Who We Are

Shining Hope for Communities is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 2009 by CEO Kennedy Odede and COO Jessica Posner. Kennedy grew up and lived in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya for 23 of his 26 years.

There, he saw the bleak prospects for women first-hand. After seeing many women’s lives crushed like those of his mother and sisters’, Kennedy dreamed of finding a way to change the position of women in his society.

Shining Hope for Communities is composed of an extremely diverse and experienced coalition of local community members, leaders in international development practice, university students, and grassroots supporters.

Kennedy is a current student at Wesleyan University and has combined his lived experience as a community organizer in Kibera with his elite college education to create an organization that is truly one of a kind. All of Shining Hope for Communities’ work is inspired and overseen by local community members in Kibera.

Jessica and Kennedy were awarded the prestigious 2010 Echoing Green Fellowship, which is given to the world’s best emerging social entrepreneurs. They have received support for their work from Newman’s Own Foundation and won the international 2010 Dell Social Innovation Competition. DoSomething.org and VH1 recognized Jessica as America’s “Top World Changer 25 & Under.”

President Bill Clinton selected Kennedy to speak on a panel with him about effective grassroots solutions. Shining Hope has also received widespread media acclaim that includes features on NBC Nightly News, CNN and in The New York Times.

Together with our students, staff, and community members are leading the way to a better tomorrow for themselves, their families, their community—and for all of us. We work hard and think big because we believe that everyone, everywhere deserves a chance to hope.


We combat intergenerational cycles of poverty and gender inequality by linking tuition-free schools for girls to essential social services for all through a holistic, community-driven approach. By concretely linking essential health and economic services to a school for girls, we demonstrate that benefiting women benefits the whole community, cultivating a community ethos that makes women respected members of society.

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