Educating tomorrow’s leaders with unconventional methods of success
(Philadelphia, PA) We can all agree that a solid education is important for success, but in the words of Ronit Tehrani, Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of So2Speak.Org and the Homework Bar and Lounge, “sometimes school doesn’t inspire kids”. For that very reason, Ronit is part of an educational entrepreneurial team with an exciting idea and mission! Au’loni was able to speak with Ronit and Jonathan Krause – two thirds of the So2Speak.Org team- about what they are doing to provide an academically inspiring atmosphere for middle and high school students in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
According to the website, “So2Speak.Org is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that combines speech with education in order to empower tomorrow’s leaders.” It consists of two primary programs. The first, Strive2Speak, is a program designed to enhance speech fluency for anyone interested in developing and improving public speaking skills. The second is Education2Enrichment, which is the after-school lounge and program for middle and high school students (The Homework Bar and Lounge).
The idea has been in the works since April, 2012, as both Ronit and Jonathan felt something was missing from their high school experiences, which caused their own lack of engagement. They identified a need for a safe, comfortable, age-appropriate place for students to complete homework. They want to give students an inspiring environment, and easy access to resources such as tutors, and enrichment activities, to keep students academically and socially engaged. In fact, tutors will be available the Homework Bar each day, ready to help any student who requests it, in various subjects. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of their team, which also includes Mr. Edward Kraftman, the Homework Bar and Lounge opens November 2014!
We also spoke to Ronit and Jonathan about their entrepreneurial experiences and goals for So2Speak.Org.
The Team and The Vision:
The So2Speak team is comprised of three capable young entrepreneurs. The first is Edward Kraftman, a man with teaching experience at both middle and high school levels. His background gave the trio a sound knowledge base in effective learning tactics for students. The second, is Jonathan Krause, who also has experience in education, but from a financial perspective. His work in a school payroll department prepared him to take on the financial aspects of this venture. The third member of the team, Ronit Tehrani, is very passionate about business. Her marketing experiences began when she was younger, spending summers working in sales at her father’s oriental carpet store. Most recently, she works in marketing for a law office. She holds a degree in marketing and business management, and has her own marketing consulting business. Her business savvy, in addition to her team’s knowledge of finances and education came together to put a unique idea into motion.
Interestingly, some of the passion behind the project is rooted in Jonathan and Ronit’s personal experiences. Both dropped out of high school, and feel that something was lacking from their middle and high school experiences that caused a lack of engagement. For this reason, Jonathan says they wanted to create “a place where kids would actually want to go”. They wanted a lounge atmosphere, where students wouldn’t need a specific tutor. “They could come with their homework, and get what they need – a safe place for kids to go, after school. We wanted a place with food, and activities, where parents can send them, and know that their homework will be done.” This vision, which has been in progress since April 2012, is finally opening this month!
When asked about challenges, Ronit and Jonathan agreed that their age made their progress difficult at times. Jonathan said that the education sector is dominated by older people, which made it more difficult for the trio to establish credibility, because they “looked more like the students than the teachers”. Other difficulties included the logistics of “getting the physical building up and running”, getting IRS approval, and “not being afraid to ask the right people the right questions”, according to Ronit.
Luckily, the group was able to overcome these challenges through their endless drive. Ronit cites their ability to show people that they were passionate, knowledgeable, and determined to do everything in their power to make So2Speak happen. The group continued to be prepared, organized and brave enough to ask questions when they were in need of advice. “We put our egos aside, and were not afraid to ask when we didn’t know something, or had run out of options.”
For others interested in entrepreneurship, Jonathan admits, that readers will definitely experience problems, with so much happening so quickly, “but you have to believe that you are bigger than your problem. You can get through it. As long as you are motivated, you can get through anything.” Ronit’s advice is to, “stay hungry, focused, and driven. Sometimes you have to say ‘no’ to okay ideas, in order to say ‘yes’ to fabulous ones.” She also stresses the importance of not expecting immediate results. “It’s a marathon.”
The team is already looking to the future for So2Speak.Org and The Homework Bar. Within the next twelve to eighteen months, they will focus on making sure the center is running smoothly and providing innovative programming for the students. In the long term, the trio hopes to be able to open more centers in the greater Philadelphia community, primarily in places where students cannot afford the extra resources the center would like to provide.
So2Speak.org is an innovative entrepreneurship venture making strides in adolescent educational engagement. We applaud Jonathan, Ronit and Edward for their dedication, and look forward to hearing about their accomplishments in the future!
Interested in connecting with So2Speak.Org?
You can like the “So2Speak.org” Facebook page,
jon and ronit. area for kids to go thats inspiring. sometimes school does’nt inspire kids. real lounge environment. stepping away from child places that exist. modern mature place for them. education while not in school
AM: Do all the educational and enrichment programs take place in the homework bar as well? (subject coaching, clubs) driving and future strive 2 speak sessions?
S2S: Everything takes place all in one building. There are two floors. The first floor is a lounge area for hanging out, where kids can receive one-on-one tutoring. The second floor is open space, for club sessions.