My Journey to Impact Entrepreneurship – The Huffington Post “Pioneers for Change” Blog

I began my journey to impact entrepreneurship as a young teacher in New York City. In that role, I saw entrenched challenges such as disparities in test scores, college readiness, and student opportunities, as well as a chasm between test preparation and institutional education. Like anyone with an entrepreneurial mindset would, I began to look for ways to turn those challenges into opportunities for student growth and education innovation and quickly became passionate about the idea of revolutionizing test preparation. For decades, educators have questioned the value of test preparation, seeing it as too focused on “teaching to the test,” generic test-taking strategy for a nonexistent “average student.” As I considered the problem, I began to see an alternative — a method of test preparation that was based on academic skill development and customized for students at a wide range of achievement levels. I founded Academic Approach in 2001 to provide a sound test preparation alternative. Fifteen years later, we’ve seen that our Teaching Beyond the TestTM methodology both helps students achieve the standardized test scores they need to gain admission to the colleges of their choice and positions them to excel academically in high school, college, and beyond. Transforming test preparation into a personalized, academically enriching form of teaching is undoubtedly impactful and will always be at the core of Academic Approach’s mission. In addition, I believe that to truly maximize our impact and address those questions I often ask myself about barriers to education and college access, our company must find ways to reach students in underperforming schools and underserved communities. Academic Approach has developed its school programs services to support these students and their school leaders in raising student achievement, and we have served over 50 urban schools this past year. Academic Approach’s one-on-one tutoring and school programs services make a real difference for students who strive to maximize their academic performance and compete in the college admissions process. The educators and students we serve—and their remarkable growth and attainment — make Academic Approach a true social impact company, allowing us to bring our Teaching Beyond the TestTM methodology to a range of students, including some of those who need it most. While I didn’t necessarily imagine that my career as a teacher would lead me to a career as a social entrepreneur, now that I’ve gone down this road, I can’t imagine taking any other. Is impact entrepreneurship right for you? As social impact entrepreneurs, we go beyond the entrepreneurial question “what market needs can our company address?” to ask “what social problems can we solve?” The search for answers to questions like “How can we help all students acquire the academic skills necessary to succeed in college or career?” is what keeps me inspired as an educator and innovator at Academic Approach. If you’re looking to make a difference through entrepreneurship, find the questions that hold similar inspiration for you, and then consider how you could start a company aimed at answering those questions. How [...]