A lot of good in Wellesley happens through neighbors connecting and sparking change. Ten years after just such a serendipitous founding of after-school program One Hen, to teach kids how to build businesses that help their communities and the world, a cast of Wellesley’s founding staff, board and advisors came together in May to celebrate the milestone.
The event at Boston’s District Hall featured a marketplace of Boston Public School students selling products they created to raise money for causes ranging from an orphanage in Haiti to Greenpeace. It also featured Babson’s former president, Dr. Len Schlesinger, introducing keynote speaker Amma Sefah-Dedeh Lartey, a former Babson MBA student who co-founded One Hen, served as its first executive director and returned to Wellesley from Ghana, where she has gone on to lead a pan-African social entrepreneurship competition as Africa regional director of the foundation Reach for Change. Also in attendance: past committee members, founding board members, staff and advisors like Dennis Hanno, then Provost at Babson (now president of Wheaton College); Cheryl Kiser, executive director of Babson’s Lewis Institute and resident Sree Balamurugesh, a One Hen co-founder with Lartey, Katie Smith Milway, Karen Schultz and Monique Muri.
As for One Hen’s beginnings, a chance meeting in 2008, at Babson College’s Glavin Chapel between Lartey and local children’s book author Milway led to the creation a year later of One Hen’s curriculum based on Milway’s story of microfinance: “One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference.” A conversation at a Bays soccer game with Wellesley resident Tim Smith, then COO of web design firm SapientRazorfish led to One Hen’s website of lesson plans and games, http://onehen.org. And a One Hen raffle ticket purchase by Wellesley resident John Maconga at the town’s recycling center, led Maconga, the executive director of Boston Scores, a fast-growing after-school program, to license the curriculum and in 2016 acquire the program and its staff. As the service- learning arm of Scores, One Hen today serves up to 1,200 K-12 students in Boston and was about half-way through a roll-out to Scores’ network of affiliates in 12 North American cities serving 10,000 students. The event raised funds to complete launch at remaining sites. Meanwhile, http://onehen.org offers free program licensing to educators in 140 countries and in most languages. Jim Wiley, founder of Help for Haiti and a long-time licensee for Creole-speaking students, attended the celebration.