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A reflection & sharing of stories at Endless OS Foundation on International Women’s Day.

A collaborative blog post with the women I admire. With International Women’s Day as a source of inspiration, the women of Endless OS Foundation came together and we reflected on the significance of the day, looking back at our individual journeys and experiences. We are a diverse group of women who live and work across four continents spanning Taiwan, UK, various states in North America, with a new member joining from Brazil. It has been inspiring to hear the lived experiences of the women of Endless.


In exploring the significance of International Women’s Day, we all agreed that it is an opportunity to see women for who they are and to celebrate their choices and achievements on every level.


Here are 5 of our stories, and I'll get us started.


Oby Bamidele, VP of Operations and Finance: For me, International Women’s Day (IWD) is about celebrating womanhood and breaking social norms that limit and hinder the progress of women. I grew up in Nigeria until I moved to the UK at the age of 15, and the emphasis as a growing girl was always that a good education and career were the focus of my life. However as an adult, that message seemed to change where the focus was on getting married, having children and belonging to a family in a way that seemed to diminish my personal ambitions.


It’s been a journey learning to manage the tensions between embracing my goals and aspirations and the demands of family life and expectations. The inclusive culture at Endless has been invaluable in allowing me to prioritise both areas without the feelings of inadequacy that can arise when managing my schedule, especially over the last twelve months of the pandemic.


IWD is an opportunity to reflect on how far women all over the world have come in the face of challenges, disparities and inequalities – whilst there is still a lot of work to do.

IWD is always an opportunity for me to reflect on how far women all over the world have come in the face of challenges, disparities and inequalities. Whilst there is still a lot of work to be done, I believe there is much to celebrate such as the recent appointment of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as Director General of the World Trade Organisation. She is the first woman and African to lead the organisation and as a fellow Nigerian, I am inspired by her tenacity and fortitude to break barriers and forge a path for other women to follow. She didn’t allow those barriers to stop her from pursuing her personal ambitions even in the face of stiff opposition to her appointment.


Other women who have inspired me are Kamala Harris, who became the first African and Indian American female Vice President of the United States, and Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I am also inspired by two younger women, award-winning writer and poet Amanda Gorman who recently became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, and Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Prize laureate and activist for female education. Seeing the strides these young women are making fills me with much hope for my daughter who is a passionate creative.


In today’s modern world it is unconscionable that millions of people are without access to technology, and in many communities women are most disadvantaged. I am proud to be part of an organisation whose mission seeks to democratise access to technology and close the digital divide so that people can gain the tools and learn the skills they need to create their own opportunities in life.

This article's five contributors.

Top row: Oby, Geri, and Sabrina. Bottom row: Bunmi and Vanessa. (Shown left to right.)

Geri Vahey, Program Director:

I am honored to celebrate this International Women's Day with my Endless teammates. Throughout my professional journey at tech companies large (Apple, Macromedia) and small, none match this team's dedication to closing the equity gap through technology. I’m grateful to be here and share my unpredictable journey.


I am the youngest of five children of immigrant parents and was from an environment (Humboldt Park on the west side of Chicago) that didn't particularly foster curiosity about career opportunities. Through some luck I got involved in graphic design in college, which began a spate of 5-year tech careers that brought me to the heart of Silicon Valley in the roaring 90s. I got to wear a lot of hats, all with communication at the heart, and appreciate the opportunities that the software industry afforded.


Software management and drumming: both environments have historic diversity challenges to overcome, but it is my hope that we see opportunities growing in band rooms and boardrooms everywhere.

For sanity and stress relief, I play drums in the San Francisco rock band, The Seagulls. I’ve been struck by the parallels between software management and drumming; both require clear, direct communication that helps teams move forward in unison. Unfortunately both environments have historic diversity challenges to overcome, but it is my hope that we see opportunities growing in band rooms and boardrooms everywhere.

Sabrina Harvey, Finance & Operations Manager:

In all honesty it never crossed my mind to think of IWD as anything other than another day, but after coming together with the women at Endless it has made me stop, think and reflect on our lives. We come from different backgrounds, have different stories to tell, and yet all seemingly come together for the same purpose: to give everyone the same opportunities to be proactive, creative and most importantly learn. We all believe everyone has that right, and it's our mission to help connect people and communities to technology. And while we are a small group of women at Endless, our presence is far-reaching.


I grew up in a working-class family, my parents are of mixed cultural backgrounds and I am the middle sibling to two brothers. I was both un/fortunate to have grown up experiencing a variety of life-developing experiences alien to most. My father was in the RAF which gave way to travelling and exposure to multicultural families who all came together from around the world and lived as one community. In my youth this is all I had ever been accustomed to, and there were never any limitations set on what I as a woman could do.


