SAVE-THE-DATE 2019 Annual Gala & Auction ~ November 16, 2019 at "Daybreak Indian Cultural Center"

Ellenore’s Note!

We Live in a Fully Connected World If We Pay Attention
(and I am NOT Talking About the Latest in AI)

    When I took on the first Director of Diversity role for Amazon, I learned a lot about how our brains work which impacts how we see the world and others in it. To increase innovation, teams need to have people who are “connected thinkers” in addition to those who think more with a “linear” view.  Connected thinkers see non-obvious patterns and help make connections that lead to more and better solutions.   
    I see connections everywhere. And for a long time, I didn’t realize not all people do. This epiphany has been so valuable.  We are working to connect seemingly unrelated or tangentially related efforts for bigger impact.  For example, we are creating content to increase the number of diverse books. Our plan is to use this content to contribute to an increased literacy rate, then promote a reading and writing culture, to in turn drive more innovation and creativity which should solve other complex problems. A second example is our pilot innovation centers where we are looking to connect literacy, art and technology to encourage more local solutions. We are experimenting with approaches to achieve this ambiguous and ambitious goal. 
    Another way to increase innovation is to bring in more diverse perspectives. To do so, this summer we are participating in four events around the US that may not seem connected at first glance.  We will be at Taste of Ethiopia in Denver celebrating the food, music and culture as a vendor with our #ReadySetGo books.  We will then be in Washington DC for the Annual Empower the Community Weekend, a groundbreaking event bringing together the largest African community in the DC metro area.  Next stop is Grand Rapids Michigan for an art fundraiser with Stephanie Schlatter Art which came out of our art day in Adama.  And finally, we will back in Seattle for a local festival highlighting good work done by many organizations focused in East Africa. 
    I have interesting connections with each locale.  I grew up in Denver. Ethiopia Reads had its original home in Denver; we created our first #ReadySetGo books video there with supporters who also created one of our latest books, “Where Are the Donkeys?”.  Washington DC was almost my home; I was set to attend Georgetown Law School before the University of Chicago accepted me which meant I could stay with my new husband. But I definitely enjoy visiting our capital which is a fantastic city and home to a large population of Ethiopians living outside of Ethiopia.  One of our earliest supporters, Daniel Temesgen, lives in DC and has been advising us and representing us at local events. My parents immigrated to Grand Rapids from the Netherlands and Indonesia; attended Calvin College as I did for two years before dropping out and heading to Europe.  Long-time supporter of Ethiopian children and art education, Stephanie Schlatter lives there as do two of my sisters and my cousins.  Seattle is home for us now, home to OHBD, and also home to many new and old supporters.  We came to participate in this festival because my friend and longtime volunteer, Lily Iyob wanted us to check out at new restaurant -- Delish Ethiopian Cuisine.  Her friends and owners, Delish Lemma and his wife Amy, were excited to support and invited us to participate.
    The world is beautifully and complexly connected.  It often takes a leap of faith before the supporting connections reveal themselves.  Popular advice is “Look for the helpers in times of trouble.”  I would revise to, “Look for the connections in everything you do and all parts of who you are.”  We are connected in a myriad of amazing ways and OHBD has been an effective vehicle to reveal many of them. We are excited to continue this work while building and growing those connections to the benefit of deserving kids in Ethiopia.  Join us

                                                                                                         ~ Ellenore      

Girls Up “engages girls to stand up for girls, empowering each other and changing our world.”

    Our Junior Board members add unique value and perspectives.  You can read more about them in two blog posts by MacKenzie Averill and Julia Mayner (Mackenzie blog post) and (Julia blog post). Lizzie Iwicki has authored one of our most popular books, “The Happy Herder,” with help from kids at her elementary school as well as from the Ethiopian Community Center.  She is also a member of her high school, Eastside Catholic, Girls Up Program.   This program is an initiative of the United Nations Foundation, an organization set up to support the work of the United nations.
    Girls Up “engages girls to stand up for girls, empowering each other and changing our world.” The club works to raise awareness about the challenges and celebrate the accomplishments of women in our community and around the world.  It is open to both boys and girls.
     OHBD is also focused on empowering women and girls through its programs and priorities.  Last year we funded the first girls summer coding school run by Lebawi in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and are excited to expand this effort.  In 2019, we are funding a Read to Mom program to help illiterate moms engage in their kids’ education in way that empowers the whole family in Maji with MDC, an organization led by Caroline Kurtz, one of our #ReadySetGo books Creative Directors.
    We were delighted to receive a donation raised by Lizzie’s Girls Up program recently to support OHBD girls in technology efforts.  We know collaboration and connection across schools and continents benefits all involved. Thank you so much Lizzie and all the members of the Eastside Catholic Girls Up program for your leadership.  When women and girls are empowered, everyone wins!
    If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about becoming a Junior Board member, please contact us.

Stories from Ethiopia, Volume II ready soon

    For the second Ready Set Read edition, which gives readers three stories in one for the price of two, the Creative Team; Caroline Kurtz, Kenny Rasmussen, and Jane Kurtz chose animal stories—one based on an Ethiopian proverb, one tale told in Ethiopia and around the world, and one mostly nonfiction. A fun thing about this edition is that the art was almost all created by children in both Ethiopia and the U.S.  Jane Kurtz has loved introducing her Ethiopian-American children to scenes of Ethiopia in various ways including doing art for Ready Set Go books with them.
    Findley School in Beaverton, Oregon has engaged both third and fifth graders in doing research about Ethiopia and making images for our books. For our very first prototype book, two Ethiopian and two American artists did a workshop in Addis Ababa where children created the illustrations for the turtle tale that Jane Kurtz wrote and one of the artists, Nahosenay Negussie, read to the young artists in Amharic. 
    Stay tuned for our Volume II, Stories from Ethiopia to be released soon. As usual, all of our books can be found on our Amazon author page.

Shop Our "Ready Set Go" Books!

We are expanding our reading senses…touch to Braille is in the works!

  We were thrilled to learn recently our #ReadySetGo book “Music of the City” was one of 10 books selected by the Wisconsin Braille organization as part of their Special Book Project to be transcribed in braille and distributed to libraries in Wisconsin schools where blind students are enrolled. Allison McKee, from this organization, saw the book at a local library and loved that it focused on sounds (important to blind students) and that it had a second language.  She said, "It will give kids an opportunity to read another language in Braille, even if they don't speak that language."   
    This project (Special Book Project) was started in 1998 focusing on producing a braille book offered at no cost to libraries in Wisconsin schools where blind students are enrolled. The book selection process is managed by a Special Book Committee composed of teachers of the visually impaired and school libraries across the state.  The books are transcribed by certified The Library of Congress/ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped transcribers of the Oshkosh State Correctional Institution (OSCI).  Inmates are taught to create the braille and get technical college credit for their work as well as thank you letters from kids.  It is a self-sustaining project where the monies earn by the inmates go back into maintaining and growing the project. 
    "I was so excited to hear that this book will help children read in ways beyond what we ever imagined," said OHBD supporter Barbara Oswald.  One of our Amharic translators and #ReadSetGoBook author of "The True Story of Teff", Amlaku Eshetie, challenged us to find a way to get some of these braille books to blind kids in Ethiopia too. This is a terrific example of innovation and collaboration with positive ripple effects reaching well beyond our bold initial goals! Creating our #RSG reads in 7 different Ethiopian #languages so far has been amazing.  And to now have one printed in braille is another DREAM realized and one we hope will reach all the way back to Ethiopia soon.  

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