Newman's Own Commits $800K to our Students!

Some of our Kibera School for Girls students with Linda and Bob Forrester, the President and CEO of Newman's Own Foundation. The picture was taken this summer when the girls were here for leadership programs.

Some of our Kibera School for Girls students with Linda and Bob Forrester, the President and CEO of Newman's Own Foundation. The picture was taken this summer when the girls were here for leadership programs.

In honor of the International Day of the Girl, Newman’s Own Foundation has pledged $800,000 over five years, to further SHOFCO’s work empowering and educating girls in Kenyan slums.

Newman’s Own is one of the organizations the White House recognized yesterday for making a new commitment to Let Girls Learn - an initiative launched by First Lady, Michelle Obama, to fight for girls' education globally. We are so proud to be a Newman's Own partner; they were one of SHOFCO’s first major funders and they have provided unwavering support in the past six years.

Our Kibera School for Girls students are entering their final year as eight graders in January. But, with this new commitment from Newman’s Own, SHOFCO will be able to provide the exceptional support our girls need well into high school.

To learn more about our Kibera School for Girls, click here. For more information on the $800,000 commitment, read below for a full press release:

Newman's Own Foundation today announced a $1 million commitment to support the education of girls, aimed at helping them to reach their full potential without discrimination or barriers. $200,000 has been granted to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. An additional grant of $800,000 over five years is being made to Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), which runs the Kibera and Mathare Schools for Girls in Kenya, so girls may continue their education through high school.

The International Day of the Girl was established to recognize the need to educate young girls and empower them to overcome the complex physical, cultural, and financial barriers in accessing education. When girls are educated, they lead healthier and more productive lives with skills and knowledge that help them break the cycle of poverty and strengthen their communities.

Newman's Own Foundation began funding SHOFCO in Kibera, one of Africa's largest slums, in 2010 as the earliest major philanthropic investor, and has continued support which has helped educate girls, first grade through eighth grade. The Foundation's commitment of $800,000 will help the girls continue their education beyond eighth grade, supporting scholarships and enrichment programs, principally at high schools and colleges in the U.S. and abroad.

The Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund will use the Foundation's grant to help educate adolescent girls with community-led solutions in various parts of the world. Let Girls Learn is a U.S. government initiative launched by the President and First Lady that helps girls attain a quality education that they deserve.

"Newman's Own Foundation is proud to support efforts to help girls learn, encouraging them to dream and reach their full potential," said Bob Forrester, President and CEO of Newman's Own Foundation. "We join First Lady Michelle Obama in the effort to raise awareness around the need to educate girls."  

Forrester added, "In the years that we've supported SHOFCO, we've seen a transformation of the girls who came from horrid conditions in the slum and became educated, talented, and hopeful for the future. The Peace Corps empowers local leaders around the world to put lasting solutions in place. We see that education and opportunity open doors for a better life, and we're confident that our grants will help empower young girls to achieve more.


Press release courtesy of

Schooner Foundation Announces $1M Matching Challenge

For Immediate Release
Contact: Susan Varghese,



The Schooner Foundation Extends a $1 Million Matching Challenge to Support CGI Commitment



Nairobi, Kenya- To commemorate the end of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), the Schooner Foundation announces a $1 million multi-year pledge to support and expand the work being done by CGI partner and nonprofit organization, Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO).  

Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) gathers leaders around the world to address the world’s most urgent problems. Every year, people make new  Commitments to Action —  precise and measurable plans for addressing global challenges. Though CGI is coming to a close, SHOFCO’s commitment to transforming urban poverty in Kenya’s slums is not.

In support of SHOFCO’s commitment, the Schooner Foundation is offering a matching challenge to garner support and drive the organization's mission forward. The Schooner Foundation is deeply invested in entrepreneurial solutions to social problems - which is what SHOFCO was founded on.

Schooner Foundation Senior Advisor and Trustee, Cynthia Ryan, said, “Rarely does a foundation find a partner with the local knowledge and support that Kennedy and Jessica Odede have from the Kibera community.  Add to this their holistic approach to development, their commitment to excellence and their courage to try creative and cutting edge approaches to their work and the decision to support them with financial and human capital is a no brainer.  We are honored to be part of the SHOFCO family and hope other donors will join us as partners for Shining Hope for Communities”.

The Schooner Foundation is offering the match around this momentous time of collective leadership to encourage others to come forward and match their gift. They will match a total donation of up to $1 million.





Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) combats gender inequality and extreme poverty in urban slums by linking tuition free schools for girls to essential services for all. The services include health clinics, access to clean water and empowerment programs. The SHOFCO model elevates girls while connecting community transformation to women's empowerment.

About The Schooner Foundation

The Schooner Foundation is a foundation focused internationally on human rights, peace & security and economic opportunity issues. Domestically, the Foundation supports progressive media, campaign finance reform, the green economy, investigative reporting and judicial reform. They seek to honor human dignity and to act where they see the greatest need and opportunities to leverage their funds domestically and globally.