The downside to this was having to face reality when settling back into civilian life from day one and seeing the prejudices that people have towards others for any given reason – sex, religion, race, culture, the list goes on. This suddenly made the world a very intimidating place. My education suffered at its most critical having to leave from one country to another in-between exams, but this didn’t stop me from building the life I wanted for myself. At one pivotal point in my very young adulthood I had two jobs working full-time, while studying at college full-time, raising a teenager full-time (my younger sibling), and taking care of a household and all the bills on a low income wage. I believe in life we are here to learn, grow and not be held back by constraints. I learned not to take anyone or anything for granted and to work towards my achievements and successes even when things don’t seem fair, but at the same time try to not take life too seriously.


I am happy and proud of where I stand today, and want other women to be able to feel the same sense of accomplishment – no matter how big or small.

To work for Endless and help give others these opportunities by lifting a few of the constraints and maybe just make life a little bit easier, means so much to me. I am happy and proud of where I stand today and want other women to be able to feel the same sense of accomplishment, no matter how big or small. I started out with only a small pocketful of money and a return plane ticket to Cyprus (should I fail at making a life for myself). I got my first job as a hotel maid and server and have gone on to become the operations and finance manager here at Endless. I am married to a man who has worked hand-in-hand with me to make the home I couldn't have imagined possible, and while my life has and continues to have many unforeseen ups and downs (s**t will happen), as individuals we pick ourselves up, we carry on, we stay strong.


Vanessa Chang, QA Engineer:

I'm grateful to share my thoughts of International Women's Day for the first time.


I live in Taiwan, a traditional Asian culture country, where males are more valued than females. Luckily, our society is also growing while I am too. Last year, we passed a registration for gay marriage, which is a big milestone for the LGBT community and also embraces the topic of women's rights. I see a big movement in gender equality, which also embraces the rights of women to speak up and express themselves in Taiwan, and the whole world. Fortunately, I work in Endless, which offers a gender equality working environment that allows us to express our thoughts and appreciate everyone's efforts.


For me, celebrating International Women's Day is more about encouraging people to be themselves regardless of their gender, and to listen but not judge people with a different standpoint – these are the traits and the power of women: strong and gentle-minded.

Hopefully there is a day when all people are living in a truly equal society without any bias or stereotypes, and we as people appreciate each other for being our true selves.


For me, International Women's Day is about encouraging people to be themselves regardless of their gender, and to listen but not judge people with a different standpoint.

Bunmi Esho, Program Director:

When I think of International Women’s Day, I’m taken back to my time as a middle school student at an all-girls boarding school in Nigeria. During my tween years (12-15 years of age), at a time when I was navigating through puberty, I was also learning what leadership looked like through student leaders, teachers and our Headmistress, Mrs. Coker. *Who, by the way, was the ultimate boss!*


Being surrounded by women leaders, supporters, coaches, mentors and advocates who look like you early on in life makes a difference. I know it made a difference for me. It’s because of that community I became a chemical engineer. It’s because of that community I volunteered in college and at the start of my career journey. It’s because of that community I became an educator, a nonprofit leader and a philanthropist. It’s also through those early experiences that I knew and believed that I could do anything and be anything, including travel the world, and live and work in Southeast Asia.


My role, my voice and my memories, can help shape what is to come for girls like me. Your dreams are endless!

When I moved to Southeast Asia in 2015, it was the first time that I noticed International Women’s Day being celebrated. It made me really take stock of America's place in the world when it came to gender equality. Six years later, as a part of the Endless OS Foundation, when I think of the work we’re doing to dismantle the barriers around digital access in the United States and abroad, I think of the tween girl of yesteryears. My role, my voice and my memories, can help shape what is to come for girls like me. Your dreams are endless!


Thanks to the women of Endless for sharing their stories – how you sparkle! ... and thanks for taking the time to read our post. I hope you have been inspired to connect with your colleagues, family and friends to share your own stories, challenges, and the futures you see. I truly believe these conversations are key to harnessing the power we have as a global collective – of women, unified in the causes that capture our imaginations and hearts.


I’d love to connect and hear your thoughts. Feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, or at oby@endlessos.org.



About the author: Oby Bamidele is the VP of Operations and Finance at Endless OS Foundation (EOSF). She started out her career as a management accountant and subsequently transitioned into General and HR Management. She has over 10 years senior management experience working in tech startups, where she’s been instrumental in building the internal capabilities and overseeing business operations.



Updated: Feb 3

Why 2021 will be the year of social impact via partnerships for our team and partners.


How I discovered the power of partnerships.

