Empowering Access: The Transformative Role of Philanthropy in Higher Education

In an age where the value of education is paramount yet often beyond financial reach for many, philanthropy emerges as a guiding light, closing the divide between ambition and accessibility. At the forefront of this noble pursuit stands Strathmore University, a beacon of inclusive learning since its inception in the early 1960s as East Africa’s pioneering multi-racial educational institution. Throughout its storied history, the unwavering dedication to nurturing talent and fostering inclusivity has remained a cornerstone of Strathmore’s ethos.

Amid this environment characterized by dedication and advancement, numerous members of the Strathmore community have been instrumental in advancing the university’s mission. With a rich legacy spanning decades, Strathmore has consistently surged ahead, spurred on by the relentless endeavors of dedicated individuals such as James Kimeu, the former director of Strathmore University Foundation.


In a recent interview, Kimeu illuminated some of the remarkable milestones achieved by the university’s foundation office in its pursuit of educational accessibility.


James Kimeu’s tenure at the Strathmore University Foundation is a testament to the profound impact of strategic philanthropy in higher education. Reflecting on his four-year journey, he highlights a remarkable trajectory of growth and engagement. “When I joined the foundation, we had about 500 donors,” he shares. “Today, we boast over 3000 individual donors, a testament to the growing recognition of the importance of supporting bright and needy students.”

Dr. Vincent Ogutu, the Vice Chancellor, graciously accepts a series of cheques from diverse partners and students, all contributing towards advancing education at SU.


The surge in donor participation underscores a fundamental shift in perspective, where individuals recognize the power of their contributions in shaping the future trajectory of aspiring scholars. Through collaborative efforts with partners, alumni, and friends of the university, Strathmore has expanded its reach beyond Kenya, establishing alumni chapters across the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and South Africa. This global network not only amplifies fundraising efforts but also fosters a sense of community and belonging among alumni worldwide.

Dr. Vincent Ogutu, the Vice Chancellor, on a recent journey to the USA accompanied by James Kimeu to reestablish connections with numerous partners and alumni of Strathmore University.

However, the impact of philanthropy extends far beyond fundraising figures. Kimeu emphasizes the profound ripple effects witnessed within the university community. “We’ve engaged our staff, students, and alumni in various initiatives, from staff giving forums to student-led campaigns such as Elimisha Stratizen,” he explains. Such initiatives not only cultivate a culture of giving but also foster a deeper sense of ownership and pride in the institution’s mission.

One hallmark of this collaborative spirit is the Vice-Chancellor’s run, an annual event that has evolved into a university-wide celebration, raising significant funds while uniting students, staff, and alumni in a shared cause. “From less than 200 participants to over 600, and from raising 400,000 to nearly 3 million in 2023, the impact of this event transcends monetary value,” Kimeu remarks. It symbolizes a collective commitment to advancing the university’s mission of accessibility and excellence.

The annual run hosted by the Strathmore Vice Chancellor has evolved into a highly anticipated event, drawing fitness enthusiasts eager to run for a cause.

Yet, philanthropy is not merely about financial contributions but stewardship and engagement. The Strathmore University Foundation exemplifies this ethos through initiatives like donor stewardship, where contributors are invited to gala dinners to witness firsthand the transformative power of their support. “It’s about sharing our progress, expressing gratitude, and inviting continued collaboration,” Kimeu affirms.

Ultimately, Kimeu’s call to action resonates as a rallying cry for collective action and shared responsibility. “Strathmore’s impact is tangible and far-reaching,” he asserts. “Whether through community service, academic excellence, or values-driven leadership, the university’s legacy is profound.” By engaging alumni, staff, students, and friends in this noble cause, the vision of an inclusive and empowered educational landscape becomes not just a possibility but a reality.


As James Kimeu aptly concludes, “Get involved; be a part of this journey. Whether it’s running with the Vice-Chancellor, sharing your ideas, or simply lending your support, together, we can open doors and transform lives.”

Help make a difference in a bright and deserving student’s life by providing access to quality education. Reach out to us at SUF@strathmore.edu to learn how you can get involved!


Watch James’ interview here


The article was originally published here

Article written by: Victor Anyura

Video credits: Zipporah Wanjohi