The Salikenni Scholarship Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
dedicated to increasing opportunity for education
in one cluster of villages in a rural area of
The Gambia in West Africa.
When Don and Alison May started the Salikenni Scholarship Fund (SSF) in 1996 they had a simple goal: to improve access to education for young people in the Salikenni region of The Gambia, in West Africa.
Since then, starting in the 7th grade, hundreds of students from Salikenni and the nearby villages of Dobo, Mandori, and Bani have benefitted from SSF. Some have made it just a few years before family demands have drawn them back to the farm, but the majority have moved on to secondary school. Many of our older students live in SSF’s campus in Serrekunda, a suburb of Banjul, the Gambian capital, and a growing number are pursuing studies beyond secondary school. As of December 2018, we have 119 active students in the program, 27 of whom are enrolled in college or other post-secondary programs. With the generosity of several anonymous donors, one SSF student has completed a master’s in accounting in Rome and a second is attending college in Minnesota.
Our former students are now accountants, journalists, doctors, and nurses. In a “pay it forward” approach, in 2012 a group of recent graduates established a governance and operating structure to ensure that future generations can receive the same benefits that they did; with our oversight, this team now runs the program on a local basis.
There is nothing tangible that makes SSF students stand out—they don’t have t-shirts, or patches, or special backpacks to distinguish them—but they all share a hunger for education and an enthusiastic appreciation for the opportunities that SSF provides them and their families.
As we read the stories of the students in our program, we can’t help but notice how similar their goals are to those of kids we know—they just don’t have the same chances for success.