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From social work to social entrepreneurship and starting an inner-city boarding school :: The Ryan Banks Academy story, with Valerie Groth

In this episode of Ventures, my guest Valerie Groth (https://www.ryanbanksacademy.org/) and I discuss the Ryan Banks Academy story, her background in social work and in Chicago Public Schools, resiliency when starting a school and nonprofit, and life for students in a pandemic. With social entrepreneurship gaining increased attention globally, we dive into a number of topics in this conversation to help founders think about relevant issues to address with new ventures.

You can watch this episode below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts (search for “Ventures”).

In this episode we cover the following:

2:47 - Val intro, background, and journey into starting Ryan Banks Academy.

6:11 - What is social work? What career paths are available?  

8:22 - What do social workers learn in school? What tracks are common?

12:08 - What is the work that Val was doing day in and day out during her time working with Chicago public schools?

16:40 - What started the kernel of the idea for Ryan Banks Academy?

20:43 - Comment about entrepreneurs who can’t stop thinking about an idea :)

21:18 - What steps did Val start taking initially to make RBA a reality?

23:33 - Comment about Madeleine Albright and what she’s had to go through in her career.

23:51 - How and when Val left her day job to start her new venture.

25:45 - What is Ryan Banks Academy? What stage is the school at in its growth?  

28:09 - Fundraising, rallying a team, and establishing a board for a nonprofit.

32:29 - What has life been like during the pandemic for RBA?

35:38 - What kind of lessons is Val learning about entrepreneurship in general in this season?

37:09 - From Val’s perspective of inner city dynamics, what social problems can (and should) entrepreneurs be thinking about? What would be her call to action to fellow founders?

40:29 - What is Val learning about the conversation around race and racism? How does she think about the conversation?

44:18 - What are the ways in which people can help out with Ryan Banks Academy?

46:43 - What is Val’s vision for RBA in the next 5/10/15 years?  

48:05 - Final words for the entrepreneurs, investors, and other listeners curious about RBA.

Special thanks to our sponsors: https://mybirdbuddy.com, https://www.startuprocket.com, and https://satchel.works