Play some paddle, do some good!

Please join us for our fourth annual Women’s Paddle Tennis Tournament!

Katonah Memorial Park Paddle Tennis Courts
April 12 – 16 (eight players per day)
10:00 – 11:30am

Covid may have altered the format but not the fun!  We’ll play in groups of eight per day for safety (masks required). Refreshments for all and prizes for the paddlers who rack up the most points!  

To register, please go to our online registration form.

Participants will be grouped by ability and assigned one day to play based on player availability. All levels welcome! 
Suggested donation:  $60   

As always, 100% of your fully tax-deductible donation supports tuition for the girls in the eighth-grade class at the Kakenya Center for Excellence. 

Space is limited. Please register ASAP but no later than Friday, April 2nd.

Hope to see you on the courts!

If you have questions, please email

Covid update

November 10, 2020

Many of you have asked how the pandemic has been affecting the girls we support at the Kakenya Center for Excellence. Thank you for your concern!

After meeting recently with Kakenya by videoconference, we have terrific news:

Each and every one of the KEEP-supported girls returned safely to the KCE campus in mid-October. Because of the amazing work of Kakenya and her team, ALL of the 42 eighth graders have been protected from FGM, child marriage, and pregnancy.

When the Kenyan government closed schools in mid-March, KCE students returned to their villages. In this part of rural Kenya, the teen pregnancy rate is 40% and gender-based violence is prevalent. Aware of these dangers, Kakenya’s staff made regular visits to each village. They checked in on every student and delivered essentials such as learning materials, food, and soap, as well as the solar lights and radios that you, our generous KEEP donors, provided for them last spring.

An eighth grader with her supplies (see solar light and radio at left)

In October, the Kenyan government announced that all fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders would return to school, prioritizing these grades because of required national exams. Thrilled to be back at school, the KEEP-supported eighth grade girls are following strict COVID protocols as they resume their studies. COVID testing is not available in this part of Kenya, but students and staff remain on the self-contained campus. We are hopeful they will stay safe.

KCE students back on campus

Although the pandemic has increased operating expenses, KCE has been able to keep all staff on full salary as teachers, administrators, and program staff continue to care for students whether on campus or at home. Of all the important work Kakenya shared with us, we’d like to highlight two exciting new initiatives. This fall, Kakenya’s Dream launched the Linda Dada (“Protect a Sister” in Swahili) Campaign, which aims to combat rising rates of teen pregnancy by developing local leaders’ commitment to girls’ health through discussions, focus groups, and radio broadcasts.

Local chiefs discuss girls’ health

Plans are also underway to build the community’s first youth-friendly health clinic next year! The clinic will deliver comprehensive healthcare, including contraception, to KCE students and local youth. We are pleased to report that friends of KEEP with expertise in this area are advising Kakenya on this project.

As a KEEP donor, you are in good company. Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates recently applauded Kakenya’s work on CNN. Obama and Gates emphasized that we must prioritize adolescent girls’ wellbeing during the pandemic: “When girls are given the chance to learn and thrive, poverty drops, economies grow, families get stronger and babies are born healthier. The world, by every measure, gets better.”

Please consider supporting all this good work with a donation. As always, your donation to KEEP is fully tax-deductible, and every penny supports the eighth grade class at the Kakenya Center for Excellence.

Wishing health and happiness to you and yours!

We did it!

Hurrah!! We did it!! Because of your generosity, boosted by the matching grant, every eighth grade girl at the Kakenya Center for Excellence will receive a solar light and a solar radio! Thank you for your amazing response to our appeal!

Your outpouring of kindness and compassion touched us deeply. We love this image from KEEP supporter Kristen Dorta, whose children created a special jar for KEEP.

This jar of spare change funded lights and radios for 2 girls!

Your gifts are potentially life changing for the KCE girls. The photo at the top of this post is the home of a KCE student, which can give you an idea of the need. With radios, the students will be able to listen to government broadcast instruction while doing their chores. With lights, they will be able to study after sundown.

Continuing to learn while Kenyan schools are closed is especially important for the eighth graders. This fall, their scores on a competitive national exam will determine their placements in high school.  

