Dear VietHope’s friends
It is a great honor for Viet Anh Tran, Dat Le, and myself, VietHope’s new executive committee, to lead this tight-knit organization of talented and dedicated individuals who share a desire to make a difference in the lives of many disadvantaged students in Vietnam. Your tremendous support and encouragement, pouring in especially large amounts after the first quarter president’s letter, not only help us maintain our momentum during this transition period but also inspire our community to make more long-lasting improvements in educating more Vietnamese youths.
In the past quarter, we have met with enthusiastic donors and supporters in New York and San Francisco. We recruited new volunteers in Los Angeles and London. In this letter I would like to share two important updates, the Grace education program and efforts to modernize our volunteer community.
Grace education program
Since 2010, GRACE Education Fund (formerly through the New Moon Foundation) and VietHope have partnered to help financially disadvantaged students, with a total funding amount of $56,000, to develop and build communities around five core values: Gratitude, Respect, Accountability, Courage, and Engagement (G.R.A.C.E). In the second quarter of 2015, a team of 9 VietHope instructors have completed the second session of Grace Enrichment Activities for 100 students in Can Gio, Saigon from grade 6-10. During the one-day camp session, participating students learned the five G.R.A.C.E values through examples shared by our volunteer instructors, and created thank-you cards for whom they are grateful. The team is now actively working on methods to measure Grace sessions’ success and to prepare for the final, largest session of the 2014-2015 school year that provides students with resources to engage in entrepreneurial activities at their local schools and communities.
I am extremely proud of these students and the work that our volunteer team in Vietnam have done. As VietHope increasingly focuses on content-centric programs on “soft skills” not commonly taught in school, I believe that the Grace program positions VietHope well to deepen our impact on students, who will help not only themselves and their immediate family but also others. I would like to encourage you to check out photos of the aforementioned Grace camp session at the end of this letter; they warmed my heart and I am certain they will warm yours.
Modernize VietHope volunteer community
One major goal for VietHope’s new executive committee in 2015 is to improve our core infrastructure that makes our volunteers’ work more engaging and efficient. In the second quarter, we started to implement the following initiatives:
- Team communication. VietHope is a mostly virtual organization whose members live in different cities and continents, and communicate over emails, which means communication unity is usually a big challenge for many teams. We have adopted in our workflow, Slack, an online communication portal designed to focus on speed of communication, greater transparency, and quicker turnaround on projects. We have been testing Slack for various teams in Vietnam and America, with encouraging improvements in our productivity. We will implement this platform for the entire VietHope in the third quarter.
- Donor database. We rolled our new donor management processes and tools to help us better manage donor relationships. VietHopers now use DonorTools to more quickly reply to donors with better personalized thank you emails and tax receipts. Once the system is fully implemented, donors can create their own accounts and have all of their VietHope tax receipts in one convenient place.
- Mailbox automation. We are in the process of shifting our physical P.O. mailbox to an automatic tool where we can automate physical mail reception as well as check deposits.
I have great faith that these initiatives will save VietHopers a significant amount of time that can be spent on exciting and complex jobs. This long-term forward-looking project requires upfront investment in technology and will certainly bear great fruits in the future.
I hope you are as excited as I am to receive updates about the final session of our Youth Development Program, both will take place in July, in the next president’s letter. I also hope that with your generous support, we together will build a stronger and leaner organization that can serve many more deserving students in Vietnam. Online donations for students in the Grace and Youth Development Summit programs, as well as our two scholarship programs, Merit and University, can be made at our website. If you prefer airmail and are eager to test our new physical mailbox automation, please send your checks and letters to our new mailbox:
340 S Lemon Ave #9666
Walnut, CA 91789, USA.