i knew GGRF, precisely the simien girl runners, through friends in debark and decided quite spontaneously to volunteer there for 1 month in 2010. returning to debark for other 3 times, i could see what impact the creation of a running team there had. the initial group of the 10 simien girl runners grew to a "running school of almost 100 young runners, boys and girls, supported and trained by 3 coaches. so as fas as my experience concerns, i can attest that their project in debark was successful.
I have known the foundation since its beginning and followed them closely since then. I happen to attend their kick-off celebration, then became instantaneously inspired by their mission and sense of dedication to Ethiopian girl runners. And I have been in awe to see how much impact they have made since then--the founder and her small number of staff are so talented, dedicated, and appear to work extremely efficiently to make the kind of impact they have made since their start. On behalf of all wonderful Ethiopian girls whose lives were changed forever due to the hard work of the Girls Gotta Run Foundation, thank you for your dedication and keep up the excellent work!
This foundation absolutely rocks. All you have to do is take a look at the faces and expressions of the girls in the photos on the GGRF website to see that their lives have been absolutely changed. They have a new world of hope and possibilities thanks to GGRF and thanks to you if you donate. This foundation is making the world a better place, one girl at a time.
I discovered Girls Gotta Run Foundation through a story that appeared in Canadian Running magazine a few years ago. I was attracted to a number of things: First, it twins my athletic interests with my philanthropic perspectives -- I loved the idea of twinning gender, education, and sport. Second, it operates in an economic environment where a modest donation is enough to make a large impact. Third, it was (and is) an extremely grassroots organization that does a lot for a little. This was an organization where my relatively modest monthly donations would cumulatively mean more (as a proportion of total revenues) than in many of the other much larger charities I support. That gives me a tremendous sense that I am contributing. My donations are cross-border -- I donate from Canada -- and so are not tax deductible for me. But this is the charity to whom I donate with the most enthusiasm. I look forward to their reports and tales of their activities and wish them long life!
As an avid runner, I have a deep appreciation for how running provides confidence and discipline that carries over into all aspects of one's life. This is what Girls Gotta Run is about--helping girls use running as a vehicle to empowerment for themselves, their families, and their communities. Girls Gotta Run uses limited resources wisely to partner with other successful organizations that share our goals of improving the lives of women and girls in Ethiopia. I look forward to watching Girls Gotta Run expand their impact by helping more girls to "run their own worlds." Founder Pat Ortman and Executive Director Kayla Nolan deserve much praise for their fearless leadership in getting the organization to where it stands today.
I was introduced to Girls Gotta Run Foundation 5 years ago when I met the wonderful and incredibly dedicated co-founder at the gym for women that I manage in Washington, DC. I felt an instant connection with their mission of helping impoverished young Ethiopian women train to become professional runners, to support and empower them, to give them a better life... Since that day, my gym and I have supported them through participation in races, an art show, an athletic wear fashion show, and other fundraisers. Every time I put on my running shoes I think of those girls. I am so proud to be a supporter of Girls Gotta Run Foundation, and hope you will support them too!
I am a Co-Founder and was the first GGRF Executive Director and Chair of the GGRF Board. After operating exclusively as an all volunteer organization from 2006 to 2011, providing support for an increasing number of girls who successfully completed GGRF sponsored programs and went on to experience additional success in their lives as adults, we outgrew our capacity to operate as an all volunteer organization. Thus, in 2011 we hired Kayla Nolan, a recent college graduate with a degree in International Relations who had already spent a summer in Ethiopia working with women and girl runners under GGRF's aegis. For a modest stipend as our Director of Outreach, Research and Development, she worked closely with us for a year to become thoroughly grounded in our operations and to solidify the groundwork necessary to move GGRF to the next level, one that includes some paid staff. On October 1, 2012, she took over the position as E.D. Additionally, two extraordinary young women who had served on the Board for some time, working incredibly hard and very effectively, were ready to take leadership positions on the Board. Sheena Dahlke assumed the position of Chair of the Board; Ashley Griffith Kolme took over as Vice Chair. After one year under their leadership, I could not be more proud, pleased, or confident about the future of GGRF. They, along with the rest of the Board and our many supporters, partners, and the girls we support and empower, are doing a magnificent job. It is my pleasure to continue to advise, donate to, and volunteer with GGRF as it continues to grow and move forward.
