About Us

TIES TO THE WORLD is a non-profit organization founded in 2006 by Ibis Schlesinger and her late husband Dr. John James with the purpose of assisting orphanages to become self-sustaining through the development of social entrepreneurial businesses.

Our vision is to help children living in orphanages become stable and successful citizens, able to support themselves and their families, by providing them with the tools, training, and opportunities to help achieve this goal.

As a first project, Ties to the World began working with an orphanage in Guatemala as a pilot study. The idea was establish a business venture to support the orphanage. Once the business model was established, the goal was to work with other orphanages in Latin American and then, those around the world.

Ties to the World also offered youth leaders in the United States with the same passion and zeal for social entrepreneurship the opportunity to serve and spend time in the orphanages in a variety of ways. It is one of the Organization’s core beliefs that, together, in partnership, we can provide orphans an opportunity to succeed.

Since 2007, along with getting the organization off the ground, Ibis led several trips to Guatemala, and with her -- numerous students from several universities (University of the Pacific, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, UC Santa Barbara, and others) as well as other international colleagues -- on her mission to find a business “project” that could serve as a means of sustainability for the orphanage, Hogar San Francisco Xavier.

It is been overwhelming and challenging, yet mostly, a very rewarding experience. For Ibis and her colleagues, volunteering as partners in their mission to assist orphanages become self-sustaining is something to be valued and taught.

Ibis strongly believes that the organization is a message of HOPE for many; the logo itself portrays a symbolic image of people, of all races and backgrounds, coming together in partnership to CELEBRATE LIFE, to rejuvenate, to shine, to be good, to connect – and bring forth all that makes us beautiful human beings. (Link to Logo)

Her program offers more than just internship opportunities -- it offers a valuable experience “to be a part of cutting-edge international social change”, as expressed by her in the organization’s website. Young adults are trained to use their talents, background and other goals as practice skills that will be appreciated by those less fortunate, in an attempt to teach them to become self-sustaining citizens.

The volunteer opportunities, however, are only the beginning. Students were challenged to create business ideas and plans for a business model that could further support the organization’s endeavors. Mushrooms, orchids, water, environmental oasis, printing, and other feasibility studies and business plans were developed by the students. (Past projects Students involvement)

The Orphanage build 2 green houses and to harvest and sell mushrooms. Ovens were donated and staff and teenagers learned to bake bread. (Link to businesses at the orphanage)

The idea to create a product that had a long shelf life, could be done and sold anywhere in the world and the children would be enriched by the experience of being part of the solution to poverty and it didn't involve child labor was like a magnet.

In 2009 Art to the World was born -- a line of paper products -- was a result of the efforts that have gone into researching what business could best serve as a start-up, that could yield sufficient growth, to become a model for both TTTW, as well as for other organizations in the future.

It therefore, is important to pursue, as the world becomes plagued by financial uncertainty during difficult times. Yet children in orphanages still need, and as social entrepreneurs, it is our responsibility to become change agents in the search for solutions.

By teaching them to fish, we are doing more that feeding them... Or as Ibis herself states, “With the same amount of funds required to support an orphanage for one year, we can create a business and assist the orphanage to become self-sufficient for many years to come.”

"Our mission is to establish a set of trade business practices that can help orphanges create financial self-sustaninability while teaching the children life skills and successful independent living."
–Ibis Schlesinger