A Mother’s Journey [Part 41]: The place to start?

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one. During her journey to establish and grow her nonprofit tutoring collaborative she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

There is something magical in the air and many people in the know are starting to feel it.

With its strong local collaborations and emerging businesses, Worcester is beginning to be recognized outside the city limits as much as inside them as a new leader in the startup world — and rightfully so.

Per recent data released by TechNet and the Progressive Policy Institute and reported by Axios.com, Worcester is lumped in with larger cities — from Philadelphia; to Nashville, Tennessee; to Portland, Oregon — as being among the nation’s emerging startup hubs.

While statistics are starting to add up to recognition that Worcester is a hub of innovative entrepreneurs, we have known this for quite some time.

Known as a center of manufacturing as far back as 150 years ago, Worcester has always served as an incubator for industries, so it is no surprise to me that we are collectively regaining our title.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The stress test, or scroll down to explore more of her story

A Mother’s Journey [Part 35]: The resolution revolution

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Soon after the confetti hits the floor, most New Year’s resolutions fail. The longing for more productive days, skinnier jeans and better health typically dissipates by the time January turns to February, therefore I have resolved to stop making New Year’s resolutions.

I mean, do I want to be more productive and fit into skinnier jeans, all while trying to rule the world? Of course — but I know conjuring a resolution isn’t going to make that happen.

Most people seem like they want to take on the new year as if it were a completely clean slate. They view it as an opportunity to finally take on life’s biggest challenges — as if the changing calendar will change your attitude. To me, the new year doesn’t represent a clean slate at all; it’s just a simple continuation of the last. It is an illusion of time, this great dividing line, leading many to believe “this is the year” they will be able to accomplish anything.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter, The gift of reflection, or scroll down to explore more of her story

Sun Serial: A Mother’s Journey | Part 23 — The stemming of the tide

Editor’s note: Since September, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January. Her journey, though, is far from over.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

The Learning Hub has encountered many obstacles and triumphs over the last six months. And while the business continues to evolve in different directions, our initial goals of reaching students with a curriculum of interactive maker classes and affordable tutoring is still underway.

Our business model has changed and it has whittled the very meaning behind the name itself – bringing together resources as a malleable hub for learning in different communities (rather than in one hard-to-afford location).

We are ready to begin our maker class schedule at the Worcester Public Library, with a launch date of Aug. 1, But while we organize and implement our program here in Worcester, we will also look to other inner cities facing the same educational challenges to spark our program within those communities.

Dan Ekberg, a SCORE business mentor assigned to me through the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce’s StartUp Worcester program, has been a great resource for The Learning Hub as it approaches its new future.

The dual goals of reaching a vast market of students and keeping our maker classes free for participating students entail a bit more capital to run than I personally can fund. Ekberg has advised us on the usage of grant funds to propel our mission forward, and although I am a writer, I am most definitely not a grant writer.

SCORE can connect me to a great network of talented and well-versed business mentors who can lead the way in the world of grants.


Read Giselle’s most recent chapter, The Pleasant Street exit, or scroll down to start from earlier in her journey.

Worcester Sun, July 17-23: In this issue

Ken Powers returns with a poignant and heart-wrenching memorial for Clark and St. John’s alum Pat Oroszko, who would have — should have — turned 35 last week. A look at Dianna’s Neighborhood Bistro, new on the corner of Chandler and June streets. A Be Like Brit volunteer chronicles her first journey and looks ahead to her second. Thoughts on rude city officials, more cooks in the downtown kitchen, Sinacola on Weisel, and much more in your July 17-23 Worcester Sun.

Sun Serial: A Mother’s Journey | Part 21 — The momentum conundrum

Editor’s note: Since September, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January. Her journey, though, is far from over.

“Just keep going.”

I mutter these words to myself every second of the day. I understand with the buildup of momentum comes pressure that can either make or break The Learning Hub.

The Learning Hub is ready to grow, but how will it reach its lofty goals?

Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

The Learning Hub is ready to grow, but how will it reach its lofty goals?

We are heading on the right path, with a few drawbacks – like funding – weighing heavily on the quality of services we can provide.

Although the Worcester Public Library is supporting the Free Libraries Campaign (which I told you about last time), our initiative is a work in progress as we tangle with the Department of Public Works & Parks over necessary permits and look to the community for continued support.

(The DPW is sure I need a permit, it’s just not sure what kind of permit I need. The free library movement — modest streetside kiosks filled with free books to exchange — would be new to Worcester.)

With WPL’s Summer Reading Kick-off this week, we feel especially inclined to continue pushing our Free Libraries Campaign. Thinking about the many children and adults lacking proper reading materials in their lives fires my motivation to keep going.

giselle_newWith the city of Worcester’s creative movement happening, we are positive about the future of the city and The Learning Hub. While our Free Libraries Campaign may be the first of its kind in the city, it will surely not be the last socially impactful project we spearhead.

