(Los Angeles, CA) August 22, 2018 – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced today that the grassroots nonprofit organization SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities) is this year’s recipient of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. A distinguished panel of independent international jurors selected SHOFCO, which catalyzes large-scale transformation in urban slums by providing critical services for all, community advocacy platforms, and education and leadership development for women and girls.

Based in Kibera—one of the largest slums in Africa—SHOFCO was founded by Kennedy Odede as a teenager in 2004 with 20 cents and a soccer ball. In 2007, Kennedy met Jessica Posner, a bright and driven American student studying abroad. Together they devised the model that SHOFCO utilizes today. Kennedy and Jessica’s partnership is a unique, pioneering collaboration in the field of international development.

While growing up in Kibera, Kennedy Odede saw firsthand the devastating consequences of living in urban informal settlements, known locally as slums. However, instead of thinking about how to escape his environment, Kennedy saw the potential to transform his community by working side-by-side with his neighbors within the slum. SHOFCO’s programs, which include health care, education and economic empowerment for women and girls, and sustainable delivery of clean water through a cutting-edge aerial piping system, are always demand-driven and community led. In providing communities with the opportunity to realize their full potential, SHOFCO creates sustainable, systemic change within urban slums. What began as a grassroots movement in Kibera by Kennedy in 2004 has ignited transformation and hope in six Kenyan slums, reaching more than 220,000 people.

“The jury’s selection of SHOFCO to receive the 2018 Hilton Humanitarian Prize really speaks to the power of local actors, and signals a nod to the next generation of humanitarian and development leaders,” said Hilton Foundation President and CEO Peter Laugharn. “SHOFCO is a remarkable example of citizen-led change, created by people living in very challenging conditions. As Africa and the world urbanize and more informal settlements are created, SHOFCO provides an inspiring example of local creativity and solutions.”

SHOFCO will receive $2 million in unrestricted funding, joining the list of 22 previous organizations that have received the Hilton Humanitarian Prize over the last two decades including most recently, icddr,b, The Task Force for Global Health and Landesa.

“We are thrilled and honored to receive the 2018 Hilton Humanitarian Prize,” said Kennedy Odede, founder and CEO of SHOFCO. “We will use this tremendous opportunity to start an endowment to ensure the long-term financial health and sustainable growth of our work. This will allow SHOFCO to remain driven by community needs and leadership, not donor demands, now and in the future. The endowment will strengthen our work in partnership with community leaders and help us expand our investments to transform urban slums.”

SHOFCO will be honored at this year’s Hilton Humanitarian Symposium and Prize Ceremony, which will take place at The Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018. The theme of this year’s symposium is The Future of Humanitarian Action: Resetting Our Moral Compass. The daylong conference will bring together thought leaders and humanitarians from around the world to explore the issues and opportunities that must be addressed to meet the most pressing humanitarian crises of today and tomorrow. Featured speakers include: Charlize Theron, Academy Award-winning actor, UN Messenger of Peace, and founder of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project; David Brooks, New York Times op-ed columnist and author of “The Road to Character;” Ambassador-at-large Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS coordinator and U.S. special representative for Global Health Diplomacy; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Congressmember Karen Bass, representing the 37th District of California; Melissa Fleming, director of communications for UNHCR and author of “A Hope More Powerful than the Sea;” among several others.

“I applaud SHOFCO’s work to transform the lives of urban slum dwellers, galvanize grassroots change, and reduce social and educational barriers for women and girls,” said Her Excellency, Margaret Kenyatta, The First Lady of the Republic of Kenya. “Their efforts are an example for organizations who seek to create paths out of poverty and inspire hope. That is why I am a proud member of SHOFCO.“

Each year, the Hilton Foundation reviews hundreds of nominations from notable nonprofits throughout the world, and an independent, international panel of distinguished jurors makes the final selection after a rigorous vetting process. The 2018 Hilton Humanitarian Prize jury includes the following individuals: Sir Fazle Hasan Abed; Princess Salimah Aga Khan; Gro Brundtland, M.D., M.P.H.; Hawley Hilton McAuliffe; Strive Masiyiwa; Ann M. Veneman; and Mark Rosenberg, M.D., M.P.P. Nominations for the 2019 Hilton Humanitarian Prize will be accepted from Aug. 22 – Oct. 25, 2018 and should be submitted through the Hilton Foundation website.


SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities) is a grassroots movement that catalyzes large-scale transformation in urban slums by providing critical services for all, community advocacy platforms, and education and leadership development for women and girls. Growing up in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa, SHOFCO’s founder Kennedy Odede experienced extreme poverty, violence, lack of opportunity, and deep gender inequality. Now, SHOFCO is focused on building solutions to urban poverty by addressing those core obstacles. For more information, please visit www.shofco.org.