A Decade of Growth: One Stone at a Time
Billy Shore — entrepreneurial founder of the anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength — welcomed guests at LearnServe’s 10th Anniversary celebration with his favorite metaphor: Growing an organization, or a social movement, is like building a cathedral, he reflected. Think big — but take it one stone at a time. The original vision may not be manifest in one person’s lifetime, but the cathedral will be finished.
We were honored to reunite many of LearnServe’s early visionaries, architects, and entrepreneurs on November 6, 2013 at the Josephine Butler Parks Center to celebrate the organization’s first decade.
The event honored Hugh Riddleberger, LearnServe Founder, and his wife Louise McIlhenny, an innovative educator whose kindergarten classroom inspired the LearnServe concept.
Billy Shore, who introduced Share Our Strength and community organizations in Ethiopia as early LearnServe partners, served as keynote speaker.
Joining the celebrations were Founding Board Members Dick Hall and Kathy Kemper whose leadership at the Washington International School and the Institute for Education helped incubate LearnServe during its early years.
Honorary Host Committee members Anthony Williams, James Kimsey, and Tracy Gray — among others — returned to see how their early conversations around international education helped shape the organization’s approach to cultivating global citizenship.
These early supporters laid the cornerstone of an emerging organization.
Some of the early manifestations of this vision — and the potential in LearnServe’s approach — are evident in LearnServe’s alumni. Take for example Jessica Yang, recognized with LearnServe’s Entrepreneurship Award. Jessica’s venture Kids Are Scientists Too is now a national 501c3 non-profit with chapters in six states, leading hands-on science education classes for middle school students, taught by more than 120 high school and college volunteers. Or James Cunningham, LearnServe’s advisor at the School Without Walls who inspires innovation through art, honored with LearnServe’s Global Perspective Award.
Jessica and James represent the community of more than 700 students and teachers who have participated in LearnServe programs over the past ten years. To meet some of the others and hear about their accomplishments, visit our archive of stories and video interviews compiled in honor of LearnServe’s 10th Anniversary.
Many more stones were laid on November 6 as we launched the LearnServe Opportunity Fund, in honor of Hugh Riddleberger and Louise McIlhenny, with gifts and pledges of more than $150,000. The Opportunity Fund will support LearnServe’s ability to award financial scholarships and support its commitment to diversity — allowing LearnServe to award financial scholarships for participation in LearnServe programs to students who demonstrate creativity, potential, and passion for a cause.
We are grateful for the countless staff, volunteers, alumni families, donors, and friends who have built LearnServe over the past ten years — and we look forward to continuing to build on this foundation with you over the decades to come.