Nairobi College History

In mid-April 1969, a CALL TO ACTION was issued to San Francisco Bay Area educators in response to an educational crisis in local colleges and universities. The crisis stemmed from the inappropriateness and inadequacy of existing educational programs for members of ethnic communities on the San Francisco Peninsula. There was a critical need for a community/student-oriented college designed to serve ethnic communities and to educate people of color.

In the fall of 1969, Nairobi College opened as a Third World College in the communities of Nairobi (East Palo Alto) and Redwood City, California. The members of the Third World communities committed themselves, at the time, to establishing an educational system to meet the needs of people of color. On July 1, 1971, the two campuses became legally independent and were established as separate colleges.

The Nairobi concept of education is a family oriented concept. Consistent with our belief that the family unit is the basis for, and is essential to, the educational process; and founded on our cultural heritage ofliving in an extended family, the Nairobi concept is a natural consequence of the African experience. The primary concern of Nairobi College is to facilitate the emergence of the contemporary African person.


Nairobi College is designed to develop those skills so desperately needed within Black communities: leadership skills as well as knowledge and awareness for general survival for all people of the community.

In order to get quality education, we must provide it for ourselves. In order to build strong communities, we must have the skills and knowledge to build them ourselves.

Many programs initiated by Nairobi College in the late 60’s and early 70’s are now being replicated in communities across the country, some of which include:

  • Nairobi College Prisoner Community Re-Entry Project
  • Nairobi College Development Centers (Children’s and Infant Center)
  • Nairobi Teen Summer Project

For details on these and other special service programs, see the 1977-79 Nairobi College Catalog.

Although the college closed in the early 1980’s, the Board of Trustees is still active and making a contribution to the community in the name of the college. Some of the efforts include:

  • The Wilhelmenia Anthony Scholar Endowment
  • Support for the Summer Algebra Academy
  • College Scholarships

The Board is planning to have a documentary video developed to preserve the Nairobi College Legacy.