By Richard Campbell
Educational empowerment never seemed so fun as when One Hen, a division of Boston Scores, brought out students to pitch their projects to well-wishers and contributors during their charitable event held this past Thursday at District Hall in the Seaport. The curriculum of One Hen focuses upon teaching student entrepreneurship fundamentals and giving back to the community. In practical terms students learn how to start a business, create and market a product, and turn their profits towards helping others in need. During the evening the student’s finished products were displayed as they demonstrated entrepreneurial and social skills in preparation for a life of service.
Prominently on hand was Katie Smith Milway, author of the award-winning children’s book: “One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference” which served as the inspiration for the One Hen organization. The book tells the story of a west African boy Kojo who starts with one hen and builds a large poultry business that fuels empowerment. Kojo’s story is based upon the life of Dr. Kwabena Darko, the former chairman of a global microfinance industry called Opportunity International. The colorfully illustrated series of books served as the backdrop to the event, and a method of raising funds for the organization. At the opening of the event, guests circulated the lobby of District Hall with their passports, marking off presentation stations, trying on hats and other wearables made by the students, who pitched their projects with confidence.
In the kick off to the celebration, sponsored by Monique Muri Foundation FACTSET, Imago Dei Fund, Liberty Mutual and East Boston Savings Bank, members of Boston Scores Staff set up raffles and auction tables of One Hen books and ephemera related to the program. Lisa Gutwillig, co-chair of the Host Committee got the ball rolling with Dwayne Simmons, One Hen’s Director, as they engaged a student poetry reading, discussed educational goals and thanked sponsors for their contributions. The buffet styled dinner in the main hall comprised chicken and vegetarian options, with tables decorated with tree center pieces created by Wendy Beck, and colorful written word testimonies by the students.
The dinner program featured comments by Howard Kogan, Advisory Board Chair, Katie Smith Milway, Dr. Karla Estrada, Deputy Superintendent of Academics and Student Support Services of the Boston Public Schools, and inspirational readings by poet / educator Neiel Israel. Dr. Estrada set the inspirational theme by exploring her life long quest to become an educator, starting out as an impoverished Latina youth in Los Angeles, and surpassing barriers to complete her higher education, to find leadership roles in education. Neiel Israel alternately plucked the audiences heart strings and created humor through participatory spoken words of students in the program and her own original poetry.
On an educational level, the mission of Boston Scores and One Hen combine to advance deeper learning and problem-solving skills in a series of enrichment programs that serve students and educators in the Boston Public Schools. The partnership between BPS and Boston Scores allows K-12 students to participate five days a week, and includes soccer practices, poetry classes, or civic leadership classes. Towards the later part of the student’s participation in the program students also learn college preparation and job readiness skills. This year’s crop of selected entrepreneurs certainly seemed ready and eager to take on the world! For more information, or to contribute see One Hen at: https://www.onehen.org/, or Boston Scores https://www.bostonscores.org/.