How The NSHSS Be More Fund Kickstarted My Business

Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Taylor Heery Bkudlikjqz8 Unsplash

If you're like me, running a business isn't something you woke up one day aspiring to do. It was an idea you thought about and developed painstakingly over time from a problem you experienced. And thanks to NSHSS, that idea soon became a full-fledged nonprofit organization serving families nationally. Today, I’ll share some updates on how we’ve grown.


The Beginning

In 2017-2018, I saw that my younger brother's homeschool curriculum was not working for his learning style. It wasn't customizable, and it was expensive. In collaboration with my parents, I decided to do something about this. By 2018, I had developed a gamified digital civics and economics course and then more math and geography courses. After that, others began to ask me to build courses for them. With no experience building online courses, I did all the research I could to improve the content continuously. It was going well, but I didn’t see it as a full-fledged business. Then, I found out about the $10,000 Be-More-A-Thon competition and decided to apply. I created a complete business plan, developed goals for the next three years, learned how to pitch, got paired with a mentor, and turned my side project into a full-fledged nonprofit startup. Then, I ended up being one of nearly a dozen winners. This changed everything. 


Growth and Impact

Thanks to the Be-More grant, I was able to turn my idea into a fully-functional nonprofit organization, receiving 501(c)3 status in the spring of 2021. Canary Academy Online Inc. was officially born. The grant covered all startup costs and helped us purchase the technology, infrastructure, and materials needed to prepare for growth. This, plus the associated press coverage, allowed me to reach the general public much faster than anticipated. By mid-2021, I had been granted more grants to run the pilots of our first programs geared toward families. By the end of 2022, we had raised over $140,000 to fund our programs. We worked with dozens of partners to further our mission, providing hundreds of families with affordable/free opportunities for learning, leadership, and access to educational technology. 


Shout out to Cultural Roots Homeschooling Co-op for letting us use the picture below!

Now and the Future

Initially, my goal was to provide personalized online learning options for families that were affordable and easy to implement. As the years progressed, I saw many families had difficulty paying for and using the technology needed to access online learning. I could not be an advocate for online learning and not look to provide a way in which families in need could easily access it. Thus began our quest to bring equity to the sector, providing families with laptops/tablets, school supplies, and funding to make homeschooling more accessible. We started providing homeschool care kits to families, which included the basic supplies and technology a family would need to homeschool for one school year. EHEP, the Equity in Home Education Program, was born. We added our online courses to this program. The combination worked perfectly to help us launch one of the first free and fully online global co-op communities for homeschooling families. 


It was an honor to speak at Scholar’s Day ATL 2022 about our growth and progress! 

EHEP took off, and we recently received a $100,000 investment to make this our largest and most expansive program! We plan to expand it to reach one thousand families this year, including setting up kit distribution hubs in key cities nationwide. Thanks to NSHSS’s initial support, we have grown to support over 300 families across the country and are on track to serve two thousand more this year. We have offered free online classes and tutoring for families in addition to the kits and services associated with the Equity in Home Education Program. We have seen nothing but growth. Words cannot express my gratitude for NSHSS’s support and continued involvement in Canary Academy Online Inc. I look forward to seeing where Canary Academy Online Inc. grows from here! 


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