Sandra Tyler and Barbara Moore
Global Neighborhood Fund co-founder Sandra Tyler, left, and KEEP (Kids Educational Engagement Project) founder and executive director Brenda Moore at a Santa Barbara Club luncheon. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)

The Global Neighborhood Fund recently celebrated its 10th anniversary with a luncheon and opportunity to meet one of its grantees, Brenda Moore, founder and executive director of KEEP (Kids Educational Engagement Project).

The nonprofit Global Neighborhood Fund was founded in 2009 by three Montecito women, Sandra Tyler, Connie Smith and the late Nancy Koppelman. The trio called for a change in thinking and a realization that we are all part of the global neighborhood and affected by events and economies far from our backyard.

The new group, they said, would create change by acting locally and giving globally.

Since that very first luncheon at the Santa Barbara Club, the Global Neighborhood Fund has blossomed into a large group of dynamic men and women who have generously provided critical support to various well-vetted grantees.

A focus of the group has been war-torn and disease-ravaged Liberia, where it is investing in programs supporting women’s economic and reproductive rights, education and clean water.

On Oct. 22, the high-spirited group returned to the Santa Barbara Club for a presentation by Moore. Her nonprofit organization, KEEP, is registered with the United Nations and the African Union, and works in Liberia to provide grassroots educational support at the primary school level.

KEEP also promotes empowerment and economic livelihood for women and girls, access to justice, promotion of rights in schools, strengthening youth education though computers and reading literacy programs, child sponsorship and advocacy.

Cindy Martin, Brenda Nancarrow and Lisa Wysel

From left, Cindy Martin, Brenda Nancarrow and Lisa Wysel. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)

Moore has been traveling throughout the United States to raise funds and awareness about KEEP’s mission and results.

A former human resources executive, Moore was inspired to create KEEP in 2017 after the social and educational isolation of the Western Africa Ebola outbreak piled on to Liberia’s misery, suffering and devastation from its two civil wars.

With many of the African nation’s schools and libraries destroyed, KEEP aims to improve literacy for children in rural areas who have no access to books.

Book by book and pencil by pencil, Moore and her team developed a template for building as many reading rooms as they can.

Global Neighborhood Fund

The Global Neighborhood Fund had its 10th anniversary lunch at the Santa Barbara Club, where the nonprofit organization was first announced. (Judy Foreman / Noozhawk photo)

There are no public libraries in Liberia, so local schools and communities are providing the space with volunteers and day-to-day operations. Since opening its first reading room, KEEP has established 14 reading rooms around the country and distributed 4,000 books.

To help KEEP reach its goal of 25,000 books, friends of the Global Neighborhood Fund have launched a book drive that will wrap up on Valentine’s Day. They are collecting used books for preschool through middle school students, ages 3-15.

Also welcomed are gently used backpacks and basic school supplies such as paper, water-based markers, crayons, No. 2 pencils, glue sticks, scissors, rulers, staplers, watercolor paints, flash cards and educational games.

Donations can be dropped off at 2190 Alisos Drive in Montecito or 1326 Vallecito Place in Carpinteria, or call 805.895.4840 for more information.

Click here for more information about the Global Neighborhood Fund, or click here to make an online donation.

— Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at news@noozhawk.com. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Judy Foreman

Judy Foreman, Noozhawk Columnist

Judy Foreman is a Noozhawk columnist and longtime local writer and lifestyles observer. She can be contacted at news@noozhawk.com. The opinions expressed are her own.