As a young girl sports were important to me for a number of reasons. They were a positive outlet that allowed me to connect with other young women and make friends, they helped me enhance my leadership, interpersonal, and teamwork skills, and they provided a way for me to have fun and stay healthy. As I grew older I continued to develop a passion for social justice and an interest in international issues, I became more aware of the issues facing young girls in other countries. A personal connection to someone involved in GGRF provided me with an opportunity to support in whatever way I could, young girl trying hard to make better lives for themselves against a number of very difficult barriers. GGRF helps to remove some of these barriers so girls in Ethiopia can have greater opportunities to create the lives they dream of. As a woman, a runner, and a social worker I'm proud to support such a fantastic organization.
This year I donated the cost of 250 limited edition prints to create an awareness raising postcard that was included in the 55th Annual Grammy Award bags. I was proud to do this, and I hope that the awareness that was raised led to donations to the Foundation. I continue to show my artwork from Ethiopia (including images of the team I met in Addis Ababa) in shows in US, UK, and Mexico.
Anyway that I can, I work to make the lives of women and children better. No offense to the guys, but it if we can raise the safety and health of the world's women, then they in turn will be able to raise the next generation in a cocoon of love and safety. This is the way to change the world. Improve women's lives. Girls Gotta Run Foundation has found a unique way to accomplish this goal. The impact that these girls will have in their country over the next decades will be amazing to watch. I support them in the great work they are doing.
I have been exsposed to this Non-Profit for some tike now. My first experience with it was watching a sibling go to far reaches in other countries to help people she had never seen nor met before. At the moment I did not understand the depth of this cause, nor the motivation for it. The work of GGRF has shown me over time that simply believing and supporting soomeone, or some people, is literally how we change the world.
It is an orginization that has members and runner who have survived the etheopian heat, government opression, financial burdens, and even the Boston Marathon bombings. The audacity and tenacity of the People running this orginization, and the people running in it is endless.
Above all this orginization and its cause has taught me that there is always a positive way, and always people there willing to help.
This non-profit touched me deeply.
I first got involved with Girls Gotta Run Foundation in 2010 after one of my colleagues told me about her involvement in the foundation. Having a background in international development, girls' education and women's empowerment, and being a runner myself, I knew I wanted to get involved on a deeper level. I served a 3 year term as a Board Member for this foundation and was amazed by what the founder and organization was able to accomplish since starting the organization. The organization has done a great job of supporting young at-risk girls avoid early marriage and continue their education through the power of running.
As filmmakers with a project based in Ethiopia, we were looking for NGO partners to help in creating a sustainable project in the town we filmed in. We have been delighted to work with GGRF in Bekoji, where the foundation supports and co-manages the 'Bekoji project' allowing young female athletes in the town to continue the careers without having to take the chance of leaving their families and support system.
GGRF has provided wages, training clothes and shoes, extra food (calorie money), coach subsidies, and other training-related expenses. One of the greatest achievements has been training and supporting Fatiya, the towns first female coach, who has become an integral part of the athletics setup. We are very glad to be working with GGRF, and are currently discussing ways to expand the programme in Bekoji into the sphere of education.
I first learned about the Girls Gotta Run Foundation from a friend on Facebook who shared a request for "new or gently used" sports bras for girls training as runners in Ethiopia. I was moved by the stories of girls for whom a used sports bra or a pair of shoes would literally make a world of difference. I then went to the GGRF website and read their mission and what they do. Because GGRF support helps give these girls a chance at a much better life, I became a donor. What a wonderful group.
