What is the name of your organization?
Edith Mitchell Health Initiative
Is your organization registered as 501(c)(3) status with the IRS?
In what city, town, or region and state is your organization headquartered?Mobile, AL, USA
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address? [Select up to 2]
What is the name of your solution?
"Edith Mitchell Health Initiative - Grads, Grands and Veterans"
What is your solution?
The Edith Mitchell Health Initiative, or EMHI, hires recent graduates, retired grandparents, and discharged veterans to re-engage disenfranchised workers back into the workforce as a part of our “Grads, Grands, and Veterans” Initiative. These workers either have too little or too much experience from life, which is applicable in transferring knowledge and learning, and yet, possess no formal teaching experience, certification, or training required for traditional workforce entry methods for K-12 education. Through the use of innovative ed tech, our Academic Coaches can engage with students to foster meaningful discourse in their zones of proximal development where individual student learning occurs. This discourse occasions both standardized test score increases and college and career readiness benchmark attainments. Our methodology, the Belle Method of Academic Currency ©, strengthens the entrepreneurial and educational workforce development pipeline by generating teachers with “with-it-ness” and practical classroom management skills without the need for Praxis testing or enrollment in costly and time-consuming collegiate second-career teacher education programs. Our human-centered design focus places adults with experiential wisdom and classroom management skills in spaces experiencing teacher shortages and disruptions to the learning environment. Authentic learning happens because value-added educational exchanges occur when real elders encourage and educate real youngsters from the same communities. Reciprocal interactions foster creative and innovative inter-generational solutions to educational problems, providing products and services that cater to the individual needs of the students served.
Film your elevator pitch.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
Local zip code assigned U.S. K-12 schools/districts are not meeting the learning and CCR credentialing needs of BIPOC, LatinX, and rural FGCS in culturally-competent ways. My "why" is to address this access gap with innovative ed-tech strategies fostered by new business models that produce evidence-based best practices for systemic adoption. I know first-hand how educationally limiting "zip-code" zoning can be to gaining access to postsecondary college and career pathways, as I experienced survivor guilt from being the only student-athlete in my community afforded the early ACT testing opportunity based upon my athletic prowess. I was a 12-year-old entering Freshman track athlete who was transferred from my community's "poor-performing/failing" school to the IB high school "across the tracks" due to scoring a high academic merit-based scholarship earning and athletic NCAA clearing ACT test score early. My residential zip code, academic and athletic potential had stayed the same. However, my access to educational opportunities through brick-and-mortar test prep businesses was invaluably "relocated." My early and high ACT score occasioned a debt-free trajectory to earning four degrees, including my terminal doctoral degree. Since age 12, I've set out to make early ACT test preparation access the "rule" and not the "exception" for the under-resourced, facing the "wicked problem" of educational equity head-on using innovative ed-tech. Through skillful intention and downstream focus, I have used ed-tech to create an internal business incubator for my "Grads, Grands, and Veterans"! Each disenfranchised worker group is empowered through the use of technology to create a personal business based on their service role within SCHOOLS. Therefore, my parent company has birthed more than 10 additional innovative companies springing from the logistical ingenuity of my downline employees attempting to streamline operations and offer superior customer service by meeting unmet customer needs!
COVID made it impossible for schools/districts to conveniently ignore the gaps experienced by students residing in underserved communities. Access gaps from broadband limitations occasioned irreversible learning losses. The potential of the students enrolled did not fail. The educational systems servicing them failed. In partnership with other organizations with similar equity-minded missions and visions, SCHOOLS gave students hope through skillful intention and downstream focus, offering a debt-free solution to their first chance at CCR credentialing, college access, and career choice. We removed barriers and fostered inclusive learning environments, especially for non-traditional learners like women in advanced manufacturing jobs and men in nursing. We are actively moving towards a future where education is accessible to all. We focused on expanding educational opportunities, particularly for underserved communities. We empowered providers to offer diverse educational options, ensuring that every student had access to a high-quality learning experience. By granting permissionless access to providers, we enabled them to develop unique approaches that catered to student's diverse needs and interests. Permissionless access encouraged creativity, flexibility, and personalized learning, fostering a more engaging and effective educational environment. Our work emphasized parental empowerment, providing resources and support to help them make informed decisions about their children's education.
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?
A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Who does your solution serve, including demographics, and how does the solution impact their lives?
My target student demographic is the 35,316 BIPOC, LatinX, and rural ACT "test avoiders" who reside in the under-resourced Alabama communities of Birmingham City, Dallas County, Jefferson County, Mobile County, and Montgomery County, 100% of which receive free/reduced lunch and attend 1 of the 79 "Poor Performers" (poor performing schools listed on the State of Alabama's failing schools list) of the available 1,629 Alabama Education Institutions. SCHOOLS has been most successful with raising ACT composite test scores +5-10 points in 8th-grade BIPOC, LatinX, and rural ACT "test avoiders" who are 2 to 3 grade levels behind in literacy and numeracy that attend the lowest 6% of "Poor Performers" that receive Title I Funds through individualized self-paced instruction and non-traditional learner pathways, positively moving school accountability metrics and changing the failing school narrative towards successful individual student CCR credentialing.
Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.
The "Grads, Grads, and Veterans" Initiative aligns most closely with the following two dimensions: employee advancement and business development and procurement. As we promote from within, our employees' success rate in replicating our established successful virtual business model when owner-operating their individual branches of our enterprise is greater than 95%. We retain 96 cents per B2B or B2C dollar procured. We willingly share our processes and procedures with our owner-operators to promote holistic management through 360-degree feedback. Our established career pathways for ownership upskill and reskill our existing talent pool of Academic Coaches who offer test prep, advancing each from value consumer to value producer with minimal personal financial risk. We do not charge franchise fees. As our Academic Coaches have all taught group ACT prep classes (our product), managed logistics, and streamlined operations virtually for the parent company, becoming owner-operators requires scaling the number of their existing virtual classes, a transition that usually occurs with ease. We have literally created an internal business incubator for our Academic Coaches wishing to explore employee human resources, mid-management, and mid-career advancement. By extending our contractual network of available students and institutions, we connect our owner-operators to vendors, suppliers, and networks that require supplemental educational service provision for under-resourced students receiving federal Title 1 funds, transforming their ability to both continue to do business and to expand business opportunities to a larger market.
What is your theory of change?
Our mixed-methods inquiry of recent program completers from post-COViD (2022-2023) and archival program records data review (2018-2022) recognized trends affecting student self-efficacy and self-esteem stemming from the effects of systemic institutional inequities or socioeconomic and environmental determinants requiring a new theory of change. "A theory of change refers to a belief or perspective about how a situation can be adjusted, corrected, or improved.” (Tuck & Yang, 2012, p. 10). Two-fold in nature, my theory of change has the underlying assumption that a persistent procedural ACT score attainment knowledge deficit exists for traditional and non-traditional students, binding their agency and self-efficacy, coupled with limited access to high-quality, cost-effective ACT test preparation services and ACT test registration assistance. Creating a tech ecosystem that generates value-producing businesses as franchises of our parent model without costly franchising fees expands current conversations regarding student attrition, retention, achievement, graduation, and certification into workforce development considerations, creating a counternarrative exploring a possible relationship between ACT test preparation, ACT test registration service access barriers, and ACT score attainment failure. ACT score attainment K-12 problems of practice are not routinely addressed systematically at the 2-year or 4-year collegiate institutional level, though procedurally noted. My assumptions embed in my ontological and epistemological accountability to both the K-12 students I test prep, the 2-year and 4-year college administrations I advise, and the community stakeholders to which I report.
What is your solution’s stage of development?Scale: a sustainable product, service or business model that is active in multiple communities, which is capable of continuous scaling, focusing on increased efficiency.
What is your organization’s stage of development?Scale: A sustainable organization actively working in several communities that is capable of continuous scaling and has a proven track record, earns revenue, and is focused on increased efficiency within its operations.
How many small businesses does your solution currently serve?
Our current, one-year and five-year service projections are listed below. SCHOOLS, in partnership with Alabama Possible, currently serves 354 high schools reached through the Alabama Goes to College Campaign, with virtual direct service to an additional 2,500 B2C students. In one year, we will expand to service our existing clientele stated above plus serve as many of the additional 5,000 8th graders attending the 13 “poor performer” middle schools across Alabama with our $250K total yearly budget allocation. The $250K total yearly budget allocation covers personnel, engagement, and resources, divided annually into two (2) State Coordinators at $50,000 + 29.8% fringe/benefits ($129,800), Engagement and Virtual and In-person Parent Nights three times a year in October, January, and March ($11,000), and ACT Preparation Course Subscriptions including Family and Student Postsecondary Planning, Guidebooks, and Webinars ($109,200). Our immediate expansion would conclude 2023 with additionally servicing the 79 poor-performing school districts in Alabama. In five years, our goal is to have expanded into the remainder of Alabama, and the entire states of Louisiana and Mississippi. Our five-year projections for students served per ESSER funding allocated for supplemental educational service provision through Fiscal Year 2026 are as follows: Alabama (734,012 students/$216 million), Mississippi (470,666 students/$169 million), and Louisiana (637,434 students/$286 million). After Fiscal Year 2026, we would begin scaling for expansion throughout the Southeastern U.S.
How do you define the community you serve, and who are its stakeholders?
As we endeavor to become the first BIPOC female-led Benefit Corporation in the State of Alabama in 2023, S.C.H.O.O.L.S. believes that access to high-quality, cost-effective ACT test preparation is as fundamental a right to quality education as access to clean water is to maintaining good health, as both are transformative aims listed on the call to action of the World Health Organization’s Sustainable Developmental Goals. In keeping with the WHO’s call to action to end poverty and inequality - ensuring health, justice, and prosperity for all while protecting the planet- S.C.H.O.O.L.S’ unique focus on goal-based learning using innovative ed tech ensures that all students obtain CCR credentialing and skills leading to employment and economic advancement, especially under-served students. Our BIPOC and LATINX female-led network of educators and mental health providers serve under-served students across political, social, and racial divides using U.S. federally allocated Title I funds for supplemental educational servicing.
