Tag: Social Innovation Lab

Meet the Entrepreneur

Meet the Entrepreneur: Jenna Shaw Aiding Teachers Through Wellness…

Meet the Entrepreneur: Jenna Shaw Aiding Teachers Through Wellness Programming

At 35 percent, Baltimore’s teacher turnover rate doubles the national average, and Jenna Shaw wasn’t immune to this. A Baltimore educator with nearly a decade of experience, Shaw found it became harder and harder to have the energy she needed to be a really good teacher. Instead of accepting or even perpetuating this reality, the Baltimore resident founded The Whole Teacher.

The Whole Teacher is designed to address teacher wellness, thereby increasing the retention rates of educators in city schools. This includes listening to educators’ unmet needs, providing on-site health and wellness programming, guiding schools to rethink how they can create healthier environments and conducting exit interviews with teachers to better understand why they are leaving.

Jenna Shaw

A member of the Social Innovation Lab’s 2016-2017 cohort, The Whole Teacher launched its pilot program in fall 2016, and is currently building its School Health Platform that connects teacher health data with programming to streamline health solutions within schools.

Below, Shaw answers questions about The Whole Teacher, her goals and the benefits of Baltimore.

In 5 words, what does your company do?
We help keep teachers healthy.

What are your goals, and how will you get there?
The Whole Teacher looks to expand our scope and impact over the next year by offering programming that reaches teachers in Maryland, D.C. and Pennsylvania.

By building school wellness programs that help both predict and prevent teacher burn-out, as well as tend to current teacher health needs, we will move to work with districts across the East Coast to bring in solutions to teacher satisfaction and development that move the needle on changing how the teaching profession feels and treats our educators.

Why have you chosen Baltimore as your startup’s home?
Baltimore is the home of everything I love. I grew up here and my life is here. I couldn’t imagine starting anything meaningful anywhere else.

What opportunities make it a good place for growing a business?
Baltimore is leading the nation in opportunities for edtech and health startups. Baltimore is at a pivotal point both in a social content, but also in education reform.

The issue of teacher retention is huge for our city and we believe we can have an enormous impact on students, schools and community by building the foundation of our company here in Baltimore.

In terms of startups and innovation, what’s one thing that separates Baltimore from other tech hotbeds?
Baltimore offers a diversity and social energy that I believe sets it apart from other startup centers around the country.

If you could give your past self one piece of advice for creating a startup, what would it be?
Start sooner. I wish I would have started a company 10 years ago while I was in college.

What book are you currently reading?
Radical Candor by Kim Scott

What innovator do you look up to? Why?
I am a huge fan of the arts. I think that Banksy is one of the most innovative artists of our time. The way he is able to spread social messages and comment on society is worth paying attention to and fascinating.

It’s after a long day of work, and you don’t feel like cooking. What is your go-to Baltimore restaurant?
Bar Clavel

What’s your favorite non-work-related thing to do in Baltimore?
I love art. I spend a lot of time watching, listening and participating in art in all forms. Our theaters are amazing and I often walk over the Baltimore Museum of Art from my house to unwind.

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Social Ventures

SIL Bootcamp Inspires Budding Social Entrepreneurs to Move Forward

SIL Bootcamp Inspires Budding Social Entrepreneurs to Move Forward

James Shamul’s idea for bringing positive change to Baltimore grew out of shaggy hair and a lack of options for a quick, reasonably priced clip. A member of The Johns Hopkins University’s class of 2017, Shamul noticed many of his peers had similar feelings about the inconvenient walk, bus ride or Uber to an off-campus barber that charged $20 or more for a haircut.

University student enterprise regulations made an on-campus barber shop a near impossibility, Shamul learned, but a vehicle outfitted with chairs, scissors, clippers and licensed talent could provide a convenient solution. Furthermore, it could have a nonprofit component where it provides Baltimore’s homeless with haircuts and access to other support, such as employment opportunities.

With the idea set, a name (BarberFleet) and partners (Jamie Chen, a freshman at The Johns Hopkins University, and Louis DeRidder, a Johns Hopkins visiting student), Shamul was off to a great start, but he had little idea about next steps.

On April 29, he, along with about 20 others interested in developing a social venture, attended the Social Innovation Lab’s (SIL) Bootcamp. The event condensed SIL’s six-month curriculum into a single day to show participants how to lead change as a social entrepreneur, develop an idea into an actionable plan and identify and secure funding.

SIL’s Bootcamp helped social entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life.

Shamul says some of the best lessons covered “small details that could end up making a big difference,” such as identifying funding sources and learning how to ask questions, address challenges and forecast future problems. However, the camaraderie between the like-minded attendees also proved beneficial.

“Being around others who are undergoing the same challenges or who have similar questions as I do made me feel better about where I was,” Shamul says. “It also made me a lot more passionate about what we’re doing.”

SIL Director Darius Graham designed this year’s Bootcamp, about a quarter the size of the first, to provide more one-on-one feedback and to help attendees cultivate relationships.

“We created this Bootcamp to help very early-stage changemakers gain skills and to think strategically about launching their social venture,” Graham says. “Our first Bootcamp in October 2016 served about 100 Baltimore area residents, but we intentionally made this one smaller so attendees could connect more with each other and develop relationships to help carry their work forward.”

Sabrina Dépestre, an educator and writer with Technical.ly Baltimore, attended the Bootcamp to move forward an idea she says she hasn’t fully fleshed out. She envisions building a venture that connects the area’s movers, shakers and policy makers in the health and wellness space.

“I want to bring together all the faces of health and wellness in Baltimore to see what they’re working on and to create this blueprint of collaboration other cities can use to strengthen their cities,” Dépestre says.

With such an ambitious idea, Dépestre was unsure of where to start, especially considering the early stage of her venture. After only a few hours at the Bootcamp, though, that uncertainty disappeared. Dépestre says she has a better idea for how she and her business partner, Karlene Graham, a Johns Hopkins University alumnus, can move forward.

“What the Bootcamp provided me was the momentum to keep going. I realized I wasn’t alone in this very infant state of my idea,” Dépestre says. “Darius was able to provide very specific action plans and action items that I could take home and run with.”

With a clearer path to create a successful social venture, both Shamul and Dépestre are eager to put their ideas into motion but understand they may need help along the way. Over the next few months, each intends to take action based on information from the Bootcamp and will seek further support by applying to SIL’s 2017-2018 cohort in August.

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