About 20 years ago, I’d started my first “real job” at a tech company when a good friend of mine asked that I join her in volunteering for a local after-school program. If I was being honest, working with children was never something I aspired to do but I figured I could support my friend for one evening. That was the day I found my calling.


The students I worked with were 3rd, 4th and 5th graders and a lot of their realities mirrored mine: children of immigrants, multilingual background, Black and Brown, navigating a system with structured barriers. I spent two years volunteering with the program, while adding more volunteer opportunities to my plate, before coming to the conclusion that I needed to pursue this as a full-time career. I left my job to pursue a master’s in education, taught for a few years and learned what had already been evident for me as a volunteer: to make the type of impact I wanted, I needed to be doing the work outside of the classroom, in partnership with the school and community at large; that started my journey into educational nonprofits and the power of partnerships.


Partnerships move mountains but are not easy. Real partnerships force us to look inward, to do the necessary self reflection to improve ourselves. They help seed innovation. They are vital for inclusivity.

In my career as an engineer, educator and nonprofit leader, the partnerships I’ve formed have been critical to the work I’ve done. Partnerships move mountains but they are not easy. Real partnerships force us to look inward, to do the necessary self reflection to improve ourselves. They help seed innovation. They are vital for inclusivity. And in 2021, at a time when the pandemic has highlighted the ever-increasing digital and education gap in our society, the Endless OS Foundation is making partnerships our call to action.


There is too much at stake to assume that classrooms like this will return for all in 2021.

Why partnerships? Why now?

Endless started eight years ago with a focus on bringing digital access and agency to youth in emerging markets like Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia because, like many in the US, we thought this was the immediate need. In time, we learned that the digital barriers we were aiming to solve –device, internet, literacy and engagement– were nearly as prevalent in the United States: of the 51 million K-12 public school students in the US, we have 12-16 million who are still digitally divided. That’s nearly 30% of students in the United States. While Broadband For All has become a national catchphrase, the reality is that estimates put the goal up to ten years away, in addition to the majority of current efforts being only temporary solutions. The longer we wait for broadband, the wider the gap becomes for one-third of our student population. They can’t wait, we need innovative partnerships and solutions now.


Of the 51 million K-12 public school students in the US, we have 16 million who are digitally divided. That’s nearly 30% of students. We need more partnerships and solutions now.

At Endless, we know that the solutions cannot be championed by us alone. In April 2020, we became a nonprofit to focus squarely on the question of how to maximize our social impact. Just as we’ve looked to technology partnerships in the open-source community to make the Endless OS available and affordable, we need partnerships beyond the software community. With hardware partners we are developing a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) platform, to provide families with affordable payment options for their starter computer. Nonprofit partners like Learning Equality, the creator of the Kolibri Learning Platform that provides learning resources to students with no or limited internet, ensure that educational content can be accessible via the Endless OS and the Endless Key, a customized USB that runs on MacOS and Windows-based computers. And with Common Sense (Media) and their Wide Open School partnership of content providers, we ensure that these students have access to high quality content whether it’s through our Endless Key or Learning Equality’s Kolibri Learning Platform, with the support and collaboration of education leaders and educational nonprofits.


At Endless, we know that solutions cannot be championed alone. As the pandemic widens the digital and education gap, we are making partnerships our call to action for 2021.

What our partners are saying about collaboration in 2021.

"So many kids and teens have lost months of learning during the pandemic, and we have to act now to help them reach their full potential. That's why Common Sense is a proud partner on the Endless Key project and the #KeepAllKidsLearning campaign. It's critical that we make sure kids and families have access to high-quality learning and enrichment resources now, while simultaneously raising awareness about the needs they have and putting in place the long-term infrastructure to end the digital divide once and for all. It's a big problem to tackle, and partnerships like these across organizations will be critical to success." — Rebecca Randall, SVP Development & Regional Growth, Common Sense


“To address the resource and infrastructure gaps in low-connectivity environments, Learning Equality has always been focused on developing needs-based solutions that support effective learning. We are thrilled to be working alongside our collaborators, and are excited by the potential for new educational providers to join in to promote the importance of supporting continuity of learning for students without reliable Internet at home.” — Jamie Alexandre, Learning Equality’s Co-Founder and Executive Director


Without strategic alliances formed with leading nonprofit organizations like Common Sense and Learning Equality, our initiatives would have a much smaller impact and success. But together the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


As we deeply think about our partnerships, it's important to jointly call out what pathways and results specifically look like. To us, it's critical right now to keep all kids learning. With that in mind we and our educational resources partners are rallying around the #KeepAllKidsLearning campaign. Throughout 2021, this campaign will spread the word about offline learning resources for families and encourage educational content creators to make their online resources available as a free download, and distributable via offline channels like the Endless Key if possible.


