Atti Worku’s Small School Makes Big Difference
School and Work Life
Atti Worku was born and raised in Adama, Ethiopia. She attended St. Joseph’s, a private school in her hometown, from kindergarten through twelfth grade. From a very early age, Atti noticed that her friends who attended public school were receiving quite a different educational experience than she was. Although she did not understand why these differences existed, she realized as she grew older that her peers were falling behind in school and dropping out. The children who attended public schools did not have access to many of the resources that Atti’s school did – from basic stationary supplies to running water.
Atti attended college in Ethiopia and began modeling. In 2005, she was crowned Miss Ethiopia and travelled to Dallas shortly after to sign a contract with the Campbell Agency. After a short but successful modeling career (she appeared in ads for Jean Paul Gaultier and Neiman Marcus), Atti decided to focus on her dream of building the best school in Ethiopia, an idea she had spoken about during her days as Miss Ethiopia. She moved to New York City from Dallas, founded Seeds of Africa, and began taking classes at Columbia University. Atti had studied computer science in Ethiopia, but chose to study sustainable development in New York since it was directly related to the work for her foundation.
Seeds of Africa
Atti’s mother has played a large role in the development of the school. It was initially located in her backyard, and eventually moved to its own facility. While Atti is working with the foundation from New York, her mother is onsite and able to be in constant communication with her daughter.
Seeds currently offers supplementary educational and tutorial services for students enrolled in local schools, as well as a full time curriculum for pre-kindergarten students. They also offer adult education classes and community development seminars and support.
This summer began the school’s “Year of Dreams,” during which they are hoping to start fundraising for their school expansion plan. In their larger “dream school,” as Atti has called it, they are hoping to introduce new programs and be able to admit far more students.
“By educating our children and providing the resources, we can combat the initial inequalities stemming from a vicious cycle of poverty, ensuring that the next generation will reach their full potential as leaders, educators, athletes, actors, musicians, and artists,” says Atti.