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

KCE Alumna Speaks to President Obama

Linet Nenkoitoi, a 16-year-old alumna of KCE, had the chance to speak with President Obama at the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center in Nairobi on July 26, 2015. One of four KCE alumnae invited to meet with the President, Linet compared the story of a friend who was married at 15 and now had two children with her own opportunities, resulting from the safe haven she was given at KCE and the chance to continue her education. Now enrolled at the Pangani Girls High School, she spoke about her aspiration to go on to study cardiology at Harvard. After hearing her speak, the President gave her a hug and said: “I am sure you will be an excellent cardiologist. This sends out a message of what civil society can do. Linet, we are proud of you.”

KCE alumna and President Obama
KCE alumna Linet Nenkoitoi gets a hug from President Obama

Watch Linet and Obama on YouTube

Linet is part of the Network for Excellence, a group of 95 KCE alumnae studying at high schools across the country. During their school holiday this August, the Network for Excellence girls returned to KCE for 10 days of tutoring on homework as well as skills such as selecting subjects, setting goals and maintaining healthy relationships. The sessions were conducted by trained high school teachers hired by KCE to provide mentorship, an investment in the ongoing success of their students. In addition to learning, the visits give the girls a chance to collaborate and share their experiences with each other. They also act as an inspiration to the students currently enrolled at KCE.

Students For KEEP

Students for KEEP Update 2015

Students for KEEP (“SFK”), an official club at John Jay High School since 2012, has been busy spreading the word on the issues girls face in rural Kenya and fundraising to support the tuition of the 5th grade class at the Kakenya Center for Excellence (“KCE”). The club hosted a viewing of Kakenya Ntaiya’s (KCE Founder) Ted Talks video which generated greater understanding and interest in the cause.

In October, SFK Club joined forces with the Feminism Club to attend the screening of He Named Me Malala. Recently, KEEP board members presented a slideshow of past and present projects to SFK members and guests which prompted intuitive questions and conversation. In addition, club members have exchanged pen pal letters with the KCE 5th graders which has helped to create a unique connection between the students. SFK will continue to raise awareness and funds throughout the school year through membership drives, bake sales and by volunteering for the Running Goddess 5K at Lasdon Arboretum in spring.

Newly elected officers voted in this fall include:

  • Adare Cronlin (President)
  • Kayla Medille and Willa Tobin (Vice Presidents)
  • Emma Page (Secretary)
  • Lucy Seigel (Treasurer)
  • Haleigh McCarthy (Historian)

With Noelle Maoriello (SFK Club Advisor) at the helm, SFK will continue to inform and inspire others to “keep girls in school”!

Presbyterian Women

Our Thanks to the Presbyterian Women

On October 15th, KEEP had the pleasure of sharing our slide show presentation with the Presbyterian Women of the First Presbyterian Church of Katonah.

The Presbyterian Women are the inspiring group responsible for the amazing annual Katonah Rummage Sale! All proceeds from the Rummage Sale are donated to charity, and for the past two years, KEEP has been honored to be one of the many recipients of Rummage Sale funds.

After a delicious homemade buffet lunch, KEEP shared the story of our founding, and photos and information about our work in India and Kenya, followed by a brief question and answer session.

Thank you Presbyterian Women for inviting us to share our story, and for your very generous donations!

KEEP Event to see Malala movie

KEEP Event: Malala Movie

On Wednesday, October 14, 2015, over 40 friends of KEEP gathered to watch and discuss the film He Named Me Malala at the Jacob Burns Theater. This film profiles the extraordinary life of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager who survived the Taliban’s attempt to kill her for speaking out on behalf of girls’ education. Subsequently becoming the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Malala now runs the Malala Fund “to ensure every girl has access to 12 years of free, safe, quality primary and secondary education.” Dovetailing with KEEP’s mission, Malala’s goals inspired film attendees and reinforced the importance of supporting the Kakenya Center for Excellence.