Growing up in Eugene, OR (Track Town USA) inspired an interest in running at an early age. But hearing Kayla Nolan speak passionately about Girls Gotta Run Foundation and their mission really opened my eyes to the enormous good that running can bring into the life of impoverished girls in Ethiopia. Talent can only get you so far, and GGRF provides the additional help to enable some to become professional athletes, and all to develop personal power. The GGRF not only provides the material support that enables these girls to train and run, it empowers them to further their education by staying in school, avoid early marriage and young pregnancies, and gives them a chance at a better life. That is an incredibly powerful outcome for a small involvement on my part. And as the GGRF says, "Strong Girls, Strong World!
The Girls Gotta Run Foundation has proven to be successful at helping Ethiopian girls avoid child marriage, continue their education, and become leaders in their communities. The sport of running helps to empower the girls and it provides them with a safe place to build friendships and confidence. When I saw how GGRF makes such a positive difference in the lives of Ethiopian girls, I knew I had to make a donation to this worthy cause. It is wonderful to know that the Girls Gotta Run Foundation is helping to create a better world, one strong girl at a time.
Girls Gotta Run is a small, committed and growing organization that empowers young Ethiopian girls through both athletics and education. I first learned of GGRF by looking at this unique artwork at a local bookstore here in Washington, DC. All of the pieces included shoes. Upon taking a closer look, I learned that a nonprofit had been started to give Ethiopian girls running shoes. Running was a way for them to delay marriage and invest in their own life. And they lacked shoes! I was a competitive runner in my day so I know how running had meant so much to me in terms of a platform for my life and my character. So, the least I could do was give a barefoot Ethiopian girl a pair of shoes and thus, a greater chance at life. So, I learned about GGRF and the rest is history. I have since joined the Board and continued my commitment to this great cause.
I joined the volunteering family at the Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF) in 2010 after attending a fundraising event they were hosting in Washington, D.C. I was immediately drawn to the organization, and wanted to contribute in whatever way I could. Having grown up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia myself, the mission and passion behind GGRF hits very close to home for me. I wanted to be able to create more awareness for the organization, and let the world know about the remarkable things that they are accomplishing. Having been involved from an online marketing and communications perspective for close to 2 years now, I'm incredibly proud to see all the growth and the increase in awareness and engagement with the the GGRF brand. Empowering the girls and providing them with these incredible opportunities to further themselves has deeply rooted effects on their lives. They're not just "training to become runners". That's too simplified. They're getting educated, developing as strong, young women and taking a stab at working towards a dream that may have not been otherwise recognized. The bottom line is, GGRF is a phenomenal collection of people all working in whatever capacity they can to bring change to these girls lives. And that's nothing short of incredible.
I joined this organization as an International Ambassador of Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF) in October 2011, after witnessing their work first hand in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In 2011, I spent four months in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as a Watson Fellow studying women’s empowerment through running. I spent four months living and training with athletes in two programs that receive funding from Girls Gotta Run Foundation, Running Across Borders and Team Tesfa’s Transitions Charity. Both of these organizations stood out to me as a particularly remarkable model for outreach programs working for women and girls’ empowerment. The determination and dedication of the athletes I worked with, who persevere in the face of all kinds of obstacles, inspired me to continue to support their efforts from afar. I have continued my advocacy I have raised funds by running races for the organization and organizing community fundraising events, such as a documentary screening.
I am thrilled about the most recent efforts of Girls Gotta Run, which are on the forefront of women’s empowerment in Ethiopia. I gave two guest lectures for a Sports Psychology course at Addis Ababa University, in which I led students studying to become professional coaching in a group discussion about the importance of athletics in Ethiopia and the role of a coach. Though higher education is expected to lead to many career opportunities, female college graduates struggle to establish an independent career in a society in which cultural norms prescribe the role of caretaker and housewife to females, while men pursue careers outside the home.
Girls Gotta Run Foundation is changing this. GGRF just recently recruited and hired the first-ever female coach in Bekoji, Ethiopia as part of their Bekoji Project. The Bekoji Running Project is a collaborative effort by Running Across Borders, the Town of Runners filmmakers Bekoji Youth and Sports Administration, and Girls Gotta Run Foundation to expand the economic opportunities of youth in Bekoji through running. Bekoji is a small farming town in the Ethiopian Highlands with an astonishing record of developing long distance runners. Girls Gotta Run Foundation is funding the training and mentorship of Bekoji’s first female coach. This is one example of the ways that the Girls Gotta Run Foundation expands leadership opportunities for girl runners, provides safe spaces for girls to train, and invests in peer mentoring.