KCE continues to pay teachers and staff their full salaries as they deliver care packages of food, supplies, and books to each student. Quite a few students did not have a safe home to return to, but Kakenya and her staff managed to arrange secure living situations for all of them. This dedication to the welfare of each and every girl is just one reason we love our partnership with KCE!

The KEEP community has gone above and beyond to help the KCE girls through this crisis. Thank you for rising to the challenge! You are a shining beacon of hope during a difficult time.

Stay well everyone!

Almost there!

We’ve had an amazing response to our recent appeal for the girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence!  Your generosity, boosted by a matching grant, has enabled us to fund solar-powered lights and radios for 33 of the 42 eighth grade girls!

The home of a KCE student who will receive a solar light and radio to enable learning

We need to raise just $270 more in order to provide these simple yet potentially life changing devices to each and every eighth grader.

Let’s give these girls the opportunity to prepare for their national exams even while they are away from KCE due to the pandemic.

A donation of $30 will be matched to provide a light and a radio for one girl.

Donations of any amount are always appreciated, and all donations are fully tax-deductible.

Thank you for your tremendous generosity during this challenging time!

Social Activism Keep Girls in School

Update + an Urgent Need!

Many of you have asked how the girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence are doing. Here’s an update as well as an exciting opportunity to help.

When the Kenyan government ordered all schools closed in March, KCE students returned to their homes. Now all the KCE students are “distance learning” – which is especially challenging without reliable electricity and internet access! But the KCE staff is making every effort, traveling to each student’s village to deliver books as well as care packages of basic necessities, such as food, sanitary pads and soap.

This commitment to supporting each and every girl exemplifies what we love about KCE:  Kakenya and her staff care for their students like family, even under the most difficult of circumstances.

The KEEP-supported eighth grade girls, however, face an extra challenge: This fall, they must take the government exam required to gain admission to high school. They will be competing against eighth graders nationwide, many of whom will have had greater access to test preparation resources.

Worried about this predicament, we asked Kakenya, “How can we help?” She immediately replied, “Solar-powered radios and lights!” While KEEP will continue to cover full tuition for the eighth grade class, we would also love to provide each girl with a radio and a light!

With a $30 radio, a girl can listen to government-broadcast instruction while she is gathering water and firewood. With a $30 light, she can study after sundown when she has finished her chores. These simple devices will enable the eighth graders to prepare for their national exams even while they are away from KCE. 

And we have AMAZING news about fulfilling this need: Thanks to the generosity of a private foundation, KEEP will match every donation made toward this effort! 

A donation of $30 will be matched to provide a radio and a light to one girl.

A donation of $60 will be matched to provide radios and lights to two girls.

A donation of $90 will be matched to provide radios and lights to 
three girls.

Let’s show the girls KEEP is committed to helping them through this crisis!

As always, donations of any amount are always appreciated, and all donations are fully tax-deductible.

Thank you for your generosity during this challenging time! Together, we will help the girls overcome yet more adversity – surviving and even thriving despite difficult circumstances.  We couldn’t do it without you!

With gratitude,
Cynthia Braun, Celeste Crosby, Elizabeth McGoldrick, Ruthie Rosenberg and Elena Rover

P.S. This need is urgent. Please consider donating today.

3rd Annual Play for KEEP event

Please join us for our third annual Women’s Paddle Tennis Tournament at the beautiful Waccabuc Country Club!

Thursday, February 27th
10 am – 12 noon
(Warm-ups begin at 9:45)

Rain date:  Thursday, March 5th

 Waccabuc Country Club – 90 Mead Street, Waccabuc

The players at the 2nd Annual Play for KEEP event in 2019

Enjoy an invigorating morning of round robin doubles play under the direction of paddle tennis pro Richard Finn, then gather around the fire in the Carriage House for refreshments, prizes and a raffle. Win a massage, a private tennis lesson, and more!

Players will be grouped by ability for even match play.  All abilities welcome!

Suggested donation:  $60

Your fully tax-deductible donation will cover two months of tuition for one of the eighth grade girls supported by KEEP at the Kakenya Center for Excellence.

To register, please email us at  Space is limited.