Starting a special relationship with Worcester Public Library has been exceptional.


Read Giselle’s previous installment, The way forward, or scroll down to catch up from the beginning.


Sun Shine: Arrays of light — Clark student’s solar project to aid ‘our heroes’

While helping the environment by providing renewable energy through the sun, an enterprising Clark student’s project also seeks to benefit individuals, such as police officers, military veterans, teachers and firefighters, whose everyday work helps others. Indeed the 19-year-old has already learned a valuable lesson: “If you really want to accomplish something, you have to find the time.” We suggest you find the time to check out this profile from Bronislaus B. Kush.

Sun Serial: A Mother’s Journey | Part 19 — The social club

Editor’s note: Since September, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a Pleasant Street tutoring center that opened in late January. Her journey, though, is far from over.

Social entrepreneurship has become an attractive label for new businesses producing a socially positive outcome with a hint of innovation and entrepreneurial charm. Making a difference for society has become something many businesses, whether nonprofit or for-profit, have emphasized more and more.

The Learning Hub is transforming into a socially driven nonprofit with new ideas about business strategies and the perception of relying on government funds and community donations.

giselle_newSeeing the problem firsthand — the lack of resources provided at a public school level including one-on-one time with students, additional learning supplements and the integration of science, math and history classes — The Hub has set out to improve the entire educational ecosystem with inventive, supplemental approaches.

And to be honest, since opening in January and despite being tapped by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce as a StartUp Worcester 2016 winner, attracting a steady stream of students — and revenue — to the Hub has proved difficult. Finding new forms of funding is essential.


Read Giselle’s most recent chapter, The new direction, or scroll down to start from the beginning.


Sun Shine: Arrays of light — Clark student’s solar project to aid ‘our heroes’

Folks who have visions for special projects to benefit society often spend years, decades, and even lifetimes in order to turn their ideas into useful, practical and workable accomplishments.

Not Krissy Truesdale.

Krissy Truesdale, Clark's latest aspiring social entrepreneur

Mark A. Henderson / Worcester Sun

Krissy Truesdale, Clark’s latest aspiring social entrepreneur

It took the Clark University student only three years to transform her innovative plan to benefit the environment, while financially helping deserving everyday “heroes,” into a reality.

But the short turnaround time isn’t the only thing that makes Truesdale’s project remarkable.

You see, Truesdale started bouncing around the idea for “Solar for Our Superheroes,” a project aimed at providing solar power to the homes of people who benefit their communities through their efforts in the workplace, when she was a sophomore in high school.

Work to install solar panels on the project’s first home may start as early as this August.

Sun Serial: A Mother’s Journey | Part 18 — The new direction

Editor’s note: Since September, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a Pleasant Street tutoring center that opened in late January. Her journey, though, is far from over.

“Bootstrapping? Like supporting the business on your own?”

The Learning Hub is ready to grow, but how will it reach its lofty goals?

Giselle Rivera-Flores / For Worcester Sun

The Learning Hub is ready to grow, but how will it reach its lofty goals?

That is the reaction and those are the type of questions I normally receive when explaining the business model for The Learning Hub. People stare and tilt their heads to each side, as if deciding my level of sanity.

And always the same response: “Doesn’t it take a gazillion dollars to manage a business?”

“Yes!” I want to blurt out! “It takes a gazillion dollars and I thought I had the money stashed under my bed.

“But as it turns out – well, it’s empty under there.”

Sun Serial: A Mother’s Journey | Part 17 — The road to empowerment

Editor’s note: Since September, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a Pleasant Street tutoring center that opened in late January. Her journey, though, is far from over.

“Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed,” said the unusually successful Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987). “If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes’; they will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’ ”

If those words of wisdom from Luce — the first woman to hold a major U.S. ambassadorial post, also an accomplished journalist, playwright and elected official — don’t ignite a deep desire to take on the world and conquer all of its obstacles, then maybe entrepreneurship isn’t for you.


FIRST in the Sun: Canal District power play: Rucker partners in rink deal [April 13]


giselle_newFor weeks, I have indulged in several case studies about small businesses and what makes them tick – learning the ins and outs of some who possess the highest level of entrepreneurial spirit – and through the tangled webs of oversaturated messages and “go-get-it” attitudes, discovered a simple concept: Women Empowerment.

I capitalize the term because, to me, it amplifies the struggles endured by women-owned businesses and the role of taking on the weight of the world for a simple recognition of capabilities.

Read Giselle’s most recent chapter, The long way home, or scroll down to start from the beginning