There are many challenges and paradoxes inherent in providing social services; the question is how an organization can give most effectively, to produce the most positive long term results? GGRF does not just allocate donations, rather they provide resources for individuals to develop skills that will help them on the path to become more self-sufficient.
My experiences working with several different aid organizations around the world has been a lesson in the many challenges that they face, from resource management to social understanding. Everyone has admirable intentions, but intentions must be matched with a realistic understanding of challenges and unintended consequences, and active engagement in the work of the organization to increase the chances for positive long-term results. Girls Gotta Run Foundation employs all of the key factors to recognize and overcome the challenges in their work, and in doing so, Girls Gotta Run is a model organization for advancing the lives of girls and women in Ethiopia.
I visited a Girls Gotta Run training camp in Ethiopia while there to write a magazine article about why Ethiopian women are enjoying success. Of course, there's a huge story behind that story -- and Girls Gotta Run is helping to write it. Funds raised for this organization are fundamental to young girls getting proper coaching as well as mentorship and educational support for their own life choices. This organization is doing fantastic work. Support it, if you can.
author, journalist and running enthusiast
I raised funds for this organization in 2010 and have been staying connected over the years. It is a unique non profit that directly gets resources to girls that are interested in running as a way to support themselves now and into the future. There are success stories from this program and the board members and leaders are dedicated to the cause. Pat - the founder is passionate and started this project from the ground up.
I became involved with GGRF in 2008 after spending a summer training with a group of DC based Ethiopian runners. After experiencing their kindness and generosity and hearing stories about Ethiopia, I knew that I wanted to give back. When I heard about Girls Gotta Run Foundation later that summer, I knew that it was the perfect non-profit to volunteer for. While I was inspired by the Ethiopian runners, I was also inspired by Pat Ortman, the foundation's president, and her willingness to help out a group of girls whom she had never met in person. I liked that the foundation was run exclusively by volunteers and that the cause was both well conceived and executed. During my past two years with GGRF, the non-profit has expanded and now aids three teams of girls and several athletes on a team called Running Across Borders. The foundation has also received media attention recently, which has helped to bring the plight of the girls in Ethiopia closer to home. Another recent development has been that three of the original four athletes have started their own foundations to give back to other girls in Ethiopia - and these girls are still in the GGRF program themselves! In essence, GGRF's women's empowerment efforts have empowered and inspired these girls to help empower other girls. In one word, this is inspiring!
For several years now, GGRF has helped us at the Tesfa Foundation (www.tesfa.org) to fund a program called Team Tesfa. Team Tesfa is a professional track and cross country team in Addis Ababa, within which the Tesfa Foundation operates programs to support teenage girl athletes who are at risk, providing them with safe housing, education, and vocational skills. GGRF has been a reliable and professional and thoughtful partner. They fund athletic gear for the girls and women on our team, as well as some transportation, coaching, and nutrition costs. GGRF has made a significant difference in these women's lives, and helped the Team Tesfa program to get off the ground and expand its services to more women in need.
