What if every child in an under-resourced community had a near-peer mentor that taught entrepreneurship & its' habits of personal growth?

Photo of Daquan Oliver
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Outraged by the countless "No" and "You Can't" rhetoric I was provided, I quickly grew distrustful of a system that I witnessed break the hope and confidence of many of my peers. Simultaneously, I witnessed my single-parent mother work tirelessly to suffice for both herself and her son. At the age of 14 I made a promise to become successful despite all obstacles in front of me and assist those in my same position to become successful as well. I did so because in that very moment, I was in the middle of one of my mother and I's greatest struggles. In the midst of emotion I felt, hopelessness, despair and fear, a thought struck me that I should never let this situation or any other situation defeat me. From this spark, I began to understand the ways in which school and other constructs could play a supporting or hindering force in developing confidence, emotional stability and opportunities for attachment. More often than not, my peers and I were provided with reasons not to be confident, to worry and stress, and to grow distant from one another - among many other dilemmas plaguing our own wellbeing. Without realizing, I began to focus on my own personal growth and developing a strong core of friends that would be my support system. When I attended Babson College my freshman year, I realized that I did not need to wait any longer. So I begin to find peers who were similarly passionate and willing to be mentors, as well as a local community to pilot within.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)
  • Hispanic, Latinx, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian)



Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Los Angeles - Santa Monica

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Boston, MA Los Angeles, CA New York City, NY

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Children thrive in stable & nurturing environments where they have a routine & know what to expect. As opposed to students of higher-income, students of low-income backgrounds are exposed to more stress at earlier ages producing emotional instability & a lack of role models & productive support systems. These pressures have been proven to hinder cognitive function, self-confidence, & connection with peers. Moreover, young students in low-income areas receive less support & have fewer opportunities to practice skills essential to wellbeing. Entrepreneurship is a tool that can foster things such as confidence, self-awareness & connection with peers. With entrepreneurship, individuals can use this way of thinking & acting to manage stress productively, build relationships with mentors & support systems, & ultimately adopt a set of habits that foster positive wellbeing for the long-term.

Entrepreneurship and mentoring are two things that can foster things like confidence, self-awareness, and connection with peers. WeThrive is an entrepreneurial program that pairs college students with middle school students that live within under-resourced communities. WeThrive provides students of low-income backgrounds with more support and additional opportunities to practice skills essential to wellbeing. Our after-school program uses community-based intervention to build self-awareness, explore identity, help young people feel like they belong, and provide mentors who are supported as proxy caregivers. 

WeThrive has been active within 7 campus chapters including Cornell University, Columbia University and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). We are confirmed for 20 campus chapters in the fall. Throughout our programming, youth participants have created companies of their own, earned revenues and donated profits to charity while securing relationships with peers and near-peer mentors. Youth participants explore their identities, manage & reduce stress, and become more powerful changemakers. Throughout this process, students have increased their sense of self, belonging and purpose.

More often than not, our demographic is overlooked and not provided with the proper resources to thrive. Business lessons alone are not enough. Children of low-income backgrounds require an entrepreneurship education model that goes beyond simple business skills, and delivers impact at the core, resolving their emotional and spiritual needs. In the WeThrive program, students aged 11-12 years old run companies but most importantly, learn and practice life skills, gain mentorship, and form a support system in their very own neighborhood. With the knowledge of life skills, stronger self-awareness, and a support system of peers and mentors - youth participants will have the tools and structures to cultivate healthy wellbeing and achieve their definitions of success. 

We recruit our mentors largely through social justice departments and minority clubs and organizations on campuses, to ensure the mentors are relatable to their mentees. Our college students are trained to be 1) mentors and 2) entrepreneurial facilitators who can guide students through the sort of wellbeing healing and education embedded within entrepreneurship and our curriculum. 

WeThrive is equipping kids with the tools, environments, and relationships to cope, hope, and thrive. 11 and 12 year olds are at the perfect juncture for our lessons - young enough that they are still forming life assets like habits and self-talk, but old enough to take tangible action. Our entrepreneurial mentoring gives youth participants a sense of dignity and purpose. Similar to Ashoka, WeThrive believes that once this has been secured, kids can work to secure that for others and become powerful agents of change in their very own communities.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • LGBTQ or non-binary individuals
  • Religious minorities (non-Christian)
  • Low-income communities
  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education
  • Mental Health

If you chose "other," please share the sector you work within here:


Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

A boy and girl participant frequently argued at the beginning. According to curriculum, the two were paired up for “Pitch Your Dream Job.” Each partner had to tell a panel of college-mentor judges why the other person should get his or her dream job. Mike gave a heartwarming pitch of why she should have her dream job of becoming a singer. He tells the judges that Jess is talented, hardworking, and resilient. Everyone is shocked. You can see in her face that she’s getting validation. She’s smiling to herself. Jess reciprocated. From this point, her confidence soared and she became less distant. One day, someone had been bullying Jess on the bus again, and Mike was the only one to come to her aid and defend her.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

It's crucial to deliver this form of health & wellness intervention to 11 and 12 year olds who very young but also still old enough to take tangible action and adopt effective, healthy habits, life skills, and structures. WeThrive is active within 7 campus chapters including Cornell University, Columbia University and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). WeThrive has engaged more than 100 participants to date. This year we are raising $350,000, and are all set to launch our platform/app as a tech supplement for programs. We are thus far projected to impacted more than 700 youth participants and 150 college mentors nationwide in the fall semester. Year 5 we will have impacted more than 50,000 children and 10,000 college mentors nationwide with the help of our mobile app and platform, as well as in-school and summer school models.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $100k - $250k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We have previously raised money from individual, high net-worth donors, foundations and grants. Moving forward we shall also engage government funding, and earned revenues through charging for an in-school and summer school program that can provide a more immersive environment to foster positive cultures of health in the communities we are a part of. We shall also conduct face-to-face canvassing requesting donors to donate upwards of $15/month.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and BUILD are also working in the same field. However, we're the only program to work through near-peer mentors & focus on teaching life skills * effective habits that directly correlate with improved wellbeing. Other programs focus on the business skills, whereas we focus on the greater implications on the child's wellbeing. Instead, pursuing habits and life structures. WeThrive isn't about creating a business, it's about habits & structures that address & improve the wellbeing of youth participants. I am the only founder from the problem I solve.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

I believe the shift towards involving college students in this changemaking work is an incredibly important one. Through this, we as a field are involving powerful mentors who are close enough in age to relate to for children, but also far enough that they may ask for advice. We will also leverage organizations like Jumpstart, whose ED is our advisor to better care for our students. To add to this, the training of parents and teachers to implement wellbeing methodologies in the classroom and at home will prove to be an essential support if we are serious about improving youth wellbeing.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Email from Becca AbuRakia-Einhorn of Ashoka.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jennell Riddick

WeThrive sounds like a wonderful program. I particularly appreciate the partnership between the mentoring and offering of life skills. I can see how both assist in improving the self-esteem of the participants. Thanks for your work.

Photo of Daquan Oliver

Thanks Jennell!