What We Do
OHBD is designed to take on important, hard challenges that haven’t yet been solved. We didn’t want to be just one more small NGO: We want to have an outsized impact by choosing “white space” opportunities which if successful, will be game changers. We also wanted to use the best of business and technology to help drive faster progress.
Our focus is K-14, education and Ethiopia but everything we do can be applied to other parts of the world with similar challenges.
We believe in the power of collaboration. A key goal is driving collaboration with other organizations, NGOs and individuals who share our mission and approach. We collaborate directly and use our programs to introduce organizations and individuals to encourage collaboration between them.
Our pillars of focus are literacy, leadership, innovation and inclusion. 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 schooling 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 other organizations and individuals.
OHBD Fund believes the chance to dream big dreams should NOT depend on where you are born.
Then we took a big leap of faith and launched our first OHBD event on a wing and a prayer, plus an amazing network of support. I remember waking up the morning of gala having just had a nightmare that no one showed up. Thankfully, people who cared about youth in Ethiopia did attend. 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, online 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 to 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 standalone “Open Heart Big Dreams Fund” not-for-profit. Our little one is growing up too and she has helped us 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.
Early Model Projects
Local printing and distribution: Ethiopia Reads
Technology-focused learning for girls: Lebawi
Leadership for the future: Project Ethiopia