record number of 35 students! These clubs focus on the need to educate girls worldwide, exploring issues of gender discrimination and social justice, while helping to support the KEEP/KCE partnership.

As you plan your final charitable contributions for 2018, remember that educating girls is one of the most powerful ways to raise communities out of poverty.  Please help us fulfill our pledge to cover tuition expenses for every girl in the KCE eighth grade class. Before coming to KCE, many of these girls were at high risk for child marriage and FGM.  Now, they are learning, growing and thriving.  You are a crucial part of their success!

Donate now.

Kenya Katonah Education Exchange KEEP Girls in School

Education Exchange Is a Reality!

Four of our KEEP-supported eighth grade students from the Kakenya Center for Excellence had an extraordinary visit to the U.S. last month!

Students from Kenya arrive at Katonah train station for Education Exchange

When these girls traveled from Kenya to attend the Montessori Model United Nations Conference in New York City, they made history: This was the first time that participants in this international conference came from an African nation! A grateful shout-out to Andy Greene, a KEEP supporter and teacher at the Whitby School, who worked tirelessly to make this dream a reality.

Rahab answers questions at Katonah Education Exchange

On March 19th, KEEP hosted a reception and ice cream social at the Katonah Village Library, where an energized, standing-room-only crowd welcomed the girls, two of their program leaders, and Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya, the founder of the Kakenya Center for Excellence.

After the JJHS Notables kicked off the festivities with a delightful a cappella performance, Bedford Town Supervisor Chris Burdick presented the KCE girls with an official proclamation of honorary citizenship.

The highlight of the evening was a question and answer session led by the JJMS and JJHS KEEP clubs. With thoughtfulness and humor, the KCE girls described their daily lives in rural Kenya, shared their hopes for the future, and giggled about trying pizza for the first time.

To top off an amazing evening, donations from the event totaled $1,500!

Kenya Katonah Education Exchange JJMS

After spending the night with Katonah families, the girls visited JJMS and JJHS where they toured the schools and attended classes with KEEP club members.

Kenya Katonah Education Exchange JJHS

Learn more in The Katonah Lewisboro Times and at News12 Westchester.

Kakenya’s reflection on the visit affirms the special bond KCE shares with our community:

“The girls had a wonderful time and they learned so much. They really felt your community’s embrace… Thank you for loving these girls and working so hard to give them the education and opportunities that they deserve.”

Please help us continue to support these incredible girls and their classmates by making a gift today. Donate now.

First Annual Paddle Tournament

 The first annual women’s paddle tennis tournament on February 15 was a smashing success!  A full roster of two dozen players hit the courts at the beautiful Waccabuc Country Club to score points for girls’ education.  Through registration donations and raffle ticket purchases, these amazing women contributed more than $1,900 to support our eighth grade girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Way to go!!

We had such a good time playing paddle, chatting around the fire and catching up with old and new friends!

A special shout-out to Richard Finn, John Assumma, Kris Fenton, Vivian Song, Becky Hjerpe, and Irene Marks for their generosity in helping to make this event possible.

Fundraising Milestone Keep Girls In School

Extraordinary Milestone for KEEP!

Thanks to your support, KEEP has reached an extraordinary milestone: We have now raised more than $50,000 for the Kakenya Center for Excellence! All of your donations – large and small – have added up to produce an enormous impact. Because of your generosity, 37 girls at KCE have received full annual tuition from KEEP since our partnership began in 2014. Not only have these girls pursued their dream of education, they have also been protected from child marriage and FGM. Together, we are making real and powerful change!

And here’s an even bigger number: Since KEEP’s inception in 2011, we have raised nearly $100,000 for girls’ education!

During our first four years working with Apne Aap in India, KEEP contributed more than $44,000 to fund educational programs for over 130 girls at risk of child marriage and sex trafficking. What we can achieve when we join forces is truly astounding.

As we move forward into the New Year, our girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence start eighth grade, growing in knowledge, skills and maturity. They are the future leaders of their community. We are incredibly proud of them.

