Ellenore's Note


      OHBD is focused on increasing innovative and game-changing efforts.  We believe in the power of collaboration across organizations and the power of storytelling to share innovative approaches.  Our main project remains Ready Set Go books to increase literacy where we are essentially a publisher. 
     But we are also honored to collaborate with innovative organizations to elevate and amplify their efforts.  This year we awarded four grants. The largest was to Ethiopia Reads who has a 17-year successful history with planting and maintaining libraries as well as educator training.  Thanks to our grant they will be printing and distributing more than 50,000 copies of 22 Ready Set Go books in Amharic locally. They also worked with the Ministry of Education to get these books approved as supplemental materials.
     The second grant was for a Model Program related to technology which funded the first Summer Girls Programing Class through Lebawi.  Lebawi or the International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia has graduated award winning technologists that are now studying in the best universities around the globe so they were a natural choice for us.  One of those graduates returned this summer and was a key teacher and creator of the program.  Volunteers from OHBD added input and visited during the summer. We are in talks to expand the program during the year at Lebawi and with other organizations including local Ethiopian universities.
     The third grant focuses on the power of stories.  We awarded a grant to a local Seattle organization MMRTI to document our Ready Set Go Program efforts in the US and Ethiopia, those of our benefiting organizations like Seeds of Africa and our Model Program Grantees. Our final grant was awarded to Project Ethiopia for a Model Program relate to leadership to expand and grow its innovative transition scholarship program. This program ensures talented high schoolers make it to the universities that have accepted them locally. Because of our support, they will be able to issue grants to more deserving female students and to document their approach so other organizations can implement similar efforts.
     More to come next month as these scholarships will be awarded shortly.                                                                                                                                                                                 ~ Ellenore  

A Visit to the 10th Annual Ethiopian Heritage and Cultural Camp in Virginia!

     On August 3, Jane Kurtz and Caroline Kurtz, two of the creative directors of Ready Set Go Books, arrived at Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp in Harrisonburg, Virginia to share stories with the many families who attend to celebrate the themes of sharing, growing, belonging and connection and to learn from many Ethiopian volunteers including Mekdes Bekele, founder of Abshirokids, a company that provides Ethiopian parents with teaching resources on language and cultural topics. The sisters spent an hour with each of four children’s classes from the Rabbits and Tortoises (4 and 5-years-old) to the teenagers. They talked about their own lives growing up in Ethiopia and the books they’ve now written that connect with the country of their childhood. 
     In addition, Jane and Caroline did a presentation for the adults, sharing pictures and stories about many things they’ve learned through being part of the Ready Set Go Books team of Ethiopian and American writers, educators, and translators all collaborating and teaching each other about reading habits, about Ethiopian proverbs, about language nuances, and about the varied geography, animals, and people groups of Ethiopia. As one example, Jane told of her surprise and delight when she was creating the back matter for one of the newest Ready Set Go Books, Butterfly by Fasika Adefris and discovered recent information about the painted lady butterflies that spend their winter in Ethiopia and other African countries: Article 
     On August 4 and 5, participants bought their own copies of Ready Set Go Books and shared ideas and resources. Jane says, “There aren’t many places where Americans, Ethiopian-Americans, and Ethiopians can talk with candor and joy about their experiences with amazing Ethiopia. Ethiopian Heritage and Culture Camp—close to the Washington DC area where maybe 100,000 Ethiopians live—is that rare spot. Caroline and I loved the chance to be ambassadors for Ready Set Go Books there!”
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      Project Ethiopia -     
Our Students Are Succeeding!

     This innovative pilot program funded by OHBD provided both an opportunity for returning university students to support their community and much needed academic support for high school students seeking to successfully pass the national university exam.
     Returning university students and previous recipients of a Project Ethiopia University Transition Award (UTA) volunteered to serve as tutors and mentors for a total of 304 high school students (208 seniors and 96 sophomores) at two Dangla high schools – Mengesha Secondary School (serving grades 9 and 10) and Dangla Preparatory School (serving grades 11 and 12).
     The program was offered at both high schools from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm, Monday through Friday, for a total of four weeks. During that time, students received tutoring from 8 returning UTA recipients in the following subject areas: (English; Mathematics; Physics; Chemistry; Economics; Biology).
         Project Ethiopia’s summer tutoring and mentoring program is the first of its kind to offer this support free of charge and by university students who have recently prepared for and successfully passed the exam. All of the students participating in the Project Ethiopia summer program would not have had access to this support were it not for the UTA volunteers.
     As two participants told Project Ethiopia Leader, Workineh Genetu:
“Many students can get tutorial by paying money. Now needy students can get the same support from UTA tutors. Thank you to Project Ethiopia!” -12th grade male student
“I know I received the same or even more knowledge from UTA tutors compared with the students who got tutorial from paid teachers. I am very thankful for this support.” -12th grade female student
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Girls CAN Code Too! 

     There is little exposure at secondary school level curriculum to coding and programming in Ethiopia. This impacts girls even more as they are often discouraged from STEM and computer science education. International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia (ILAE) in Lebawi is a high school that has had great success at teaching technology and coding with the aim to create future leaders. Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund funded a model grant project called "Girls Coding School" conducted at ILAE and over the course of its short life span we have come to appreciate the incredible level of desire on the part of girls for computer science education specifically around coding. What they learned over the course of the 16- week summer program is remarkable; they now know how to develop websites using HTML & CSS code as well as work within server creation and management tools such as PHP. (see below images) We are so proud of their accomplishments and thank the faculty at ILAE for their dedication of ensuring a positive learning environment for the girls and Multimedia Resources and Training Institute (MMRTI) -also an OHBD model grant recipient- for capturing these girls in their element through engaged interviews and photo imagery (a couple of draft web designs are featured below). We are excited to expand this successful effort.   

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