Knowledge Empowering Youth (KEY) designs, donates, and implements turnkey public school libraries in Kenya. As the first program of its kind in Kenya, KEY is dedicated to giving every school-aged child access to books and to championing education as the path to prosperity, justice, and democracy.
KEY’s award-winning libraries are created after carefully considering the specific interests, attributes, and needs of the local community. Some KEY libraries are made from refurbished shipping containers, while others are new-build school libraries or refurbished classrooms. Each library is outfitted to ensure a safe, clean, and comfortable environment that promotes learning and positive values. Critical to the success and sustainability of the program is KEY’s operational approach, which empowers students, teachers, and parents to get involved and ensure the libraries are used effectively and efficiently. Access to a KEY library provides students with an enriching educational experience and an opportunity to develop a strong, confident globally-minded voice.
As a lawyer and Kenyan native, I have always been aware of the transformative power of language, reading and a well-rounded education. It has been a very personal goal of mine to ensure children have the knowledge they need to shape and transform their own destinies.”
KEY was founded by Rita Field-Marsham in 2004. What started as a simple idea to create a small library for a single primary school has grown into an ambitious vision with national reach. Realizing what an impact one library could have, Rita felt a responsibility to organize her efforts and harness the enthusiasm and support of others. In addition to building 35 libraries, KEY has worked in partnership with the Kenya Law Reform Commission, Kenya Library Association, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture, The Goethe Institute and NGOs in education. Together, they drafted Kenya’s first National Policy and Guidelines Framework for School Libraries as a road map for building and monitoring 30,922 more libraries in Kenya. KEY operates as a Canadian registered charity and covers 100% of its expenses.