One Bead, a nonprofit organization Sara Wroblewski ’13 created to raise money for a school in Kenya, has received a $40,000 contribution from a private donor, enabling her to work for the organization full-time for the next year. While Wroblewski is the chief executive officer of One Bead, she has not drawn a salary from the organization and has been working in the development office of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
“Doing this full time makes a huge difference,” says Wroblewski. Even with her busy schedule, she has managed to guide One Bead as it has continued to provide necessary educational resources for children in East Africa, grow a high school and college rep program, and launch the One Life Leadership program with Caroline Dosky ’12, MAT ’13.
The rep program started two years ago and is managed by HWS student Michaela Criniti ’15, who is vice president of One Bead and a member of the board of directors. Reps, who are all volunteers, are given 15 bracelets in their initial packets, which they sell at their own pace. There are currently more than 60 representatives on more than 40 campuses in the U.S. and abroad. There are also a small number of reps at the high school level as well.
“I remind them that one of our biggest jobs is to raise awareness,” says Wroblewski.
While some reps sell a modest amount and focus more heavily on the educational aspect, others charge fully into all aspects of One Bead. Last year, a Susquehanna rep sold 1,000 bracelets and then additionally raised the funds to host Wroblewski and Criniti as speakers at the school. When they arrived, they were surprised to learn there was a One Bead theme house on campus.
“It was a great opportunity to meet reps who aren’t involved because they know me, but because they are really committed to the cause,” says Wroblewski. She notes they hope to grow the rep program to do more for the volunteers, such as holding a conference for them or presenting them with unique opportunities.
One Life is also growing quickly, with the program set to start in three schools in the Northeast this fall.
“We raised approximately $13,000 through crowd funding to start the new initiative,” says Wroblewski, noting she and Dosky also met with roughly 100 donors.
The pilot ran through the spring, and this summer they are analyzing all they have learned. They have already established relationships with four schools that will run extended six week programs, two or three times a week. They are also looking to reach master’s students to train them to run the program so it can grow larger than what Wroblewski and Dosky can manage on their own. Graduate students will be trained on the curriculum Dosky created as they also learn about One Bead.
“We’re already seeing and learning so much from this program and working with the kids,” says Wroblewski.
Most recently, she has established a partnership between MGH, One Bead and the Center for Global Health to fund a one-year medical residency for a woman in Uganda. To launch the partnership, MGH held an event with 200 of their biggest donors. The hospital provided each with a One Bead bracelet and announced the residency program.
“In Uganda, there is one doctor for every 20,000 people, so the opportunity to help a doctor gain her training and remain in the country that so desperately needs her is significant,” explains Wroblewski.
One Bead is also partnering with a small NGO in Kenya that deals primarily with students; Kesho Kenya wants them to run a mini version of the One Life leadership program.
“It’s been an exciting few months!” adds Wroblewski.