Our Story

We first visited the Samburu region in 2005 as university researchers in community-based conservation and natural resources. Over the course of many of those trips,  we were the beneficiaries of the Samburu people’s tremendous hospitality, generosity and goodness. During our visits, we also observed the hard-work ethic of youth. After attending school for eight hours a day, they would return to their villages and continue studying well into the evening.

2012-01-12 at 13-55-24Hard-working students

What struck us about the nightly studying sessions was it was totally self-initiated. There was no teacher, parent or other adult making demands to do homework. They just wanted to learn more and perform well so they could create a promising future. As we got to know the young people better, they asked for help during their nightly studies. We were immersed for a portion of many evenings in math problems, vocabulary lessons and science questions. Sometimes it would last for hours — on a few occasions we would end because at least one of us was falling asleep at the table from so many hours of school work.

Taking a leap

As we continued our conservation research in this region, we continue to witness these young people work diligently toward their education, day in and day out.  We also generally became more acquainted with Kenya’s educational system, and found ourselves at an unsettling crossroads. Secondary school in Kenya is not free. Costs started around $400 annually (and often higher) depending on the school. Here we were, working closely with young people who worked harder in primary school than most people we had ever encountered (including ourselves), which was a behavior we were raised to believe should create opportunities in one’s life.  But we realized that at the completion of 8th grade — the final year of primary school in Kenya — it could be the end of their education since they come from a part of the world where $400 is prohibitively expensive.

So in December 2010, we rallied some friends and family to serve on a board of directors, rallied more friends and family members to host fundraisers and spread the word, and started the Samburu Youth Education Fund. We started with supporting 10 students for the school year that started in January 2011.  Today we support 51 students and another 53 have completed high school. Education is a key investment to achieve a planet that is peaceful, sustainable and in which people can meet their needs. SYEF is one organization working in this realm to help create positive change.


A Samburu community with a critical mass of motivated and inspired young leaders with a commitment to improving their community through locally-driven solutions.


Our mission is to provide equitable opportunities for Samburu youth to enhance their leadership development and problem-solving skills through educational scholarships and civic involvement opportunities.



Education is the most strategic investment for effective and long-term community development and individual empowerment

How education is integrated with our work

We financially support 100% of all school fees for 50+ youth annually. Our U.S.-based and Samburu boards include numerous educators and individuals affiliated with educational institutions, who can make strategic decisions about how to best support our youth academically.

Gender Equity

There is no shortage of research about the benefits of investing in women! As our Samburu board noted, it’s also important to educate young men, to help insure they treat women with respect.

How gender equity is integrated with our work 

At least 50% of SYEF recipients are female.

Non discrimination

A thriving and peaceful community is possible only when opportunities for education are extended equally across gender and ethnic lines

How non discrimination is integrated with our work

SYEF’s process for scholarship selection does not tolerate any consideration for tribal or clan affiliation, and at least 50% of scholarship recipients must be girls

Fiscal responsibility

Impact is maximized when we allocate the most resources to initiatives with direct effects on youth development and leadership.

How fiscal responsibility is integrated with our work

SYEF has allocated at least 90% of its budget directly to program support since it started in 2010.


Trust by our stakeholders is paramount, and earned through communication and full disclosure regarding decision-making and resource allocation.

How transparency is integrated with our work

Bylaws, including rules for scholarship selection, are posted on-line and annually within visible locations around the Samburu community. In addition, SYEF’s annual tax reporting is readily accessible on-line.


  • Adam Beh
  • Brett Bruyere
U.S. Board Members
  • Adam Beh
  • Jen Johnson
  • Nicole Stafford
  • Karina Mullen
Samburu Community Board Members
  • Lucy Karemi
  • Boniface Isigi (co-chair)
  • Malian Lemuna
  • Joseph Erebare Nadaan
  • Samuel Lokato
  • Christine Namnyak (co-chair)
  • Teresia Zainabu
  • Jamal Golicha
  • Vivian Alinta (Program Coordinator)
  • Apin Arik Yasin (Program Director)
  • Kompera Lemiruni