Kristi Yamaguchi

Founder & Visionary of the Always Dream Foundation

What’s the background to the business?
The Always Dream Foundation ensures low income children have access to high quality books in the home through our Always Reading program. We provide tablets with a digital library for each participating kindergarten student, paired with family engagement strategies and support for building a reading routine at home. We believe that providing children with high quality books will help foster a love of reading and provide families the opportunity to read together (every day). It is our goal that every child achieves the potential to reach for their dreams. ADF currently serves Title I schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hawaii and Arizona.

What has been your experience working with OUM?
ADF was originally drawn to OUM for their experience and knowledge in the non-profit space, and since has grown to also appreciate their thoroughness, patience and understanding in working with a small organization such as ours. ADF would most definitely recommend OUM!

BUSINESS BRIEFING

What are your business goals for the next 12 months?
ADF will launch our newly redesigned Always Reading program in 5 schools during fall 2019. It is our intention to expand to additional schools in subsequent years and, as a result, we have set our fundraising goals higher to align with our growth ambitions.

Do you have any advice you wish you would have received when you started your business?
Be in it for the long haul…it’s a marathon not a sprint to success. I already knew this from being in athletics, but it applies to so many areas of business life too. It’s not always easy but when perseverance creates longevity, it says a lot. I’m proud that Always Dream is in its 23rd year of giving.

What is your best business decision that you feel you made?
To be a trailblazer. Not take the safe route. Living in the middle of Silicon Valley inspired me and the Foundation to be innovative in the early childhood literacy space by introducing 21st Century learning to come of our youngest students, kindergarteners.

What has been the toughest business decision you have made?
Real books are better, digital isn’t good for kids…etc.

Who is the person you most admire or is/has been a role model?
Both of my parents. They instilled in me the value of giving back to our community by example. They spent countless hours in the community volunteering-at school, sports functions, church functions. I’m so grateful for their guidance and support throughout my life. They also approach everything they do with a certain air of integrity. I feel I will always be striving to hit the bar they set.

What is it that you like least about your job role/title?
Being a nonprofit it’s all about “the ask.” I often remind myself that I’m not asking for me, but for the awesome children we serve. It’s hard feeling like you’re always asking for something, usually funding, from people.

What is your dream job?
I feel I’m living it!

BEHIND THE SUIT

Birthplace: Hayward, CA

Education: Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, CA

Favorite book: Charlotte’s Web by EB White

Favorite movie: The Sound of Music

What are your hobbies outside of work?
Attending the theater, as well as cheering for the San Jose Sharks, GS Warriors, and 49ers. Also, I enjoy anything to do with my daughters.