2018 Q1 Transparency Report

April 2018

Dear friends and supporters of Celebrate EDU,

If you have been following the Celebrate EDU journey for the past 4+ years, then you know that consistent updates are not our strong suit. This year, it is one of my goals to make sure that you get more in-depth updates from us, a peek at what is going on behind the scenes at Celebrate EDU. Often we share with you when exciting things happen, but I want to make sure that you have the full picture. So I am starting a quarterly transparency report, sharing with you what we’ve been working on and how things are going here, so you have a better idea about the organization you are supporting.

Quick Recap:
As you may know, the end of 2017 was an exciting time for Celebrate EDU. We received funding as an Inclusion Open Grantee from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. We are the first disability-focused organization that they have funded and are honored to be included in the group of amazing organizations working to make entrepreneurship more inclusive. We were also awarded the Chick-fil-A Foundation’s True Inspiration Award in Youth Entrepreneurship, which included a $100,000 grant and an office visit from the cow. Needless to say, it was an exciting 3 months.

The funding we received is to be used to build the capacity of Celebrate EDU so that we can grow the reach of our programs, specifically our Kindling Workshops, to reach more self-advocates across the country. This level of funding changes a lot for us, it feels like a huge next step, and we are so excited for the opportunities and challenges that it brings!

What We Have Been Working On:
With this new support, comes great responsibility. We are very dedicated to making sure that we are utilizing these resources in the most responsible and intentional way possible. So, we invested a lot of our time and energy in the first quarter of this year to work through a 2-year strategic plan that outlines our goals and how we will use this funding. In February, our Board of Directors had for our annual in-person meeting in Estes Park, CO working through our vision for Celebrate EDU. A huge part of our next steps includes growing our capacity as an organization, which includes hiring more staff. We have been operating Celebrate EDU with a small but mighty team for the past 4 years, so this is an exciting new challenge, and we want to make sure we do it right. So we spent a lot of time thinking through who our next hires are, and what their roles will be.

We also finished building a new website for Celebrate EDU, which was launched in March (if you are reading this, then you are currently on our new website—yay you!) With the help of our long-time partners, Revive Design Studios, we have built out a new front-end of our site and also our student portal for all Spark Program students. Our website is an integral part of our organization because most of our curriculum is housed here. We also have more exciting plans for our website in the future (stay tuned for that).

Our team member Melissa has been building and piloting the next level of our curricula, The Ignite Program, with a few students who have completed Spark in the past, we are looking forward to doing a soft-launch of this with select partners and students this summer. Okay, quick side note, when I write out everything we’ve been working on it sounds a little crazy, but that’s #startuplife ya know?

Lastly, we created our Founder’s Video. Instead of doing a traditional birthday fundraiser, like I did for my last 3 birthdays, I opted to create a video that tells the story of how Celebrate EDU was started. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are missing out! We had so much fun making this video with Michael Miller of Sun Prairie Films. We wanted to make something that reflects our real personality and showcases the story that has inspired our work. I asked for people to share the video for my 30th birthday instead of donating. (My amazing friends still donated over $3,000 for my birthday anyway—you guys are the best!) It’s never too late to share it, so if you haven’t yet GO DO IT NOW!

What’s Next?
Moving forward, the two most important things we are working on are hiring more staff and making our Kindling Workshop easily scalable. Now that we have figured out the roles we want to fill, we need the right people to fill them! Stay tuned for listings on our site. Celebrate EDU staff has run our Kindling Workshops since we created them in 2016. Our next step is to make them accessible to programs and organizations around the country. We have already started testing an instructor training to teach people how to run a workshop. Other things we are working on include creating a box full of Kindling supplies and finding like-minded partners to run the programs. If you know of anyone who you think we should be partnering with—send us an email and tell us who they are!

Well, there you go! A not-so-quick update for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I am looking forward to sharing more about how this year unfolds with you all.

With so much gratitude,

Celebrate New Partners

December 2017

This year we were honored to receive funding from 2 new national partners, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Chick-fil-A Foundation. In October, we received word that we were chosen as a grantee of the Inclusion Open initiative. The grantees were selected after demonstrating that they have helped entrepreneurs meet challenges in areas such as developing business models, obtaining funding and building management teams. We are thrilled to be included in the incredible group of organizations working to level the playing field for entrepreneurs.

Additionally, we were surprised by the Chick-fil-A Foundation in November when they showed up with the cow, a team of people, and a giant check representing that we are the winner of the 2018 True Inspiration Award in Youth Entrepreneurship. It was truly a day to remember and we are looking forward to attending the gala in May!

These partners will allow us to grow our programs nationally in 2018. We look forward to growing our impact thanks to the support of these 2 incredible organizations. Stay tuned!


Celebrate The Mighty

November 2017

We’re thrilled to announce a new partnership that will bring our resources in front of The Mighty‘s wide-reaching readership. We will now have our own growing home page on The Mighty and appear in many stories on the site.