We hope to see you there!
Cynthia Braun, Celeste Crosby, Elizabeth McGoldrick, Ruthie Rosenberg and Elena Rover

Nov 15: Party for the Planet

Come learn why educating girls is one of the leading ways to combat climate change.

Please join us on November 15th for an exciting event.

Enjoy music by Marc Black. Earth-friendly fare and libations are being donated by local purveyors:
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.
Cask Fine and Rare Wines
DeCicco Family Markets
Good Hope Farm
Greenway Market
Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard
La Tulipe
Nisa Lee Events
Phat Olive
Vine and Co.

Smiling with Nicholas Kristof, literally

This week has KEEP’s board members smiling! That’s us in the photo: Cynthia Braun, Elena Rover, Celeste Crosby, Ruthie Rosenberg and Elizabeth McGoldrick.

Who’s that man in the middle? It’s Nicholas Kristof, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist from The New York Times who co-authored Half the Sky, the book that inspired us to found KEEP. Kristof has written about some of the biggest atrocities in the world, and yet somehow he keeps smiling. His optimism and warmth were center stage at Grace Farms on Saturday when he interviewed Nobel Prize winner Denis Mukwege, a pastor and physician who treats women who are victims of horrific sexual violence in the Congo.

KEEP arranged an outing for supporters and board members, with 20 people attending the session. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Saturday’s event raised more than $1,100!  This amount will cover the annual tuition for three of our KEEP-supported girls at the Kakenya Center for Excellence, ensuring that they continue their education, avoiding female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Everyone who attended the event in New Canaan, CT, agreed that the talk was intense. Titled “Ending Violence Against Women”, it covered the assassination attempt on Dr. Mukwege, the murder of his protege, the precariousness of women’s lives, the impact of repeated violence on women and their community and more. Kristof brought home the remarkable effect this one man has had on the lives of so many women. And we learned about his choice to return to the country where his life is at risk so he can continue his work.

Feeling subdued after the talk, KEEP’s board had an encounter that returned the smiles to our faces: A chance to connect with Kristof. He generously signed copies of Half the Sky and posed for photos. We told him that the book was the seed that grew into KEEP, which to date has generated more than $100,000 in donations from our generous supporters, with 100% going directly to help girls.

Today, we had another reason to smile: Kristof wrote about the event in his weekly newsletter for The New York Times and included a glowing mention of KEEP! Take a look:

KCE girls visit the US

For the second straight year, four eighth-grade KCE girls participated in the Montessori Model United Nations conference in New York City from February 13-16. Moreene, Abigael, Caroline and Sylvia made not only their first visit to the United States, but their first trip outside of Kenya! Once again we thank KEEP supporter Andy Greene, who leads the MMUN team at the Whitby School, for making this incredible dream a reality. The girls served on the Social, Humanitarian and Culture Committee and helped draft two exciting human rights resolutions. Moreene and Abigael even represented Kenya at the conference!

The KCE girls enjoyed some sightseeing in New York and Washington, including visits to the Empire State Building and the Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. memorials. They have now returned safely to Kenya, dedicated to becoming champions of justice and equality. Please click here to view an inspiring three minute video about their visit.

Building their first snowman ever

Second Annual Paddle Tournament

On February 7th, two dozen women filled the paddle tennis courts at the beautiful Waccabuc Country Club for a morning of spirited play.  Between games, players gathered for conversation and refreshments around a roaring fire in the cozy Carriage House.

Thanks to the generosity of participants, and even some women who were unable to attend, we raised a whopping $2,160 for the Kakenya Center for Excellence!

Fundraising included a raffle, including generous donations of a massage from Irene Marks, L.M.T., at Healing Hands of Thyme at the Katonah Healing Arts Alliance and a tennis lesson from Richard Finn of the Saw Mill Club.

These funds will cover the annual tuition for six of our KEEP-supported eighth grade girls. Special thanks to tournament “master” and paddle pro Richard Finn, Waccabuc General Manager John Assuma, and our Waccabuc member sponsors. We couldn’t have done it without you!

As always, we wish a heartfelt thank you to all of our donors for your unflagging support and enthusiasm for educating girls!  The world is a better place because of your kindness.