Sponsorship at Ndoto is a two-way partnership between a sponsor and a student, with Ndoto at the center. Ndoto selects high-potential and needy students in Kenya annually, and begins to support them. Then we bring their photos to the US and look for caring people to sponsor them.
When a sponsor signs up, they are joining Ndoto in providing education and discipleship to a student. They are committing to donate a monthly amount in the support of that student. Of course, the sponsorship amount may be given monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually, and sometimes even all at once. We can facilitate that by credit card or check and send reminder emails as necessary. The amount that a student needs represents approximately what Ndoto estimates is necessary for that student, typically based on their grade level.
pays for a primary day school sponsorship.
pays for primary boarding school or secondary day school sponsorships.
pays for a secondary boarding school sponsorship.
pays for college (associates degree) or vocational training sponsorships.
pays for a university (bachelor’s degree) sponsorship.
Annual Letter Exchange
Sponsors have one more important task each year – our annual letter exchange. We carry physical letters from Kenya to the US for the sponsors, and then ask each sponsor to write back to their student. Many enclose photos, life updates, prayer requests, and questions about life in Kenya. We often hear from our sponsors that this is one of their favorite parts of sponsorship. We carry these physical letters to Kenya and give them to the students, at which point they respond and the process begins again.
Contact us about being a letter-only pen pal if financial sponsorship isn’t something you can do right now!
This is not just a relationship where sponsors give and give, however. In addition to annual letters and photos from their students, our students sign a covenant committing to doing their best in school, developing their character, and reaching for their dreams. Ndoto shares key information on the student with the sponsor, including academic performance. Many of our sponsors feel the pride of a parent for their student’s accomplishments and keep their photos on the fridge next to their own kids!
Sponsorship pays for the education and discipleship of the Ndoto students. Specifically, it covers mandatory school fees and necessary expenses such as books, uniforms, and supplies, and graduation fees. It also covers their overall welfare, included in our holistic discipleship program. We look after their physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and even social wellbeing. This includes things like retreats, Christmas parties, basic medical care, our Kenyan staff, and more. Our staff provides personalized care to all of the students. 100% of sponsorship donations go to Kenya.
In accordance with US tax law, all sponsorship donations go into a distinct fund, which is only for sponsorship expenses. We cannot track donations directly to individual students. Expenditures for individual students vary widely, and the amounts given as sponsorship levels are averages that ensure all students are cared for appropriately. We also maintain a cushion to ensure that students stay in school and in case of sudden emergencies.
Since we have students in our program from kindergarten to the university level, there are different needs, requirements, and costs for each. Some students attend day school, while others attend boarding school. Our decisions are made collaboratively with each student and family in the best interests of all. As students get older, the costs typically increase, and sponsors can expect that as their students move from 8th grade to high school, and from high school to post-secondary education, Ndoto will offer opportunities to increase their donations accordingly. Increasing is not required. Some students are co-sponsored by multiple supporters, reducing the total amount needed for an older student.
Please notify a member of the Ndoto US staff before responding. We highly value your privacy. Therefore, we tell our students not to contact their sponsors directly. Please remember that English is our students’ third language and thus there is a high chance of miscommunication. For example, we once had a student graduate from high school and our sponsor wrote that they would always support her. We love the sponsor’s intent but the student took that to mean that they would always receive financial support. The policies that we have at Ndoto have been designed over a decade of doing this work and represent both our sponsors’ and students’ best interests. For the students’ long-term development we have learned that we need to be an intermediary. Please do not attempt to contact your student directly.
Ndoto students may be out of school for a variety of reasons, including normal holidays, teacher strikes, temporary issues such as illness or family emergency, or normal transition between high school and college. During these times, we need sponsors to keep donating because our staff is still working with the students, especially when they are at home. Our discipleship program never stops. Additionally, all schools require the entire semester’s payment up front, so we average the entire cost over 12 months and save up for it. Schools also do not issue refunds, so if a student misses class or the teachers go on strike, Ndoto still has to pay.
We do not try to compete with other sponsorship organizations – if the Lord leads you to a different one, that is fantastic. We know many of them, especially in our area, and are glad that they do the work they do. At Ndoto, we are deeply committed to our students and have ample staff that builds personal relationships with each. We try to meet their needs holistically – physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. We also know that it is rare for other sponsorship organizations to continue to support or accept students in post-secondary education because it can be expensive. This is important to us, however, because many of our students deserve a chance at it and could never afford it on their own.
Our goal is for all of our students to graduate at the end of high school. However, sometimes students leave the program at other times for various reasons. Some fail to rise to meet Ndoto’s standards of behavior and character. Some withdraw from the program of their own accord because their goals change or their family begins to be able to financially support them, opening a spot for a new needy student. Sometimes, a student struggles academically and leaving school for a vocational route is a wise long-term decision. We have even had situations where students decide to leave school to support their families through exceptional crises. In all of these situations, Ndoto works closely with the student and the family to do what is best for the student, even if that means removing them from the program. Since Ndoto was founded, about 8% of our students have been asked to leave the sponsorship program.
When a student leaves the program for any reason, we’ll contact you as soon as possible and we hope that you’ll continue to give the same support and hope to a new student. Most of our sponsors continue with us even as their students graduate or move on. Our sponsor retention rate has averaged 93% annually since Ndoto was founded.
Absolutely! We love having visitors in Kenya and we will work with you to make sure that your student is available, though we may try to make sure you can come when the student is on a break so that we aren’t taking them out of school. Learn more on our Visit page.
Yes you can! In general, we discourage our students from asking for things in their letters to sponsors, and in Kenya we ensure that students' basic needs are provided for. However, we do allow sponsors to send small gifts to their students if they feel so moved! Our students love receiving gifts and packages from the US!
Remember that everything our sponsors send has to travel in people's suitcases, so they may be delayed in getting to students and they need to be smaller and lighter. Additionally, gifts need to stay on the modest side. Our students do not have a lot of personal possessions, so large packages with multiple gifts can be overwhelming or attract attention, and we also try to keep perceptions of “favorites” down. We will open and inspect all gifts sent to students, and if a gift is too large for a particular student, we may divide it up among several.
Here are a few suggestions that our Kenyan staff has recommended for different age groups!
Primary School (Kindergarten - 8th Grade) (can we set these as collapsible inside collapsible?)
- Pencils, Sharpener, Erasers
- Picture of sponsor and family
Secondary School (9th - 12th Grade)
- Books (Biographies)
- Picture of sponsor/Picture Frame
- Backpack (Ndoto provides backpacks for grade school students)
- Picture/Picture Frame