To the supporters of Open Doors,
The seasons are changing once again. For most of us, spring has receded and summer has staked its claim on our days. Most of us wouldn’t consider that for our scholars, winter is coming. It is always good to take a step back from our own bubbles and think globally about the interwoven connections that tie all people together. Regardless of where you are at the moment, the world is constantly changing.
Not to be left behind, we has taken the initiative to further improve our organization to better serve the changing needs of both our donors and our students. Behind the scenes, we’ve worked to:
Improve scholarship delivery to studentsWe have decided to directly support our students and go through less red tape with intermediary organizations in South Africa. In effect, we will be able serve our students more efficiently and disburse scholarships faster than ever before to meet the financial needs of our students in a timely manner.
Increase accountability and communication between ODF and our scholarsWe’ve set up an accountability system in which our scholars are assigned mentors in ODF to not only answer logistical questions, but also to strengthen our personal relationships. The better we know our scholars, the better we can serve their needs.
Make logistical changes to our social media platformsTo keep our supporters up-to-date with all things Open Doors, we’ve been re-designing our website to include a blog roll with consistent updates from students, donors, and the ODF team. We expect that this website will be unveiled in June!
Through all these changes, we can promise you that our original mission remains the same: to empower students to change their communities through higher education. Likewise, all your support throughout these years has been the driving engine for us and our scholars. We cannot thank you deeply enough. Thank you for helping us create the changes for a better future.
The Open Doors Team
Dear friends of Open Doors,
We hope you are doing well and your 2013 has gotten off to a fantastic start! It has been a few months since we were last in touch and so we wanted to quickly share a few exciting updates from our end.
Foremost, we are excited to announce the selection of 3 new Open Doors scholars for 2013! In total, we are now assisting 10 talented students from the South African communities of Masiphumelele and Ocean View in their pursuit of a higher education, an accomplishment that would have been impossible without your generosity and continued support. Through conversations with the students and our partners on the ground, it is clear that each of our scholars remains committed to learning and to using their education to help their families and the broader communities in which they grew up.
Our new 2013 scholars hail from Masiphumelele and have all been active in community life, from playing soccer on local teams to participating in after-school art and music programs. Their career interests span the gamut and include auditing, pharmacy, and environmental management. While their family members have worked hard, whether as security guards, plumbers, or cleaners, to help pay their secondary school fees, the students are now in need of much greater financial support as they strive to achieve their dream of getting a college education. That's where Open Doors is happy to step in! Our scholarships help defray expenses necessary for succeeding in college, from registration fees to transportation and school supply costs.
Our 2013 scholars are looking forward to starting university this year. As one student put it: "The only way to achieve everything I want is to first finish up my education, because this will be the direction towards my dreams and goals. Having education and knowledge with skills…will open doors for me and create many opportunities." The students recognize and value how their higher education will not only change their lives but also afford them the opportunity to transform their community. For example, the scholar interested in a career in pharmacy is excited to someday return home to work in a community clinic.
As 2013 continues to unfold, we will keep you updated on the progress of our students and on our broader fundraising and organizational plans! We would just like to end our message by sharing a note we received from one of our donors a few months ago:
"As a temporarily displaced South African, I was so pleased to find this project on GlobalGiving, as I strongly believe that education and opportunity are the two most important things South African youth need. Thank you for the opportunity to be a small part of making than happen."
The real thanks goes to all of you! Open Doors started as a vague dream for us after we spent the summer serving as teachers in Masiphumelele and Ocean View back in 2009. It is only through the support and kindness of donors like yourselves that our organization became a reality and has been able to tangibly impact the lives of hardworking South African students. We cannot thank you enough!
Wishing you all the best for 2013,
Friends of Open Doors,
We hope that you all are warm and well doing this winter holiday season. There is nothing quite like coming together with friends and family to appreciate one another and count our blessings.
Open Doors Foundation has been busy as well, continuing to work closely with our friends at Kennesaw State web design to create a new logo and website. Our new logo is making its debut here on Global Giving and we hope to launch our revamped website in December. Our hope for this website is more connectivity between our donors and our students. As you browse online for gifts this holiday season, please check in with us as well!
During this holiday season of thanksgiving and merriment, it is easy to forget the struggles of those around us. This recent clip from the New York Times shows the struggle for safety and education continues in South Africa. Let’s not only count our blessings, but share them with those less fortunate all around the world.
