Why we're so Passionate.
How this started
In 2008, one of the founding members named Mark and a team from the University of Wisconsin started an Engineers Without Borders project in a rural farming village outside of Kisumu. During this trip and following trips, Mark grew fond of a 7th grader named Kennedy who was an orphan living outside Kisumu. Luckily Mark was close with a philanthropist in the area named Joseph who would be able to help take care of Kennedy's needs while Mark was back in the U.S. This first sponsorship grew into more over the years, and now we have a solid, consistent, growing operation.
How we're different
It was eye opening to find out how far $325/year goes. We have all heard the campaigns and ads boasting about feeding a child for just $1/day. But here we were, spending less than that, and providing not only food but also tuition, exam fees, books, supplies, and clothes. It appears we stumbled on to something. After digging into the financials of other orphan sponsorship non-profits, we were shocked to learn that a huge portion and often a vast majority of compensation for U.S. based employees were considered "Project Expenses". So when they boast that 87% of their donations go direclty to their projects, they are including the salaries of their relatively expensive U.S. employees in this 87%. This is why it was simply not possible for them to provide as much for their students as we've been able to.
We think we've found a solution. We've shifted the model so that the normally expensive labor is now carried out primarly by passionate volunteers. Our U.S. team is composed of folks well off enough that we do not need personal income from Our Pioneers, and our on-the-ground team in Kenya is able to implement these services in an extremely cost effective manner.
So instead of your donations flowing into the pockets of the Our Pioneers employees, these donations flow directly to the on-the-ground implementation of our programs.