Pizza Ranch’s continues to make an impact in Southern Ethiopia through the schools it helps support through its coffee program. Pizza Ranch team-members recently visited Ethiopia to see how the schools were progressing. Each of the two schools has 200 children attending pre-k and kindergarten classes. Only 5% of Ethiopian children have access to pre-k or kindergarten.
The new school year is just starting up here and around the world. We wanted to share with you a picture from one of the graduation ceremonies held at the two schools in Ethiopia that Pizza Ranch’s coffee program supports. Each of the schools had their first graduating class of Kindergarten students. Graduation is a time of celebration for the students who attend Ethiopia Reads schools. It is a joyful occasion for parents who can participate in the academic growth of their children. "School graduations are the most important time of the year for students and families. They can celebrate their accomplishment and build upon their educational foundation at the next school they attend" says Ethiopia Reads Executive Director, Dana Roskey.
Two brand new furnished schools that are supported by Pizza Ranch's coffee program, opened their doors and welcomed 400 first-time students. The schools, which finished construction in April of this year, each have 200 students attending and are at 80% capacity. The two schools also employ 15 people in teaching and administration positions. “We thank the staff of Ethiopia Reads and the community members of Azedabo and Fundame for their commitment to seeing these schools through to completion and now, most importantly, their operation,” says Jon Moss, Pizza Ranch’s Chief Operating Officer. Each of the two schools were built next to existing 1st-8th primary schools to enhance and support existing educational systems. Pizza Ranch restaurants contribute $.50 for every pound of coffee they use in the restaurants to non-profit Ethiopia Reads to oversee the operation of two schools in the region where Pizza Ranch’s coffee is sourced.
Q: Tell us more about coffee’s role at Pizza Ranch®.
A: Some people are surprised that a “pizza place” would serve a great cup of coffee, but Pizza Ranch is a lot more than just a “pizza place,” and we’ve been serving Arabica quality coffee for the last eight years. Pizza Ranch provides a real community setting, and nothing fosters conversation like a cup of coffee. We’ll serve up around 2,000,000 cups of coffee in the year ahead, mostly as a part of our buffet offering.
Q: What led Pizza Ranch to partner with Ethiopia Reads?
A: My wife and I have adopted two boys from the Kembata-Tembaro region, and through that process we discovered first-hand the need for education in this region. We also discovered that some of the finest coffees in the world come from the same region. It just seemed really natural to me that something we are using every day in our restaurants could be part of the solution to improve the lives of the people who provide our coffee. We started searching out organizations doing work in bringing education and literacy to this region and were led to Ethiopia Reads.
Q: Tell us more about how the coffee partnership has developed.
A: In April, 2012, my wife and I visited Ethiopia along with Adrie Groeneweg (Pizza Ranch president and co-founder) and his wife. We toured a couple of schools operated by Ethiopia Reads and saw first-hand saw how smart the children were and how excited they were to be getting a great education. Another highlight of the trip was that we actually got to see Pizza Ranch’s new coffee in Ethiopia’s capital city and got to see and learn about the process of getting our coffee to the U.S. As part of this process we started building relationships with the key people who would help ensure Pizza Ranch would serve a fantastic coffee. We hope these relationships continue to grow so that we can benefit the coffee farmers of Kembata-Tembaro into the future.
Q: How have Pizza Ranch’s franchisees and managers responded to the program?
A: The response has been very positive. The whole Pizza Ranch community including franchisees, managers and the corporate office staff really stepped up big when learning of the new partnership. In fact, even before the first cup of Ethiopian coffee is served in a Pizza Ranch they raised the funds needed to build one of the new learning centers in Kembata-Tembaro for Ethiopia Reads. Our franchisees are really excited to be offering our guests a great cup of coffee that has a deep purpose. And with our guests’ help, we will be able to give something more to the people who provided that amazing cup of coffee.