As one who is passionate about running as well as programs that empower girls and women in developing countries, I fell in love with Girls Gotta Run from the moment I heard Pat Ortman speak about the organization. Pat is a retired women’s studies professor who now spends her days working tirelessly to give some of the most vulnerable, yet determined girls in Ethiopia the chance to better their own lives, and in turn, the lives of their entire families and communities. Pat is a dynamo leader who is constantly working to engage energetic and dedicated individuals and organizations in this worthy cause. By focusing on strategic growth and commitment to the core mission, she keeps volunteers motivated and purposeful in their efforts on behalf of the girls. One of my primary roles as a Board member has been to link Girls Gotta Run with the extensive running community in the Washington, DC region. I have had the pleasure of speaking to local running groups, especially teams of girls participating in the Girls on the Run program for middle school girls. I was deeply touched when 40 middle school-aged girls from the Washington International School who were participating in Girls on the Run ran a lap-a-thon to raise thousands of dollars - enough to pay for around 100 pairs of shoes - for girls in Ethiopia who are running, literally, out of poverty and into opportunity. Imagine a girl in Ethiopia who loves running and aspires to become a professional runner. If she is given a chance to pursue her dream, she will become healthy and self-confident. As a confident girl, she will be more likely to delay early marriage and childbirth. She will advocate for her education and well-being, and her parents and community will respect her. Whether she becomes a professional athlete or not, she will be able to get job, help support a family, become a leader in her community, and live longer. Girls Gotta Run has a mission of making this story a reality for over 40 girls in Ethiopia. With a broader base of support, the impact of our work can be greatly magnified and reach the thousands of other girl runners who currently lack any support. Because of its innovative model, successful outcomes, and strong leadership, Girls Gotta Run greatly deserves recognition and support. I am honored to be associated with Pat and the organization’s other volunteers and friends.
It seems a very simple idea to provide running shoes so that young girls by being on a running team can stay in school and obtain an education. The other choice for many of these young women, girls really, is to be in an arranged marriage, often to a much older man. Over many obstacles; obtaining shoes in Ethiopia, transactions of money, setting up realiable resourses in the country, legal issues of setting up a non profit etc. the dream became a reality.
I first heard about Girls Gotta Run from a teacher at the school where I work and was immediately intrigued because of former work I have done in Africa in addition to my love of running (I coach cross country and track). The mission of the organization is extremely laudable at a time when women's rights and the oppression of women worldwide is becoming a more-recognized and crucial issue in the media. Having visited the girls in Ethiopia, I can attest to how committed and motivated these young women are to work their way out of poverty through running and make a better life for themselves as well as improve the situation of their families and communities. The girls being supported by Girls Gotta Run are also encouraged to stay in school (rather than marry and give birth at an early age), knowing full well that a good education will be equally important in their ability to one day support their families. Running is helping to not only keep them in school but give them the confidence, security, resources and nourishment to achieve these goals. Pat has done a good job of incorporating both the arts and running communities to help raise awareness and support for this important cause. She is very open to suggestions, input and feedback and is inspired by the stories of these girls on a daily basis, working painstakingly to bring them the support and resources that they need. I have loved being involved with this organization and its new and innovative way of helping to empower women in desperate need.
I first heard of GGRF through my daughter Pat. She asked my sisters and I to be part of her plan for the foundation. We thought it was a wonderful idea and just the idea of "new shoes!" for these marvelous young women is inspiring and saying "you are so worth it"! This foundation is a grass roots organization, run by unpaid volunteers, some who run themselves. Kudo's to all involved!
Although my exposure to Patricia Ortman and the Girls Gotta Run Foundation, Inc., I am highly impressed with Pat's dedication, with the serious thought that she has given in forming a Board of Directors and in making this Non-Profit organization stand out with it's business-like approach to day-to-day business. Moreover, the work that the Foundation does, encouraging girls and young women from Ethiopia who are struggling with poverty or with other circumstances that would inhibit their ability not only to identify their strengths, but to become confident that they can change their own destinies is so effective and successful. The Girls Gotta Run Foundation, Inc., is truly an organization that deserves recognition and praise.
I continue to support Girls Gotta Run and a year or so ago, I had a wonderful experience producing a promotional video for Girls Gotta Run. I worked directly with the director of Girls Gotta Run, Pat Ortman, as well as board members and volunteers in the process of producing the video. I conducted interviews with board members and volunteers and was inspired by their passion to the cause of empowering young girls around the world. For example, I was struck by Pat Ortman's story of how she learned about the struggles of young girls in Ethiopia through a newspaper article and was moved to take action to provide the simple yet crucial service of delivering running shoes to young women athletes in Ethiopia. It is inspiring to hear her story of recruiting her friends and family members to join the cause, including her fellow artists. I was impressed by the depth of volunteers' knowledge and experience with the issues surrounding Ethiopian girls and the powerful role that athletics and art play in their development. As a filmmaker, I love the creative spirit that pervades Girls Gotta Run, which makes great use of art, music, and other forms of cultural expression to further the organization's mission. For example, I loved being a part of a "shoe art show", a fund-raising event in which artists created paintings and sculptures incorporating shoes or running. Girls Gotta Run is an organization filled with creativity and positive energy, which really comes through in the video that I produced.
