I am a former corporate training professional for major insurance companies. At about age 55, I got what they call the ‘corporate boot’ and I asked myself, “Now what?”
I enrolled in the Encore!Hartford Nonprofit Leadership Program. Through its valuable network, I met someone who hired me as adjunct faculty at a community college where I taught business skills part-time to students from high-need homes.
Then I thought, “If I can’t find a full-time job, maybe I should make my own.”
Today, I am the Founder and CEO of a social enterprise known as URISE, LLC based in Hartford, Connecticut that uses gaming technology to engage and educate students about business, tech and entrepreneurship. Our target group is entrepreneurially-motivated high school students who want to start their own businesses, but have no clue what is required.
Learn about Encore!Hartford, the nonprofit leadership and fellowship program that helped Alice Turner transition to her encore.
I began by studying the concept of social entrepreneurship, creating a product and using sales to support a nonprofit goal. Like Tom’s Shoes or Warby Parker. And in October 2015, we were awarded a grant to hire students to develop a prototype of our gaming concept. URISE is creating tabletop games – playing cards and board games as a way of generating revenues to meet our social goal. One group of students at an inner-city high school will develop an app of the card game.
In my encore career, I get to live my lifelong dream of inspiring and educating urban youth. We learn from each other. But more importantly, they are exposed to STEM careers they never dreamed were within their reach, specifically careers in digital media and technology. In 2016, URISE won a $10,000 grant in a state technology competition – Connecticut’s version of “Shark Tank.”
One former student – Tyrone Witherspoon – says if he hadn’t been exposed to the entrepreneurship ideas at URISE, he would have been lost in his first year in college. Although I’m not making money yet, I’m making a difference and there’s value in that.
(In this video, hear Alice talk about the challenges of following her dream.)