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.
I heard somewhere that “momentum demands movement.” The phrase should be used as a staple in the career of every entrepreneur.
The notion of moving forward after failure is frightening for many – deadly, almost – but when an entrepreneur is aware of their product or service and the quality of value it can create for consumers, failure is but a stepping stone on the path to greatness.
Six months, one week and four days ago, I started The Learning Hub. While the odds were stacked against me because of what turned out to be an oversaturated market and a higher need for free student programs than paid programs, I remained focused.
With a tunnel vision of the end goal – assisting low-income students to gain the academic competitive advantage needed to succeed – I continued to push.
While many other articles in my journey have been predominantly regarding the levels of frustrations and obstacles associated with building a business, this is not one of those. I wasn’t kidding about the momentum thing!
Read Giselle’s most recent chapter, Part 19 — The social club, or scroll down to catch up from the beginning
The more integrated I become with the community of Worcester, the more potential I see in affiliations, campaigns and marketing ideas for The Hub. While starting a business in Worcester has, at times, seemed impossible due to endless red tape, expensive permits and other challenges, it is looking more and more to me like a great place to start a business.
In only a few years, Worcester has become the nesting place for innovation, startups and entrepreneurs. The Learning Hub is part of this new movement of promoting local talent and recruiting (and incubating) businesses from within.
We are starting to think big. We want to boost the local economy, build a socially impactful program and still spend our Saturdays hosting paint and science labs, and have finally been able to connect with some amazing programs and institutions in the city to accomplish that goal.
Reaching out to the local colleges — maybe you remember — was my first instinct to obtain affordable tutors and bridge the gap between higher education and early learning. I am glad I continued to push through the long list of “no’s.”
As of this summer, The Learning Hub is a new affiliate program of the Service-learning and Civic Engagement program at MCPHS University.
We will open our doors to the learning community and graduate students of MCPHS to continue the cycle of creativity, community interaction and teaching skill sets to the students of The Hub.
After several months of The Hub attempting to gain the interest of the local higher-education institutions, MCPHS took the time to fully understand our organizational model and is making a big impact on our vision.
With The Hub focusing on daily tutoring, MCPHS students will be able to give two hours per week to our students over a course of an entire college semester.
In addition to tutors from MCPHS, The Learning Hub is in the process of starting a Free Libraries campaign along Pleasant Street to boost literacy in time for summer reading.
In a collaboration with The Worcester Public Library, The Hub will assess the Pleasant Street neighborhood, build free libraries and maintain a close connection to outdoor reading and maker events for the children over the summer. Our campaign will hope to boost literacy and increase the accessibility of books throughout Worcester in low-income communities.
This initiative will create a demand for a volunteers to build the free library kiosks and stock them with literary classics and newly penned children’s books. After a few meetings this week, we plan to be able to fully announce our Free Libraries campaign. Working alongside the Worcester Public Library and the city, with the help of Peter Dunn, Business Programs manager for the city’s Executive Office of Economic Development , we hope to implement the Free Libraries campaign before the end of June and host an event to explain our campaign and teach about the importance of literacy.
With the school year ending in a few weeks, we have packed our calendar with student activities for the next few months. Aiming to keep the students engaged over the summer has become a challenge for the Worcester Public Schools, as many schools do not offer summer programs — and those offering such programs have a duration of less than one month.
Our initial paint lab in May – a class we created to discuss the arts and reflect that learning onto the canvas — was a success, with a total of 10 students attending, a maximum for our current space. Our paint lab focused on Picasso and his Cubism period. While the kids learned great facts about Picasso, they also re-created a portrait using Cubism as a guide.
Our journey through entrepreneurship has been difficult over the last six months; we have put a lot of hard work, money and effort into building our space and brand. But with all of the movement we have created, we are now able to say we are building momentum.
Follow Giselle’s inspiring story from the beginning: