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.
Inspiration isn’t always found in between the layers of research entrepreneurs shuffle through while trying to build the master plan of their business or during the sleepless nights filled with brainstorming. Instead, it can be found through the connections made by promoting and networking the business.
A startup, to me, is like your first born.
It is a young, highly ambitious bundle of ideas, packaged into a delicate wrap of blood, sweat and tears, and while no one outside your network can truly understand the magic behind this first born … you can. You can see its potential to be innovative, to create change and ultimately fill the empty space of human need.
And while you’re pouring your time and energy into this ever-evolving idea, it is hard to imagine that anyone could share that same level of dedication and determination to make this intangible something into a viable product or service with an enormous platform of potential. But every so often, the world of networking brings you in contact with someone who not only shares the same vision, but also has the skill sets to help launch your startup into the next phase.
Read Giselle’s most recent chapter, The momentum conundrum, or scroll down to catch up from somewhere earlier in her journey.
Meet Samantha Butera, a longtime resident of Worcester County who shares my passion for closing the achievement gap. Samantha, a Deloitte consultant, has worked with a number of organizations in Massachusetts including Inspire Inc., a volunteer consulting firm for education nonprofits, and Excel Academy Charter Schools in the Boston area.
Samantha, volunteering her time, will help implement the Hub’s business plan and serve as as assistant tutor.
Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce, said, “The secret to successful hiring is this: Look for people who want to change the world.” While his words do not seem far-fetched to me, they are hard to implement. With Butera joining the former one-woman show, The Learning Hub has doubled its chances of becoming extraordinary, and we are heading full-force into the launch of an amazing program.
As we continue to try to expand The Learning Hub’s demographics – including the homeschool community and the world of maker STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] classes – we are undergoing major adjustments. I originally built The Learning Hub to host a series of maker classes and tutoring sessions at 253 Pleasant St.
Our recent decision to begin hosting classes in other locations, such as Worcester Public Library — along with being able to use free office space at Running Start (from being a winner of the chamber’s StartUp Worcester program) — we have decided to eliminate the overhead of our rental space.
Pleasant Street will no longer be the home of The Learning Hub. While we have painted, decorated, designed and redesigned the space to accommodate creative teaching classes and events, we ultimately feel that the overhead expense can be utilized in a better area of the business: marketing.
The Hub will now focus on creating a small network of resources in every community, starting with the neighborhood library. The Hub will collaborate with a number of local organizations within a 5-mile radius of the community library and spread our maker STEM classes to infuse different elements into the class, such as community gardens, parks, art studios, performing art locations, YWCAs and more.
We want to maximize and leverage local resources by offering a benefit fully geared to the improvement of their child’s academic and social interactions.
The Worcester Public Library has faced challenges over the years, and despite its extensive renovation it continues to overcome obstacles on a daily basis.
A library system with a long list of resources, programs and family-events should be held in high regard in any city. It should be a haven of knowledge for youth and the most-used resource of a city. The Learning Hub is looking to contribute to this goal.
In my last chapter, I discussed the library’s interest in collaborating to launch the Hub’s Free Libraries Initiative, and we have received an immense amount of support from the city and community.
John Monfredo, a member of the Worcester School Committee and the mastermind behind “Worcester, The City That Reads,” has agreed to give our Free Libraries Initiative a few hundred books to help us launch. His generous contribution to our campaign will allow us to focus on the raw materials of creating the Free Libraries [think, a birdhouse, but for a few dozen books that your neighbors can share] and obtaining the appropriate permits, if any, to get this program off the ground before mid-August.
To top off our list of ongoing and new projects at The Hub, we are starting to receive interest from libraries outside of the city to host maker STEM classes and implement our learning curriculum in their programs. Our momentum is becoming contagious and in the most positive way imaginable.
So, as we say goodbye to a piece of The Hub at 253 Pleasant St., we welcome our mobilization concept and the future of The Learning Hub with a bittersweet hug.
Follow Giselle’s inspiring story from the beginning: