Youth Thinking Big

When Kelsey Short returned from Kenya in the summer of 2007, she had made up her mind: She was going to start her own nonprofit.

The problem, however, was that she was only beginning her senior year at Santa Barbara High. Instead, she opted to start small. For the past few months, 17-year-old Short has been organizing a 5K run/walk to raise money for scholarships for African children.

I think it’s great that in America we have the opportunity to go to school,” Short said. “Where I went, if they didn’t have the money, they didn’t have the opportunity.”

Short first became interested in education fundraising when she took a community service trip to Peru with her family a few years ago.

That’s where I got the desire to help children and give them education,” she said.

That desire was then cemented with her trip to Kenya.

All of the children made an imprint on my mind,” she says. “They were always outside the school thanking us. It was heartbreaking.”

Upon her return, she began her search for nonprofit groups benefiting education in Africa. She then contacted Global Partners, an international development group based in Rohnert Park, California. They gave her the idea for the race and are organizing it in conjunction with Short.

Catherine Kirby, COO of Global Partners, says the company values working with young people like Short. “It’s important that the youth of today understand the power they can make in the future,” Kirby said. “Kelsey is an example of that. She is really a remarkable person.”

Global Partners currently provides 350 scholarships in Africa. With Short’s help, they hope to make it more. “She’s a great steward for what she’s trying to do,” said Kirby. “We’re kind of the background.”

The Education Empowers Race takes place this Saturday, January 26, at 8:30 a.m. at Montecito Union Elementary. The preregistration fee for the race is $28 for adults and $18 for students. (At the race, the cost is $30 for adults and $20 for students.) For more information, visit For more information about Global Partners for Development, visit

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