For five weeks now, six ASU startups have been going through an intense entrepreneurial training. In joining the 8-week summer accelerator program, Arizona Prosperity Initiative 2X, API2X for short, at Skysong, they are taking a deep dive into their business and financial modeling, applying their learning as they go, and walking step-by-step their critical path. It will be a fierce Pitch Day on July 5!

Throughout the summer, we will feature one of the ventures we are proud to collaborate with. This week, let’s meet Lloyd Hopkins, founder of Million Dollar Teacher Project, a not-for-profit organization.

Million Dollar Teacher Project is making a difference in every classroom.  Their community based solutions create a positive environment within the school to inspire, motivate and attract amazing teachers committed to helping every student reach their potential.

Lloyd, what is your background?

I have been in the Phoenix area for over 20 years by way of Dallas/Fort Worth Texas.  I attended Maryvale High School on the West Side of Phoenix and graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management May 2016.

 

Why did you start a non-profit organization?

I have been working in the nonprofit sector for 17 years.  The majority of my work has revolved around education in different capacities.  I have spent time in the classroom as a teacher’s assistant, I have worked with organizations trying to reduce the dropout rate and combat the crisis of disconnected youth in the valley.  My desire to branch out on my own and create a nonprofit organization stemmed from my frustration with the education system as first a participant and then a parent and then a partner.  We have become far too comfortable with what I call the “beacon on the hill” environment that exists today where you will have a high performing school, surrounded by a bunch of under-performing schools, and parents having to face the dilemma of sending their child to the school in their neighborhood or drive (in some cases across town) to the better school.  We all want our children to have the best education possible, but most do not have the resources or ability to make such a commitment.  I am disheartened by the inequities in our education system and believe our goal should be to create systems where ALL schools can be amazing. I believe it is possible.

I combined my passion for quality education for all with my appreciation of the teaching profession and created Million Dollar Teacher Project because I believe the most cost-effective way to improve schools is to pour more resources and funding in to the teaching profession itself to make the job more competitive with other prestigious careers.

 

What’s the best part about your new role as an entrepreneur?

The best part about being an entrepreneur is the freedom it creates.  I am a creative person, so I love the process of developing ideas and as an entrepreneur you don’t have to wait for permission to execute on them.  I enjoy that beyond explanation.  It’s an added perk that I am a social entrepreneur and the ideas I develop can impact society in great ways.

 

What’s the most challenging part?

The most challenging part of being an entrepreneur for me, is business planning.    I can generate ideas all day but developing the business plan to execute on them is a struggle.  Additionally, being founder of an organization seeking to impact a cause you are so passionate sometimes you can be too close to the work to think of all the possibilities.  That is my primary reason for joining the API2X Class.  I view myself as a life-long learner and wanted to be in an environment where I could learn from smart business people who are skilled with business development to help me take Million Dollar Teacher Project to the next level.

So far, I have already learned a lot.  The class has helped me dig deeper in to my ‘Why’ and understand how to message to a wider audience.  This has truly been a great experience.

 

How can the community support you?

As a nonprofit organization support in the form of donations, cash or in-kind, is always greatly appreciated, but we are also looking to get more people involved in the conversation of improving teacher recognition, support and compensation.  One of the easiest ways for the community to participate in that dialogue is to upload a picture or video thanking your favorite teacher for impacting your life on our Facebook community page  or your favorite social media platforms. Tell us how this teacher made a difference in your life and post it using the hashtags #apples4teachers #teacherthankyounotes and tagging @mdtproject.



API2X is powered by Altima Business Solutions, business accelerators who cultivate and ‘rise’ entrepreneurs who are creating today’s job given access to capital, expertise, skills and talent. The API2X  track is reserved for cities, universities and business associations. As featured in the Phoenix Business Journal, for individual startup or a small business, applications are now live for API10X accelerator program.

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