Model Projects

OHBD is focused on increasing game-changing efforts. And we are consistently looking to elevate and amplify innovative approaches through Model Programs and grants.
Model Program grant recipients are required to document the program we fund and agree to share with other organizations or help other organizations implement a similar program in the future. We work with each grant participant to try to improve their program in some way to make it more innovative or impactful.

Local Printing and Distribution:  Ethiopia Reads

The largest grant we awarded supported our RSG books and literacy focus and went to Ethiopia Reads who has a 17-year successful history with planting and maintaining libraries as well as educator training.  They have not done local printing and distributing at scale. 

Last year they were able to develop contracts with local printers in Addis and test a ten thousand book print run of our Ready Set Go Oromo language books.  Thanks to an OHBD Model Project 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.

In 2017, they were able to test out local printers in Addis Ababa and print 10,000 copies of our Ready Set Go Afaan Oromo language books. Thanks to our grant, in 2018 they are overseeing a large printing of Ready Set Go Amharic language books and two small printings of Ready Set Go Sidama language and Ready Set Go Dizin language books. By the end of 2018, 100,000 books will reach around 150 schools and almost 300 educators, who have little experience using books with students, will be educated in reading those books. The Ethiopia Reads staff has worked with regional educational bureaus and also the national Ministry of Education, who praised the value of these books as supplemental reading for Ethiopian students.

Technology Focused Learning for Girls: Lebawi

The second grant we awarded was 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.  We asked them to test a summer coding school which they would design and run.  One of their recent 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.

Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund funded a model grant project called "Girls Coding School" conducted at Lebawi/International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia (ILAE) is a high school that has had great success at teaching technology and coding with the aim to create future leaders. 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. 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.We are so proud of their accomplishments and thank the faculty at #Lebawi/ILAE for their dedication of ensuring a positive learning environment for the girls and Multimedia Resources and Training Institute (MMRTI) -also an OHBD 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.

Leadership for the Future: Project Ethiopia

Our third grant was awarded to Project Ethiopia for a Model Program related 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 by providing transition scholarships to cover the costs of travel and necessities to get from their rural homes to the university that accepted them which costs $200 US per student.  We also asked them to add an element of mentorship given the power we know that provides to future success for the individual and community. Because our support, they will be able to issue scholarships to more deserving female students and to document their approach so other organizations can implement similar efforts.

Since 2012, Project Ethiopia has made University Transition Scholarship (an innovative Model Program Open Hearts Big Dreams provided a 2018 grant to expand and document) to 288 high school graduates. Beyond helping rural students reduce the economic and cultural barriers to making the transition to university, these awards motivate the recipients to work hard and stay in school. And the results are impressive. Our first group of students (43 awards made in 2012) have all graduated from university; 12 are now working as nurses, accountants, and teachers and the remaining 31 are continuing their graduate education in medicine and engineering. These scholarships inspire all university prep students to work hard and dream big!

From 2014 – 2016, the percentage of students who took the university exam and passed has increased each year, from 46% in 2014 to 93% in 2017. Now that is what WE at OHBD calls progress!

About the program:

Project Ethiopia helps the highest scoring students through our University Transition Awards program. Each year we provide a support package valued at $200 to 50 aspiring young adults who have successfully passed the university entrance exam; the top 20 highest scoring girls, the top 20 highest scoring boys, and 10 students who have passed the exam and have special needs.

At a community ceremony held each year in Dangla town, Project Ethiopia distributes a carefully selected package of items that will help support cultural adjustment from rural village to large city.

OHBD is excited to help Project Ethiopia and other interested organizations expand this exciting program throughout rural Ethiopia.

Impact Story Telling: MMRTI

We believe in the power of stories to inspire, engage and increase impact.  Multimedia Resources and Training Institute (MMRTI) received funding from Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund (OHBD) to develop a collection of storytelling videos. In these videos, key volunteers and staff who are involved in our Ready Set Go Book project and other model programs tell stories about their own experiences related to the importance of literacy, technology, education, leadership, and innovation in Ethiopian and the US.  MMRTI is also organizing and filming celebrity reading of Ready Set Go Books.  You can find some of their videos here:

MMRTI is a non-profit and non-political institute to prepare the underserved immigrant youth in the community for success in multimedia technology locally, regionally, and globally. MMRTI has provided 350+ youth with video and media training classes, and 165 others with various STEM technology classes, including image editing, 3D modeling, web design, graphic design, and XML. MMRTI has sponsored Ethio Youth Media TV and broadcasts on both Seattle public access television (channel 77) and on YouTube. MMRTI has been a key organization in Seattle for creating multimedia content and providing multimedia training for groups that are underrepresented in the mainstream media.  We have produced 2,780 public access TV programs since 2011, and our YouTube content has 3353+ subscribers and over 1.9 million views. We also provided vital media coverage and promotional services to non-profits including Ethiopian community, Ethiopia Reads and OHBD in the past few years. Mostly recently, MMRTI partnered with International leadership academy

model project 1

Innovation Centers: Gondar

Gonder is a small town in North West Ethiopia.  It has close to 300,000 residents.  It was a thriving capital city of Ethiopia from mid-1500 to late 1800. There are only a few elementary school servicing close to 100,000 children.  None of them have a decent building for a library, have very few books, and no computers.  We created two unique Ready Set Go Books about this special place

As part of this model program, we identified one elementary school, LiElit Elementary school, with the largest number of students and started a project to build a library.  After complete, we will add on a computer center, artist studio and writers’ workshop.

Our vision is to create an environment where children and community from the city of Gonder can come and read stories, learn computer skills, and socialize with each other.  We also envision the computer innovation center can be used by the youth in the city to develop application that can improve lives and serve as a source of income over time.  Ultimately, we want to provide a model that can be replicated in other schools and cities to build local capacity for innovation and solving complex challenges.

We are collaborating with the school, the community, the city mayor’s office, and with the University of Gonder.

OHBD Gondar Innovation Center
model project 2

Our Founder previously partnered with Ethiopia Reads to create and then expand a library in Bahir Dar and we have seen the incredible impact it has had on the school and the community.