KenSAP began in 2004 as an informal effort on the part of its two founders, Mike Boit and John Manners. Dr. Boit, a professor at Kenyatta University, sought out a half-dozen highly promising high school graduates from educationally neglected areas in western Kenya. Mr. Manners, a semi-retired journalist, came to Kenya to prepare the students for the SAT and familiarize them with the college application process. When five of the six college candidates were admitted to highly competitive colleges with full financial aid, the two founders realized that they had started something.
The following year the program came to the attention of Charles Field-Marsham, a Canadian investor with business interests in Kenya. He offered financial support, which has enabled the program to conduct two extended residential training sessions for each new group of college candidates. Mr. Field-Marsham’s backing has also enabled KenSAP to pay for its students’ test and application fees and to continue to provide various forms of support for the successful college candidates once they reach North America.
Mike Boit and John Manners have known each other since Mike was a Kenyan high school student and John a Peace Corps teacher. Mike is now Professor of Sports Science at Nairobi’s Kenyatta University, having won an Olympic medal at 800 meters, earned three degrees in the US, and served as Kenya’s Commissioner of Sports for seven years. John is a journalist who spent 18 years as a writer and editor in various branches of Time Inc. and maintained his connection with Kenya by developing a sideline covering the exploits of its runners. They jointly conceived of KenSAP to try to extend opportunity to educationally neglected parts of Kenya.