Since coming into contact with the executive director, Pat Ortman, and the GGRF group, I have been nothing but impressed with their passion, energy and organizational skills. What they're doing -- on the ground in Ethiopia -- to help young women there stay in school, avoid childhood marriage and disfiguring pregnancies at a young age -- is remarkable and inspiring. All girls, in all walks of life, should have a choice in their education, their profession, their reproductive health. Three cheers to GGRF for making this a reality in Ethiopia.
When I first met Pat Ortman, I was a participant in a Women's Caucus for Art show in Takoma Park that benefited Girls Gotta Run Foundation. I read the photos and heard the story, and I knew I wanted to help. I applied for a Fulbright to Ethiopia with a proposal to organize a visit to meet the girls while in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Connecting in country proved a challenge since internet, server, and power outages are frequent in Addis, but Pat stepped in from DC and made a call which allowed me to connect with the group. In August 2009, I taught one of the teams' English class with my colleagues (all teachers), and we shared sweet and salty tea over some really inspiring conversations. They taught me new words in Amharic, and it was clear that their lives and opportunities are dramatically increased by the resources that Girls Gotta Run Foundation. To actually hold their hands, embrace them, take photos, share stories was one of the most significant experiences I have had in adulthood. When I returned back to Philadelphia, I arranged a show of Women's Caucus for Art work at Holy Family University to benefit GGRF, and we raised money through art sales, donations, and a raffle. I have been independently fundraising through the sale of my photographs of women and children in Ethiopia, and I will continue to do with no stop. A coffee table book is planned for future fundraising. Overall, I am extremely pleased with my experiences with this nonprofit.
My husband, Stephen Fraunfelter, and I have lived all over the world as a military couple. We have seen the sadness that dictators and Iron Curtains lay at the feet of the people of their countries. And we know we cannot turn our backs or walk away from doing something to help. When Pat and Jim approached us for help we knew that all of the money we were giving to them would go to help the girls so we jumped right in. We are proud to see the work that GGRF has pulled together has grown into such a strong network of support. We do not have children and this is our way of paying forward for a stronger world by helping young people climb out of desperate situations. And we are blessed to be member of GGRF since its inception.
I first learned about Girls Gotta Run Foundation (GGRF) through their excellent and widespread reputation within the Washington DC running community. However when I learned more about their organization I realized a main strength: they reach out to so many more people than just runners. Their board of directors, advisory board, volunteers, and network of supporters spans the communities of not only running but also education, international development, and art. Through all of these connections they achieve unique success in two critical areas: 1) raising funds, and 2) distributing those funds in an informed, considered, and knowledgable way, such that their mission is achieved as effectively as possible. With regard to raising funds, it is a rare organization that can raise money through art sales, portions of online book sales, and marathon running all in the same year! It is this diversity of consideration that has enabled a small organization comprised entirely of volunteer help to nonetheless raise exceptional amounts of money. Then, with regard to distributing funds, GGRF has partnered with a total of four ‘teams’ of female Ethiopian athletes. These teams include Team Tesfa (20 girls), the Simien Girl Runners (10 girls), Team Naftech (7 girls), and Running Across Borders (my own organization; 5 girls). Team Tesfa and Running Across Borders are based outside of Ethiopia while the Simien Girl Runners and Team Naftech are operated entirely by Ethiopian citizens. Thus a balance of perspectives are represented among these partner groups, as are perhaps a balance of approaches toward the mission of supporting impoverished Ethiopian girls who are training to become runners. It has taken the diversity and balance of GGRF’s network to successfully make such a variety of connections, and carefully evaluate the funding needs of each group. GGRF is a unique and interesting foundation with a strong impact on the world through the mission it pursues.
My friend Pat Ortman, a DC area retired women's studies professor, was inspired by a Washington Post article titled