Madonna and Katie Lowes Visit SHOFCO!

Over Fourth of July weekend, Madonna and her children came to Kibera and participated in painting and awesome community clean up projects. We're thankful for her support and efforts! See more of her photos from her trip here.

Over Fourth of July weekend, Madonna and her children came to Kibera and participated in painting and awesome community clean up projects. We're thankful for her support and efforts! See more of her photos from her trip here.

A few weeks ago, Katie Lowes, a star on the ABC series "Scandal" and her husband and actor, Adam Shapiro, visited Kibera. We're so grateful for their support! See photos from their trip here.

A few weeks ago, Katie Lowes, a star on the ABC series "Scandal" and her husband and actor, Adam Shapiro, visited Kibera. We're so grateful for their support! See photos from their trip here.

A Special Mother's Day Letter from our CEO

As a kid living in the slums of Kibera, I remember our family spending two days without food. My mother was able to get some porridge, but just enough for me and my siblings. Though she was probably starving, I witnessed love in her eyes as my sister and I had it - down to the last sip. I'll never forget that, especially because her journey in life was far from easy.

My mother was just 15 when she had me - a breech baby - in a remote village in Kenya. Born into poverty and with no access to proper healthcare, the odds were stacked high against us. There's only one difference between my story and the stories of countless mothers without access to maternal care: luck.

We were lucky we survived.

I refuse to have "luck" be the determining factor for women and babies living in the slums.  We started the Maternal Care and Health Program at SHOFCO to ensure that the women in our communities get the care they need, and together, we can continue to make that happen. It's not too late to join our special Mother's Day Campaign to help women just like my mom. 

And, to all of the extraordinary mothers that keep the world turning, gappy Mother's Day!


 - Kennedy Odede


Kennedy Odede Reflects on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Legacy

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

SHOFCO Co-Founder and CEO, Kennedy Odede, attributes his community building and leadership skills to many inspirational activists, but one of the most influential has been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  In honor of Dr. King’s legacy and birthday, we asked Kennedy what Dr. King meant to him and to SHOFCO.


Q: How has Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. influenced your life?  

A: I was inspired by Dr. King, by his struggle and the idea of people coming together to change their own lives. Growing up in Kibera, young people were so sad and angry at the system that some of my friends turned to gangs as a way to fight back. Being able to learn the ideology of Dr. King was very powerful for me - this thing called “nonviolence.” I learned that people can come together and talk about issues and fight for civil justice without violence. My buddies who became gangsters were not bad people, but this was the only way they knew how to show their anger. They're in the slums having a hard time, therefore violence seemed to be the only way. But, Dr. King showed me something different.


Q: How can we use his teachings to solve some of our current problems?  

A: Dr. King believed in people and stood up against injustice everywhere; he talked about civil rights issues affecting America, but he also spoke of poverty around the world.  Right now, with all the things happening around the world, there are still many people afraid to speak up. We need to remember the teachings of Dr. King and that no matter the problem, if we come together we can solve it.


Q: What are some of Dr. King’s principles and values that resonated with you most? Why?

A: I don’t think most people understand Dr. King very well. He stood for nonviolence, but that man was tough. Dr. King was propelled by urgency. I love the idea that there is no other time to fight injustice - the time is now. This is something I remembered when I bought a used soccer ball for 20 cents to try and unite my community. He was way ahead of his time. He was very strong, passionate and believed in social justice for all. All of this really stayed with me.


Q: You've cited Marcus Garvey, Rosa Parks, and Nelson Mandela as some of your other role models. What do you think Dr. King had in common with them?

A: One thing I love about these men and women were that they were fearless and they were selfless.  They were really willing to sacrifice their life for what they believed in. Right now, we have leaders around the world who are too concerned with self-interest. But, for Marcus Garvey, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, and Dr. King, the interest of humanity came first in their life and then it was themselves.


Q: In your memoir, Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss and Hope in an African Slum, you mention one of your favorite Dr. King quotes to be: “Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Why this one? How can everyone in Kibera and Mathare apply his words to their life?

A: I love this. It always reminded me that you don't need to be rich to be great and it doesn’t matter if you’re poor. Your circumstances don’t matter. Anybody can have an impact; you just have to do your part.


Q: If you had a chance to ask Dr. King anything, what would it be?

A: This is tough. I’d want to ask:  Despite all those challenges you faced, what was your driving force? What kept you moving?

He overcame so much. How did Dr. King remain true to himself despite those obstacles and negative people? He was a true leader that the world could greatly benefit from now.


Q: Is there Anything else you would like to add about Dr. King?

Every time I feel down, I go back to his words and it replenishes my energy and purpose. Thank you, Dr. King!



Update on Daily Nation Article

July 2016

You may have heard about the false – and now withdrawn – article that ran on a Kenyan newspaper website. 

Our financial information is publicly available on our website, yet the reporter used inaccurate numbers.  SHOFCO is compliant in all countries where we operate and we know of no investigation.  The newspaper has removed the fabricated story from its website.