Sara Wroblewski ’13, founder and CEO of the non-profit One Bead, was featured in a Dec. 18 interview by author, adviser, and Forbes contributor Devin Thorpe, for the Your Mark on the World Center.
Your Mark on the World seeks to solve “the world’s biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to address such issues.”
In the interview, Wroblewski discusses the origins of One Bead, which began while she was William Smith student and on a trip to Africa, where she worked at a glass blowing factory and with children at the Oloosirkon Government Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya.
Her proposal for One Bead later won the first annual entrepreneurial Stu Lieblein ’90 Pitch Contest, developed by HWS in 2012. The Pitch, which helps one student each year bring his or her big idea to life, helped Wroblewski implement her plan with a $10,000 grant and the marketing and business management skills to develop her organization.
Since then, Wroblewski has recruited a team of more than 60 student representatives and raised more than $100,000 through fundraising events, private donations, and product sales.
Designed to give back to the school children she met in Kenya, One Bead markets recycled glass beads. One half of each bead is thick and one half is thin, symbolizing having a lot versus having little. In the center of the bead is an “O,” representing the name of the school. The beads are made from recycled windows and bottles heated in a furnace that runs on old car fuel. Purchasers of the beads acknowledge the desire to help another individual and all proceeds support the school.
While One Bead seeks to establish itself as a leading non-profit organization working to support education in Africa, the organization is currently expanding into a leadership development organization, OneLife, for youth in the United States.
In the interview with Thorpe, Wroblewski discusses a recent six-week leadership program with approximately 100 elementary schoolers in Geneva, N.Y. This fall, she and team from HWS taught and developed leadership skills that Wroblewski herself “learned at HWS and continued to think about as an entrepreneur.” Halfway through the program, Wroblewski presented students with a $1,000 check and spent “the next three weeks deciding how to use that money to make a difference in their own community,” she says. “Now they have the chance to put the leadership skills they’ve gained to use and make a real difference.”
Wroblewski has also recently partnered with Teach for America corps member, Caroline Dosky ’12, MAT ’13, to design a leadership curriculum for elementary school students modeled on One Bead. She is piloting a similar program at an elementary school in Boston, Mass. during the 2014-15 year. She previously worked as an administrative assistant in the Massachusetts General Hospital development office, but now runs One Bead full time out of her apartment in Boston.