On the ground this year, our scholarship applicant pool is bigger than ever. On top of the 8 students we currently support, we are expecting to give out at least another 5 scholarships. 5 of the students have already been accepted into university programs contingent on them maintaining their grades until graduation. Some of the fields of intended study are: Commerce, Engineering, Environmental Science, Physiotherapy, and Pharmacy studies. We are not only investing in these students, but also their future impacts in the community. All the hard work and dedication of these students is starting to pay off as more doors are opening for them. We still believe that their continued education is the key to opening these opportunities they have worked so hard for. Your continued support and donations allow us to be that key.
In the spirit of the giving season, we will shortly being our winter fundraising push. Keeps us in your thoughts as we seek to empower our upcoming class of 2013 Open Doors Foundation Scholars! Thank you all for your continued support. We look forward to bringing you more good news soon!
The Open Doors Foundation Team
Dear Supporters of Open Doors Foundation,
Summer is a time for adventures. Three summers ago, members of Open Doors Foundation first set foot inside Masipumelele (Masi) and Ocean View (OV) – two underprivileged neighborhoods on the outskirt of Cape Town – and saw the possibility of helping these communities through higher education. This summer, one of our teammates, Tim Sun, went back to South Africa, and brought back with him encouraging news from the ground.
To date, eight students have received scholarships from Open Doors. Our 2011 scholarship recipient, Simphiwe from Masi, is one of the top students in his class at University of Cape Town, Michaelis School of Fine Art. Antonio, one of our 2012 recipients from OV, is receiving first-rate grades at the Mathematics program at University of Cape Town. Buhle and Zintle, both from Masi, are exceling in their respective programs at University of the Freedom State. Still others, Philiswa, Mkuseli, Anathi, and Mwande, have used their scholarship to purchase supplies to aid either study or preparation for reapplication to universities. In general, funds have been dispensed for expenses such as registration, books, and laptops. While our scholarship cannot cover the cost of education in full, it does provide a much needed relief to financially constraint families. In his conversations with students, Tim noted the excitement current high schoolers showed upon learning about our scholarship, and the appreciation current recipients expressed for the support the scholarship provided.
All this would not have been possible without you. We at Open Doors are truly grateful for your generosity. To ensure that your funds are creating the most impact possible, we have worked closely with local non-profits such as IkamvaYouth and MasiCorp in recipient selection as well as scholarship distribution. Tim’s trip this summer further strengthened our partnerships, and opened up the possibility of creating an on-the-ground non-profit that is directly affiliated with Open Doors to better coordinate fund flow.
This coming year is teeming with new opportunities. During his stay in Cape Town, Tim got to talk with volunteers that are currently serving in Masi and OV, and many of them expressed a keen interest in continuing their ties with these townships by joining Open Doors. We look forward to welcoming them into the Open Doors community. Back home in the United States, Open Doors was selected in Global Giving’s website redesign program. We are set to work with a team of talented students from the College of Arts at Kennesaw State University this fall to revamp our website.
Although this summer is drawing to an end, our adventure of helping communities through higher education continues. We at Open Doors invite you to stay with us on this journey: “like” us on our Facebook page, donate through GlobalGiving, visit our revamped website once it’s ready, and be sure to tell friends and family about this cause that you support. However you wish to contribute, we feel lucky to have you on board.
To the Open Doors family:
Spring is once again upon us! We have been busier than ever seeking new ways to improve our reach and be more effective not only with fundraising, but also on the ground. Many exciting ideas have been tossed around by our team and we look forward to this fundraising and scholarship cycle!
In our last update, we announced our scholarship recipients and wired their scholarships to South Africa. The students have received theses funds and have been putting them to good use. We are paying for tuition, books, transportation costs and even meal stipends. However, more important than these contributions, we are investing in the futures of these qualified young individuals. They know they have our support and are fully intent on honoring their commitment to their community of support. Many students will be coming back to the Masiphumelele area for their first extended break this summer. It will be great to have them all together again and share their experiences with the younger students in the community!
Aside from these great developments in South Africa, we have had a lot of congratulatory news on our administrative end as well. One of our core members, Amy Wang, recently finished up her undergraduate career at Harvard University. Another core member, Tim Sun, was accepted into the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We congratulate them on these momentous events and thank them for their support for the Open Doors Foundation.
Lastly and perhaps most excitingly, Tim Sun will be going to South Africa this summer to the Masiphumelele area. We are excited for one of our core members to make his return to the area that we are working for. Not only are we excited to see the difference that you helped create, but it will be a great opportunity to really entrench our support for the community and the students. This will be a chance to show them our dedication and our support in person!
We thank all the donors that really made all this possible, for both us as an organization and the students that we support. We really couldn’t do anything without your generosity and kindness. Our core purpose remains the same, using education to better communities from within.
We thank you once again for choosing and supporting our cause to make a difference in the world.
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