DEGREE: B.S. in mechanical engineering; M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth ’68
JOB TITLE: Co-founder, Education For All Children
FAVORITE TRINITY MEMORY: A solitary walk down the Long Walk at last light feeling a sense of history and belonging
REPORTER: When did you start Education For All Children, and what motivated you to do so?
VAN SCIVER: My wife, Nancy, and I started EFAC in 2008 after a fact-finding trip to Kenya. We were looking for a way to improve the education opportunities for Kenyan children. We were motivated to give back in return for the great fortune and gifts we have received during our lives. I include in those great gifts my education at Trinity. The program currently supports 160 secondary school and 45 university scholarships.
REPORTER: What is EFAC’s mission?
VAN SCIVER: Education For All Children provides scholarships, mentoring, and global connections to bright but impoverished Kenyan students to encourage leadership, employment, cultural sharing, and a more peaceful world.
REPORTER: What led EFAC to focus its efforts on Kenya?
VAN SCIVER: Kenya is an English-speaking democracy with a strong commitment to education. There we found a vital partner in African Nazarene University, which committed to help administer the program. I think it would be very difficult to design and administer a program without a strong local and on-the-ground partner. By structuring our funding around a direct connection between sponsor and student, our sponsors are able to intimately know their student and participate in the evolving impact of their sponsorship. A testament to the power of this connection is that this year 70 percent of secondary school sponsors chose to continue to sponsor their student through university.
REPORTER: Why do students need a sponsor to attend school in their home country?
VAN SCIVER: The Kenyan government provides funds for primary school but very limited funding for high school. As a result, many of Kenya’s brightest students drop out of school after eighth grade; their families are simply too poor to send them to high school. We see this as a disaster not only for Kenya but for the entire global community. The fact that 96 percent of this year’s high school graduates are furthering their education rather than back home herding goats tells us we are on the right track.
REPORTER: How much time do you spend on-site with EFAC, and what do you do while you are there?
VAN SCIVER: I travel to Kenya once or twice a year to meet with our Kenya board, our partner schools, and, most importantly, our students. The EFAC program is constantly evolving. Input from all stakeholders is key to making it work. This year Nancy and I actually traveled home with some of the students to meet their parents and see their communities. To see how far these kids have come and receive the deep gratitude from their parents was overwhelming.
REPORTER: How did your experience at Trinity contribute to your commitment to education?
VAN SCIVER: I am a strong believer in a liberal arts education as a way to understand the way the world works and to see the opportunities available to impact it. One could not attend Trinity and not understand the value and importance of quality education.
REPORTER: Who at Trinity had the biggest influence on you and your career? Why?
VAN SCIVER: That is a tough question. There were so many at Trinity who influenced me–professors, friends, and members of the administration. If forced to single out one person, it might be Art Gilchrest, our crew coach. He taught me that success is not a matter of luck. It is the natural consequence of training, commitment, and focus.