The Mighty is a story-based health community focused on improving the lives of people facing disease, disorder, mental illness and disability. More than half of Americans are facing serious health conditions or medical issues. They want more than information. They want to be inspired. The Mighty publishes real stories about real people facing real challenges.

Here’s an example of the kind of stories on The Mighty: 27 Years After the ADA, the Employment Rate for People With Disabilities Is Still Too Low

We are excited to be a partner of The Mighty and look forward to sharing more through their awesome site.


Celebrate Discover Your AWESOME

October 2017

Over the past few months, we have worked closely with the team at MTN Creative to help us more easily explain what we do at Celebrate EDU. We needed to ensure that the message we share is consistent with our programs and our beliefs. So after a lot of time and effort, we are unveiling our new slogan (drumroll please) . . .

Discover Your AWESOME

These 3 words represent what Celebrate EDU programs do: Empower self-advocates to discover their dreams, embrace their interests and strengths, and create opportunities for the future.

The other change you may notice is that we are replacing the term “people with disabilities” with “self-advocates.” A self-advocate is a person who takes control of his or her own life, using supports when needed. We believe that this term is a much better description of our program participants. You can read more about self-advocacy here.

We look forward to sharing more of the AWESOME stuff we have been working on very soon!

Celebrate 4 years (and counting!)

September 2017

I can hardly believe it, but Celebrate EDU turned 4 this month! To commemorate this occasion, I decided to take a walk down memory lane to remember how it all started and how far we’ve come. Here are a few of our most important moments:

The beginning:

I walked into SEED SPOT Phoenix on September 14, 2013 (to be exact) with an idea for an organization and a lot of nervous energy. I had never taken a business class before and was terrified of the idea of pitching my business idea to a community audience each and every week. Throughout my 12-weeks in the program, I grew leaps and bounds as an entrepreneur and left with a solid business idea, incredible mentors (including one still on our board today) and a $25,000 seed grant from the Pakis Family Foundation. The rest, as they say, is history.


Celebrate Justin’s

August 2017

We are excited to announce that we have a new in-kind donor for our Kindling Entrepreneur Workshops! The Boulder-based company, Justin’s, will now sponsor the “afternoon snacks” provided to students who attend our 1-day entrepreneurship workshops. What better way to refuel than with healthy nut butter and snack packs? We are so thrilled to call them a partner and are already enjoying the delicious snacks they have provided. Thank you, Justin’s!

p.s. Did you know that Justin is also a super cool entrepreneur? Be sure to check out his founding story by clicking here.


Celebrate Grant A Gift Autism Foundation

July 2017

When Linda & Lynda, 2 autism warrior moms, get together great things happen. As the host of our first workshop on the Kindling Tour, we instantly connected with the families and staff of Grant A Gift Autism Foundation. Founded by Lynda Tache (mother of Grant), Grant A Gift is a one-of-a-kind facility for autism families in the Las Vegas community.

After the Kindling Workshop, they received feedback from families about the need for more educational training in their Teen Works program. We were thrilled when they invited us back in January to train their staff to teach The Spark Program. They just completed their Spark pilot with 4 students, and are excited to work with another group of aspiring entrepreneurs this Fall.


Celebrate Women Who Startup

June 2017

At the end of last month, our Co-Founder & CEO Jenny Anderson spoke at Women Who Startup’s monthly event #BasecampBoulder. She spoke to a group full of women about the unconventional path that led her to start Celebrate EDU, the lessons she has learned, and shared advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. We are so thrilled to participate in such an incredible event for women. Thank you to Lizelle van Vuren & the entire Women Who Startup community for welcoming us to your stage!


Celebrate RMHS Partnership

May 2017

Celebrate EDU has been awarded a contract through the Rocky Mountain Human Services Mill Levy Program to provide our Entrepreneur Education Information Sessions, Kindling Workshops, and The Spark Program to individuals with I/DD in Denver County. This fantastic opportunity will allow us to impact hundreds of lives over the next 7 months. We are thrilled by this opportunity and can’t wait to share the results of our efforts.


Celebrate Mortal Threads

April 2017

People have supported Celebrate EDU in many different ways since our founding, but our new friends, Mortal Threads, may be the most creative ever! On April 2nd, in honor of World Autism Day, they hosted an Instagram auction in partnership with over 30 other stores. Each of these partners donated products ranging from Harry Potter shoes, to jewelry, to knitted cacti, and 100% of the proceeds from the auction went to support Celebrate EDU programs to benefit entrepreneurs with disabilities. To top it all off, they raised $1,524!

We are so thankful to each and every store that donated products for the auction, and to Mortal Threads for thinking of us, and helping us to empower young adults with disabilities through the power of entrepreneurship! We can’t wait to share the impact of your generosity.