How do you build trust within the community your organization serves and among small business owners?
Our partnership is repairing broken access systems, refocusing Alabama State Title I expenditures from ROI to ROE, redefining CCR credentialing pathways, and revolutionizing accessibility to virtual ACT test preparation as a viable means of CCR credentialing in Alabama through innovative ed tech as a matter of social justice. The S.C.H.O.O.L.S. and Alabama Possible partnership created a strong position to collaborate with educators, counselors, and career coaches across Alabama to develop and implement tailored postsecondary readiness and access processes and strategies that yield increased high school completion and postsecondary enrollment rates for all students, especially under-resourced students, students of color and first-generation college-going students. Our objectives are to equip students for graduation from high school by providing resources and removing financial barriers to develop their individualized post-secondary pathway. Without intentional individualized support for under-resourced BIPOC, LatinX, and rural students, Alabama high school graduation rates decline, and drop-out rate risks increase.
What are your impact goals for the current year and the next five years and how will you achieve them?
Our objectives are to equip students for graduation from high school by providing resources and removing financial barriers to develop their individualized post-secondary pathway. What makes our work outstanding is our extraordinary +5-10 point composite ACT score increase results, which are 10X our U.S. competitors. Our innovative ed tech methodology has reached over 250,000 students globally through virtual network effects, helping them to avert $250 million in U.S. student loan debt due to low ACT scores. We meet students where they are, from fear of past “high-stakes” ACT testing failures to future data-driven individualized ACT test preparation successes, using skillful intention and downstream focus to advance their CCR credentialling learner agency!
Our one-year impact goal is to service the 35,316 BIPOC, LatinX, and rural ACT “test avoiders” who reside in the under-resourced Alabama communities of Birmingham City, Dallas County, Jefferson County, Mobile County, and Montgomery County. Our five-year impact goal is to service an additional 5,000 8th graders in 13 “poor performer” middle schools across Alabama for a period of 4 years affected by the policy initiated on November 10, 2022, by the Alabama State Board of Education requiring 2028 graduating Seniors to obtain 1 of 10 College and Career Readiness (CCR) credentials to graduate high school, with benchmarking ACT scores as 1 of the 10. From 2023-2028, we will also expand to service 734,012 Alabama students, 470,666 Mississippi students, and 637,434 Louisiana students in need of ACT test preparation for high school graduation, credentialing, and college or career entry.
Why are you applying to Truist Foundation Inspire Awards?
With funding from Truist Foundation and MIT Solve, S.C.H.O.O.L.S., in partnership with Alabama Possible, would be positioned to increase its framework capacity of personnel, engagement, and resources to continue to serve 354 high schools through the Alabama Goes to College Campaign plus the additional 5,000 8th graders in 13 “poor performer” middle schools across Alabama for a period of 4 years. Due to the CCR credentialing policy requirement for high school graduation for the Class of 2028, service provision has already begun this Summer of 2023. The total yearly budget allocation is $250,000, covering personnel, engagement, and resources. Our personnel are two (2) State Coordinators at $50,000 + 29.8% fringe/benefits, or $129,800 yearly. Our engagement includes hosting Engagement and Virtual and In-person Parent Nights three times a year in October, January, and March at $11,000 yearly. Our Resources and ACT Preparation Course Subscriptions include Family and Student Postsecondary Planning, Guidebooks, and Webinars, which cost $109,200 yearly. With the assistance of Vern Gwynn, Truist Associate Vice President in the Atlanta Georgia Market, S.C.H.O.O.L.S served as a Truist Financial Wellness Leader to pilot a program in Fulton County Schools, Atlanta Public Schools, South Fulton Schools, and Clayton County Schools in the State of Georgia, impacting more than 2,000 students and student-athletes. Our organizations would be forever indebted for any funding received to increase positive CCR credentialing outcomes occasioning high school graduation for the under-resourced BIPOC, LATINX, and rural students that we serve who attend “failing” or “poor-performing” schools.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
We have never had a formal marketing campaign. Our company has earned the trust of the community and has run 100% by client referral for 39 years since I started the business as a tutoring consulting firm at age 12. Thus, we are in need of public relations assistance to expand our client base. Our company has been blessed to receive national and international ed-tech awards which have added to the value of our brand through social media marketing from the award-giving organizations, such as the 2023 ASU+GSV Elite 200 G Cup Finalist Award and being chosen as a top 40 Semifinalist for the MIT Solve Gender Equity in STEM Challenge.
We know that our product delivers superior results based on our monitoring and evaluation. However, we need assistance in scaling our product and service distribution to meet the demand that currently exceeds our supply. Finally, we are also in need of financial assistance to enhance our AWS partnership, protect our proprietary software legally, and customize our web design. We are signing state-level contracts now that will require adequate web hosting for millions of users which is beyond the capacity of our free Google Classroom for Teachers accounts.