Please KEEP your gifts coming to ensure our girls’ continued success in 2018!

Donate today

JJMS starts KEEP club!

Tremendous news! A group of John Jay Middle School students have formed a new club, Students Supporting KEEP, under the guidance of faculty advisor Laura Atwell.

After learning about the many benefits of educating girls around the world, these students modeled their idea for a club on the Students for KEEP club at John Jay High School. Now both middle and high schoolers are raising their classmates’ awareness of the need to educate at-risk girls, one of the most important issues facing our world today.

“Did you know that one of the best ways to fight climate change is to keep girls in school?” asks Students Supporting KEEP on the flyer announcing their first meeting. Surprised? According to research cited in Drawdown, a new book edited by green entrepreneur Paul Hawken, the education of girls ranks #6 on the list of the top 80 solutions for reducing greenhouse gases.

Educated girls:

  • Curb population growth by having fewer babies
  • Earn higher wages and realize greater upward mobility
  • Have lower rates of maternal mortality
  • Have healthier babies
  • Are less likely to marry as children or against their will
  • Have lower incidence of HIV/AIDS and malaria
  • Have more productive agricultural plots and better nourished families

What better reasons do we have to support our girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence? Let’s follow the lead of our JJMS and JJHS students! Make your donation today.

Social Activism Keep Girls in School

Sharing KEEP’s mission in Byram Hills

On May 3rd, KEEP board members Ruthie Rosenberg and Cynthia Braun presented KEEP’s work to freshmen at Byram Hills High School as part of the VOX Summit, a conference designed to introduce students to ways they can make a difference in both their local community and around the world. Through a slideshow and discussion, the students learned about Kakenya Ntaiya’s personal journey to found the Kakenya Center for Excellence and how KCE has transformed the lives of girls in Enoosaen, Kenya. The students asked thoughtful questions that demonstrated their desire to engage in social activism. KEEP thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to share KEEP’s mission with local youth. Learn more about the VOX Summit:

Materials brought by KEEP, the Katonah Education Exchange Program, supporting the Kakenya Center for Excellence, a boarding school that educates and protects at-risk girls in Kenya.

Tennis Fundraiser is a Smashing Success!

Game on! Local women enoyed spirited doubles play for a good cause at the first annual KEEP Invitational. The event was held at the Saw Mill Club in Mount Kisco, NY, last Sunday afternoon, July 23. Donations and raffle tickets raised $850. The funds will more than cover a year’s tuition for two girls in the seventh grade at the Kakenya Center for Excellence.

KEEP Invitational
Saw Mill Club tennis pro Richard Finn with KEEP co-founders (left to right) Cynthia Braun, Elena Rover, Celeste Crosby and Elizabeth McGoldrick

The fun and successful fundraiser was made possible by the enthusiasm and generosity of many people. KEEP appreciates everyone involved: the players, the Saw Mill Club for donating use of the courts, and Saw Mill tennis pro Richard Finn who inspired and directed the event.

KEEP Invitational Scoring
Saw Mill Club tennis pro Richard Finn tallies scores with KEEP co-founder Elizabeth McGoldrick

Five players won fabulous raffle prizes from these generous donors:

KEEP Invitational raffle winners
The raffle winners show off their prizes

The festive afternoon was capped off by Wimbeldon-themed refreshments of Pimm’s Cup and tea sandwiches as well as prizes celebrating top players and humorous achievements.

KEEP Invitational

KEEP is planning to organize a paddle tennis event this winter and hold the second KEEP Invitational in the spring.

2016 Success: Innovative Ideas Raised Thousands for our Girls

Hurrah! We at KEEP are jumping up and down with gratitude to our fabulous supporters! Thanks to your generosity, we reached our 2016 goal to sponsor the tuition for every sixth grade girl at the Kakenya Center for Excellence. A heartfelt, enormous THANK YOU to you all!

