TBI is a research institution supporting scientific projects in the Turkana Basin, Kenya.

Giving to TBI

Click here to make a donation to the Turkana Basin Institute

TBI seeks to develop its programs by raising private gifts and endowments. The Kenyan Government is not in a position to guarantee long-term funding to support scientific projects and it is our goal to ensure that the infrastructure to enable scientific work in the Turkana Basin will always be available. Efforts to raise the financial support to build and equip the two field stations have been quite successful, although much remains to be done.

Phase 1 of the TBI project (completed)

Phase 1 of the TBI project required raising funds to build and equip a temporary facility at Ileret that would support year-round field research and community projects, to locate a suitable site for a facility on the west side of the lake, and to begin to support postdoctoral scientists and postgraduate fellows. Our initial estimate was that these goals would require USD 2.4 million. However, Phase 1 was in fact completed by the end of 2007 for about USD 1.8 million. Part of the reason that the costs were reduced so significantly was that Stony Brook University shouldered the administrative costs through its funding of TBI-Stony Brook, such that almost all of the monies raised could be dedicated to construction, equipping the facility and supporting young scientists.

Phase 2 of the TBI project (ongoing)

Fundraising for phase 2 of the TBI project commenced in 2008. The goal is to raise USD 10 million over the next three to five years to enable construction of a permanent facility at Turkwel, the replacement of the temporary structures at Ileret with a permanent facility, as well as investment in the physical capital required to support research and provide logistical support. Jim and Marilyn Simons, who had already generously supported Phase 1 of the project, made a dramatic difference by committing a USD 5 million challenge grant from the Simons Foundation. This challenge offers a dollar-for-dollar match for all other funds donated to support Phase 2. The effectiveness of their challenge grant is clearly evident as the pace of fund-raising increased dramatically when the challenge grant was announced early in 2008.

When musician Paul Simon visited TBI with his wife and children in August 2008, he offered to perform on our behalf, culminating in a hugely successful fundraising effort led by Ian Telfer and Jussi Westergren. Jussi and Ian organized an event in Vancouver in September 2009 at which Paul Simon and Jim Cuddy played and sang. This raised USD 1 million and drew down a further million dollars from the Simons’ challenge grant. Following this successful model, a similar event took place in New York City on May 2, 2012, with Paul Simon once again contributing his voice and music to the cause. This exciting evening raised USD 2.1 million total.

Phase 3 of the TBI project (planned)

Phase 3 of TBI fundraising will seek to endow a scientific research program. The support of year-round research is essential if we are to ensure the sustainability and caliber of TBI, regardless of external factors. The goal is to protect TBI from the vulnerabilities associated with an entirely revenue-based financial plan and we feel that TBI should not depend solely on user fees as this could drive fees up and thus be inimical to TBI’s objectives of promoting and supporting scientific endeavor.

Long-term financing for TBI

Once TBI has been established, it is anticipated that funding for its long-term financial needs will derive from three main sources:

  1. The field school will provide a revenue stream that will cover many of the operating costs of the facility at Turkwel (and later at Ileret) through reasonable charges for use of TBI infrastructure. By maximizing facility use during the academic year, it is our intent to offset annual operating costs to the maximum extent possible. To this end we plan to run field schools each semester. We estimate that the field schools’ use of the facility for 20 weeks per year will provide almost 80% of the recurrent operational costs for the Turkwel facility.
  2. A second revenue stream will be generated by the use of the field facilities by scientific researchers. By charging reasonable rates for facility use (i.e., much lower than the cost to scientists of mounting and equipping individual, free-standing projects themselves) TBI expects to generate sufficient resources to cover the shortfall of ongoing operational recurrent costs not financed by the field schools. Facilities use by scientific projects will be concentrated in the summer months when faculty from European and US universities are not teaching.
  3. The endowment of a scientific research program will buffer TBI from an entirely revenue-based financial plan, thus ensuring quality research.

During the next two to three years, TBI plans to complete construction of the full facilities at Ileret and at Turkwel. The most important current priority is to complete fundraising for Phase 2 of TBI, so that we can commence fundraising for the endowment and thus ensure that TBI persists in perpetuity.

All contributions to the Stony Brook Foundation/TBI, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation are tax deductible, as allowed by law.

Dr. Richard Leakey

Dr. Richard Leakey

TBI is already playing a valuable role and its potential for scientific studies and community development is obvious. The scope for academic excellence on a truly multi-national and interdisciplinary scale is exciting. The challenge now is to complete our work. I really need your help to achieve this.- Richard Leakey

For more information on giving to TBI, please contact:

Sarah K. Abruzzi
Turkana Basin Institute
Stony Brook University
N507A Social & Behavioral Sciences
Stony Brook, NY 11794-4364
Phone: (631) 632-4608
Fax: (631) 632-5810

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Images of the Turkana Basin


Images of the Turkana Basin


TBI is a research institution supporting scientific projects in the Turkana Basin, Kenya.

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