What inspired you to launch your business?
I grew up in rural North Carolina, and both of my parents were small business owners. Their employees were mostly lower income individuals who didn’t have college degrees, and many were people of color. Despite my growing up with these individuals and their kids, it was clear how different our paths were, just because we came from families with different resources.
The company that I started is about improving career paths for people. We falsely label people — quickly and early on in their lives — so that opportunities aren't as accessible for all. I’ve always been curious about unlocking human potential so that individuals can realize their potential and have self-determination.
You create “pathways” to career advancement by helping adults gain critical digital skills via certificate programs through universities and in partnership with corporations. Pathstream has helped an overwhelming majority of students reach their career goal within one year of completing the program. How is that possible?
We remove known barriers. Classes are online. You don't have to log in at a specific time. You can have any kind of work, family situation or parenting responsibilities, and do this on your own schedule. Also, students are in a cohort and have an instructor, so you're never going at it alone. You have accountability and support.
Our whole organization is student-centric and focused on taking an asset-based, versus a deficit-based, approach in our pedagogy. What I mean by that is we recognize that individuals have lots of skills and abilities. Most students are over the age of 25 (and 21 percent are older than 40). They have life and work experience that they bring to the table. Our role is to help them realize how to take those skills and use them in a context that's aligned with where they want to go in life.