So many kids and teens have lost months of learning during the pandemic, and we have to act now to help them reach their full potential ... partnerships will be critical to success.

What’s next for us and the nonprofit community?

As we continue to work on solving the barriers to digital access for our younger members of society, a question I continue to ponder is: “What should innovative education look like during this time?” Many educational experts, scientists and physicians have hotly debated what students need during this time, looking at old ways of schooling as a model. The truth of the matter is that these pre-pandemic modes of learning haven’t worked for our most vulnerable students. So, what will work, and what should we try? I believe that our partnerships at Endless will lead us to some of those answers in 2021.


What are you doing to increase your organization’s impact this year? Are you considering how your current partnerships could contribute, and maybe how to forge some new alliances? I’d love to hear how you are doing in this area. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or bunmi@endlessos.org



Bunmi Esho is the Program Director at the Endless OS Foundation (EOSF). She is an engineer, educator and nonprofit leader with over 20 years of experience, the last fifteen years with educational nonprofits in California and Southeast Asia.

  • Robert McQueen

How our for-profit company became a nonprofit, to better tackle the digital divide.

An 8-year journey to becoming a nonprofit:

On the 1st of April 2020, our for-profit Endless Mobile officially became a nonprofit as the Endless OS Foundation. Our launch as a nonprofit just as the global pandemic took hold was, predictably, hardly noticed, but for us the timing was incredible: as the world collectively asked “What can we do to help others in need?”, we framed our mission statement and launched our .org with the same very important question in mind. Endless always had a social impact mission at its heart, and the challenges related to students, families, and communities falling further into the digital divide during COVID-19 brought new urgency and purpose to our team’s decision to officially step in the social welfare space.


On April 1st 2020, our for-profit Endless Mobile officially became a nonprofit as the Endless OS Foundation, focused on the #DigitalDivide.

Our updated status was a long time coming: we began our transformation to a nonprofit organization in late 2019 with the realization that the true charter and passions of our team would be greatly accelerated without the constraints of for-profit goals, investors and sales strategies standing in the way of our mission of digital access and equity for all.


But for 8 years we made a go of it commercially, headquartered in Silicon Valley and framing ourselves as a tech startup with access to the venture capital and partnerships on our doorstep. We believed that a successful commercial channel would be the most efficient way to scale the impact of bringing computer devices and access to communities in need. We still believe this – we’ve just learned through our experience that we don’t have the funding to enter the computer and OS marketplace head-on. With the social impact goal first, and the hope of any revenue a secondary goal, we have had many successes in those 8 years bridging the digital divide throughout the world, from Brazil, to Kenya, and the USA. We’ve learned a huge amount which will go on to inform our strategy as a nonprofit.


Endless always had a social impact mission at its heart. COVID-19 brought new urgency and purpose to our team’s decision to officially step in the social welfare space.

Our unique perspective:

One thing we learned as a for-profit is that the OS and technology we’ve built has some unique properties which are hugely impactful as a working solution to digital equity barriers. And our experience deploying in the field around the world for 8 years has left us uniquely informed via many iterations and incremental improvements.



With this knowledge in-hand, we refined our strategy throughout 2020 and are now starting to focus on what it really means to become an effective nonprofit and make that impact. In many ways it is liberating to abandon the goals and constraints of being a for-profit entity, and in other ways it’s been a challenging journey for me and the team to adjust our way of thinking and let these for-profit notions and models go. Previously we exclusively built and sold a product that defined our success, and any impact we achieved was a secondary consequence of that success and seen through that lens. Now our success is defined purely in terms of social impact, and through our actions those positive impacts can be made with or without our “product”. That means that we may develop and introduce technology to solve a problem, but it is equally as valid to find another organization's existing offering and design a way to increase that positive impact and scale.


We develop technology to solve access equity issues, but it's equally as valid to find another organization's offering and partner in a way that increases their positive impact.

The analogy to Free and Open Source Software is very strong – while Endless has always used and contributed to a wide variety of FOSS projects, we’ve also had a tension where we’ve been trying to hold some pieces back and capture value – such as our own application or content ecosystem, our own hardware platform – necessarily making us competitors to other organizations even though they were hoping to achieve the same things as us. As a nonprofit we can let these ideas go and just pick the best partners and technologies to help the people we’re trying to reach.



Digital equity … … 4 barriers we need to overcome: Going forward our decisions around which projects to build or engage with will revolve around 4 barriers to digital equity, and how our Endless OS, Endless projects, or our partners’ offerings can help to solve them. We define these 4 equity barriers as: barriers to devices, barriers to connectivity, barriers to literacy in terms of your ability to use the technology, and barriers to engagement in terms of whether using the system is rewarding and worthwhile.


We define the 4 digital equity barriers we exist to impact as: 1. barriers to devices 2. barriers to connectivity 3. barriers to literacy 4. barriers to engagement

It doesn’t matter who makes the solutions that break these barriers; what matters is how we assist in enabling people to use technology to gain access to the education and opportunities these barriers block. Our goal therefore is to simply ensure that solutions exist – building them ourselves and with partners such as the FOSS community and other nonprofits – proving them with real-world deployments, and sharing our results as widely as possible to allow for better adoption globally.


If we define our goal purely in terms of whether people are using Endless OS, we are effectively restricting the reach and scale of our solutions to the audience we can reach directly with Endless OS downloads, installs and propagation. Conversely, partnerships that scale impact are a win-win-win for us, our partners, and the communities we all serve.


Engineering impact: Our Endless engineering roots and capabilities feed our unique ability to build and deploy all of our solutions, and the practical experience of deploying them gives us evidence and credibility as we advocate for their use. Either activity would be weaker without the other.


Our engineering roots and capabilities feed our unique ability to build and deploy digital divide solutions.

Our partners in various engineering communities will have already seen our change in approach. Particularly, with GNOME we are working hard to invest in upstream and reconcile the long-standing differences between our experience and GNOME. If successful, many more people can benefit from our work than just users of Endless OS. We’re working with Learning Equality on Kolibri to build a better app experience for Linux desktop users and bring content publishers into our ecosystem for the first time, and we’ve also taken our very own Hack, the immersive and fun destination for kids learning to code, released it for non-Endless systems on Flathub, and made it fully open-source.



What’s next for our OS? What then is in store for the future of Endless OS, the place where we have invested so much time and planning through years of iterations? For the immediate future, we need the capacity to deploy everything we’ve built – all at once, to our partners. We built an OS that we feel is very unique and valuable, containing a number of world-firsts: first production OS shipped with OSTree, first Flatpak-only desktop, built-in support for updating OS and apps from USBs, while still providing a great deal of reliability and convenience for deployments in offline and educational-safe environments with great apps and content loaded on every system.


However, we need to find a way to deliver this Linux-based experience in a more efficient way, and we’d love to talk if you have ideas about how we can do this, perhaps as partners. Can the idea of “Endless OS” evolve to become a spec that is provided by different platforms in the future, maybe remixes of Debian, Fedora, openSUSE or Ubuntu?


Build, Validate, and Advocate: Beyond the OS, the Endless OS Foundation has identified multiple programs to help underserved communities, and in each case we are adopting our “build, validate, advocate” strategy. This approach underpins all of our projects: can we build the technology (or assist in the making), will a community in-need validate it by adoption, and can we inspire others by telling the story and advocating for its wider use?


We are adopting a “build, validate, advocate” strategy. 1. build the technology (or assist in the making) 2. validate by community adoption 3. advocate for its wider use

As examples, we have just launched the Endless Key as an offline solution for students during the COVID-19 at-home distance learning challenges. This project is also establishing a first-ever partnership of well-known online educational brands to reach an underserved offline audience with valuable learning resources. We are developing a pay-as-you-go platform and new partnerships that will allow families to own laptops via micro-payments that are built directly into the operating system, even if they cannot qualify for standard retail financing. And during the pandemic, we’ve partnered with Teach For America to focus on very practical digital equity needs in the USA’s urban and rural communities.


One part of the world-wide digital divide solution:

We are one solution provider for the complex matrix of issues known collectively as the #DigitalDivide, and these issues will not disappear after the pandemic. Digital equity was an issue long before COVID-19, and we are not so naive to think it can be solved by any single institution, or by the time the pandemic recedes. It will take time and a coalition of partnerships to win. We are in for the long-haul and we are always looking for partners, especially now as we are finding our feet in the nonprofit world. We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or rob@endlessos.org



Rob McQueen is CEO at the Endless OS Foundation (EOSF). Rob is an experienced engineering manager and company leader, and has been a user, developer and advocate for a Free and Open Source Linux desktop for nearly 20 years. Based in Cambridge, United Kingdom, Rob also currently serves as the President of the GNOME Foundation, a 501(c)(3) in the open source desktop space.

Endless OS Foundation LLC is a program of Endless Network Inc., a 501(c)(4) social-welfare non-profit.

© 2021 Endless OS Foundation LLC. All Rights Reserved.  Privacy Policy.  Redistribution Policy.  

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