A few creative community members dreamed up new ways to support our girls. Three cheers for these resourceful and inspiring donors:

  • Rayna, a seventh grader at John Jay Middle School, baked delicious goodies to fund raise for KEEP as part of her Bat Mitzvah project.
    Rayna at her Bake Sale
  • James Marcotullio and his Model United Nations Club at Pelham Memorial High School collected money for KEEP as part of their MUNC conference activities.
  • Two local women chose to recognize their milestone birthdays by asking for contributions to KEEP in lieu of birthday gifts.
  • Jenn Summer’s Girl Scout Troop selected KEEP as the recipient of their fundraising efforts this year.
    Girl Scouts, Heart of the Hudson, Troop 2179
  • “The Lovely Ladies of the Book Club” in Katonah chose to skip their usual Secret Santa gift exchange in favor of sponsoring a KEEP student.
  • Karli Thea, Maddie Slogoff, Hunter McKendry, and Katherine Corsello donated the proceeds of their lemonade stand sales to KEEP.
    Karli Thea and Maddie Slogoff
  • Rachel Izes honored each of her children’s teachers at KES and JJMS with a holiday contribution to KEEP. Many teachers responded by telling Rachel how honored they were to receive such a meaningful gift. One wrote, “I was touched by your kind, thoughtful and meaningful donation in my name to the Kakenya Center. Literacy for the world and especially for girls is such a terrific cause!”


Contribute by making your donation today.

Kakenya’s Visit to Katonah

On November 3rd, Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya enthralled an enthusiastic crowd at the Katonah Village Library with the story of how she fought against local customs to educate herself, and later establish the first boarding school for girls in her community in rural Kenya. This school, the Kakenya Center for Excellence, has protected every single student – now over 300 girls – from female genital mutilation and child marriage. KEEP couldn’t be more proud to support Kakenya’s mission to educate and empower these girls.


The following day, Students for KEEP at John Jay High School welcomed Kakenya to speak at an assembly of over 150 students. With humor and charm, Kakenya described Maasai culture in rural Kenya and the challenges of attending school in a place where most villagers have no electricity or running water, let alone funds to purchase school books. John Jay students responded with great interest by asking thoughtful questions and eagerly gathering around Kakenya after her talk. A huge thank you to Students for KEEP and JJHS for making this assembly happen!

Students for KEEP with Kakenya
Students for KEEP with Kakenya

We are delighted to report that Kakenya’s visit generated over $2,000 in donations to help the 37 sixth-grade girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence whom KEEP supports. The hard work of fighting gender discrimination could not happen without the dollars so generously given.

Thank You All: The Running Goddess 2016

Dear Friends of KEEP,

Thank you so much for making the fourth annual Running Goddess 5K a huge success! Kids, teens, grown-ups and even a few grandparents powered up Butterfly Hill to cross the finish line with great energy for a terrific cause. It was a fantastic morning!

Race Director Bettina Sementilli has awarded KEEP a fabulous $2,700 to support our girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence. We are delighted and so very grateful. Thank you, Bettina and the entire Running Goddess Team!

Members of Students for KEEP, a club at John Jay High School, volunteered as trail marshals and offered an incredible array of baked goods to race participants. Appreciative runners stuffed the donation jar, chipping in an additional $89 for the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Thank you, Students for KEEP!

Finally, a booming round of applause to the many sponsors who answered KEEP’s call to support the race — we couldn’t have done it without you!

Diane Berman, Houlihan Lawrence
Dr. Erich Braun, Ophthalmologist
CareMount Medical Group
Michael Schechter, Computer Experts
Diana DeCubellis, Genuine Coaching and Consulting
Eye Designs of Armonk
Liz Greene, Katonah Cabinets
Jessica Harris, & James
Katonah Pasta
Pizza Station
Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder, Psychologist
Saw Mill Club
Trustco Bank
Weinstein’s Pharmacy

On behalf of our girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence, we thank you all and wish you a healthy, happy summer!

The KEEP Team
Ruthie Rosenberg, Elena Rover, Celeste Crosby, Elizabeth McGoldrick and Cynthia Braun