What We Do

OHBD is designed to take on important hard challenges but haven’t been solved yet. We didn’t want to be just one more small NGO. We wanted to have an outsized impact by choosing “white space” opportunities which if successful would be game changers. We also wanted to use the best of business and technology to help drive faster progress.

Our focus is K-12, education and Ethiopia but everything we do could be applied to other parts of the world with similar challenges.

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We believe in the power of collaboration. A key goal is driving collaboration with other NGOs who share our mission and approach.  We collaborate directly and also use our programs to introduce NGOs and encourage collaboration between NGOs.

Our pillars of focus are Literacy, Technology and Art.  We chose each of these because they provide children, and adults, a way to problem solve and reimagine their future.  We believe education is more than formal education and that teaching leadership is critical to helping communities solve their own challenges.  We also want to elevate and amplify innovative work being done for kids in Ethiopia by organizations like Ethiopia Reads, Seeds of Africa, Project Ethiopia, and International Leadership Academy of Ethiopia, all but one founded by one of our Advisory Board Members.

OHBD Fund believes the chance to dream big dreams should NOT depend on where you are born

When we brought our little girl home from Ethiopia in 2008, we committed to her and ourselves that we would make a positive impact in her birth country.  We started by donating books and then funding a library in Bahir Dar, her birthplace, which we have been able to visit twice so far.

Then we took a big leap of faith and launched our first OHBD event on a wing and prayer plus an amazing network of support.  I remember waking up the morning of gala having just had a nightmare no one showed up.  But thankfully, people who cared about kids in Ethiopia showed up.  In fact, so many we had to turn some away; all with Open Hearts to support Big Dreams for deserving children. And they continued to show up in bigger numbers each subsequent year growing OHBD to an event that consistently raised over $100K. Our goal with this event was to create a predictable source of funding to one organization, Ethiopia Reads.  It was doing great program work in country but every year required many people taking on small fundraisers.  We worked with Ethiopia Reads to test other vehicles, on-line and family friendly events, plus provided strategic advice and guidance.

As we grew and raised close to half a million dollars in total, we realized we needed a different structure to continue to increase our impact beyond one organization and one event. My husband Michael and I, with the support of a talented group with HUGE hearts, decided take these efforts formally to the next level.  Through doing so, we hope to dramatically increase our reach.  So, we took another leap of faith and created a stand-alone “Open Heart Big Dreams Fund” Not for Profit.  Our little one is growing up too and she has helped up raise the funds needed since she was three years old.  In her words, “It’s not fair!!” that some kids don’t get the chance to go to school or learn to read.

Featured Model Projects

Local Printing and Distribution:  Ethiopia Reads

Technology Focused Learning for Girls: Lebawi

Leadership for the Future: Project Ethiopia