francine hardaway
4 min readDec 10, 2023

Got Crypto? Need a Tax Deduction? Let OTEF Help You

In 1995 I became a foster mom. It was such an unexpectedly harrowing experience for a woman who thought she could do anything that I wrote a book about it. In 2005, I stepped away from all my civic boards and commissions in favor of starting my own foundation called Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, so I could provide entrepreneurship opportunities to young adults like my own foster children who would be stuck in entry-level jobs if I didn’t help them out, or teach them how to run a business.

My original target was released felons, and we did a lot of programs for released felons, native Americans, and domestic violence victims before I stepped away from running the entrepreneurship programs myself, and the chairman of my board, Joan Koerber Walker, took over the direction of the foundation.

For the first six years, the foundation had raised money to do the training by having a conference, the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference that people in the community supported through their attendance. We had some amazing guests, like Matt Mullenweg, Robert Scoble and Mark Canter. They were all people I had met in Silicon Valley and encouraged to come speak in Arizona.

But I got bored with the amazing amount of work involved in holding the conference for a small return, and Joan took over trying to figure out how to fund OTEF.

In addition to being OTEF’s chairman, Joan serves as president and CEO of the Arizona Bioindustry Association or AZBio for short. She and the OTEF board began exploring how OTEF and AZBio could partner to support the growing health innovation sector in Arizona.

In 2014, OTEF began a collaboration with AZBio with the Student Discovery Zone Program. Over time, the program has provided over 1,400 Arizona high school and university students with the opportunity to connect with life science industry leaders and compete for merit based scholarships.

AZAdvances was the next step in our partnership. Created within OTEF, with support from AZBio, AZadvances program support the creation and commercialization of Arizona-based health innovations and prepares the future workforce.

  • AZAdvances Talent develops our future workforce with internships, mentoring, and scholarship opportunities.
  • Entrepreneurial Support that helps health innovators build strong companies and make valuable connections.
  • Mission Related Investments that are designed to support early-stage companies achieve milestones that make them more investable.

Joan has been nothing short of amazing, and all I have to do is stay out of her way. For example, two or three years ago when I was heavily involved in Bitcoin, I told Joan about cryptocurrency, and she learned how to accept crypto as a donation to OTEF. An organization called the Giving Block, to which OTEF belongs, accepts bitcoin and exchanges it for dollars that can then go to charitable foundations like ours.

The reason I’m telling you this is that bitcoin has had someone of a Renaissance this year, and some of you may have a tax bill that you would like to defray by making a contribution somewhere.

I would like to urge you to contribute to the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, because we can make it easy for you to get a tax deduction for your cryptocurrency. My partner, Joan, has done all of the background work to accept these donations, and we have gotten a surprising number of them over the years mainly because we make it simple and the United States government makes it hard to turn Bitcoin into dollars in the US.

And besides, we do good work. And we are now a 19-year-old nonprofit with nobody taking a salary.

So if you were thinking of some charitable giving that benefits under-resourced entrepreneurs or the growth of biotech in Arizona you now know how to solve a problem you may not have even known you had.

Anyway, Merry Christmas, my favorite foster felon is coming out of prison and needs an old car that he can work on and use as he gets out. Jerry has been working with Arizona Correctional Industries for the last few years on the Hickman’s Egg Ranch for $2.00 an hour. It’s intensely competitive to get these rare positions; it’s the equivalent of getting into Harvard. Jerry has landed a rare position as the “chickenshit manager.” I made up this job title, but the important thing is that when he gets out, he will have an apartment and a job. Hickman’s is known for its reentry program.

One day when you have nothing to do, you should read about Hickman’s Egg Ranch and its partnership with the state of Arizona. It’s low wage labor for the inmates while they are in prison, but if they have learned their lessons, and Hickman’s thinks they are worthy of employment, they are offered a place to live and a job as they adjust to the outside.

I would have no idea this existed if I didn’t have a foster son in prison who competed for it. Let’s all wish him well as he steps out into the world in two weeks, and if you want to help him and others, you can make a donation to OTEF so we can develop another re-entry program.

That’s the best I can do for positive news coming out at this time of year, and it actually is pretty positive! Happy Holiday to everyone.

francine hardaway

Co-founder, Stealthmode Partners, helping entrepreneurs succeed