I can hardly believe it, but Celebrate EDU turned 4 this month! To commemorate this occasion, I decided to take a walk down memory lane to remember how it all started and how far we’ve come. Here are a few of our most important moments:
I walked into SEED SPOT Phoenix on September 14, 2013 (to be exact) with an idea for an organization and a lot of nervous energy. I had never taken a business class before and was terrified of the idea of pitching my business idea to a community audience each and every week. Throughout my 12-weeks in the program, I grew leaps and bounds as an entrepreneur and left with a solid business idea, incredible mentors, and a $25,000 seed grant from the Pakis Family Foundation. The rest, as they say, is history.
This was truly one of the hardest parts of starting Celebrate EDU. In order to make sure our programs would really work we decided to test them before turning them into online lessons. To do this, I hit the road traveling to Colorado and California to test our original versions of the lessons. I went to people’s homes to talk to them about entrepreneurship to see if what we were teaching was interesting and if we were teaching these concepts effectively. I learned SO much during the 3-month pilot but I don’t know if I have ever been more exhausted.
First partner organization
We established our first partnership with the Temple Grandin School in Boulder, CO in Spring 2015. This was so exciting because it was the first time another group would be running our program (without me!) In order to do this, we turned our original lessons into videos and interactive worksheets, all hosted online. This was the first real step in creating The Spark Program, a curriculum that is now being run in 7 states through partnerships with schools, programs, and organizations.
In 2016, we created our 1-day Kindling Entrepreneur Workshop and realized what an amazing program it really was. Soon after, we received funding to take this workshop on tour. Through this project, we traveled to Ohio, Minnesota, Nebraska, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado serving over 152 young adults with disabilities in 10 cities. This allowed for us to learn so much about growing our programs, and also how hard it is to go through airport security with 15 computers.
Growing our impact
This year has been focused on growing Celebrate EDU in the most efficient way we can. We have learned a lot about what support our community needs to make entrepreneurship a viable path. We have been working with partners behind the scenes to break down these barriers. (We plan to share the details about this with you very soon!)
Since our founding Celebrate EDU has served:
36 partner organizations
500 family members, teachers, and service providers
Last week, a small group of our board members, volunteers, and supporters gathered to toast where we’ve been and where we’re going. I, for one, can’t wait to share where the roads ahead are leading us. We are so excited to go on this journey with all of you. Thank you for all of the support you have provided us over the last 4 years, here’s to many more!