We had the good fortune of connecting with Kendra Crew and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kendra, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
MAKING A DIFFERENCE! Growing up in South Bend, IN, I witnessed firsthand the plague of violence in our community. Wanting to change the trajectory of my life, I immediately knew EDUCATION would be my “ticket” to living a quality life. Thus, my mother and educators challenged me academically, and provided me exposure to places outside my community. I’m a firm believer that the love, support and accountability given to me should be given to minority students daily. Furthermore, considering the dire state minority students are in, regarding access to equal and quality education – it was critical that I create School 1st.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
“You learn something valuable from all of the significant events and people, but you never touch your true potential until you challenge yourself to go beyond imposed limitations.” ― Roy T. Bennett
Initiated in 2014, School 1st, Inc. is a 501(c)(3), Non-Profit organization, designed to focus on education in urban communities. With the variety of unwarranted activities faced by inner-city youth, this organization understands and recognizes the importance of encouraging the upcoming generation, providing them with hope, and instilling value in their everyday lives. Thus, School 1st, Inc. increases academic success, combats illiteracy, and increases high school graduation rates. Through School 1st, Inc. initiatives, students have interacted and held dialogue with Radio & TV Personalities, Actors/Actresses, Record Label Executives, and Entrepreneurs. The Meet & Greet initiative reinforced the importance of education, while simultaneously increasing excitement, and communicating the key message that, “School is Cool,” and stressing the importance of, “Keeping School 1st!” Additionally, School 1st, Inc. created and orchestrated Back to School drives. During the Back to School Extravaganza, hundreds of children were distributed book bags filled with supplies and provided free food, refreshments, and hairstyles. With the partnership of the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, parents were able to receive assistance with GED Preparation and Assistance, Job Readiness and Interview Skills Training, Computer Skills Development, and Job Leads and Connections. Furthermore, after noting the direct correlation with confidence and academic success, School 1st, Inc. created the You Matter: Student Makeover event. With the partnership of local hairstylists, makeup artists, and photographers, students were given a free makeover, clothes, and a photo-shoot, to boost their confidence. During the rendered services, students and mentors discussed how to overcome their circumstances, and reach their goals by staying committed to their education. We are currently facilitating a Holiday Book Drive, where we’ve purchased more than 60 books for students through out the United States. Throughout the years, I’ve endured multiple challenges while building School 1st. Although I encountered these challenges, they only pushed me to work harder! I understand that regardless of my challenges, the work I am doing for my community is critical!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There is literally NO PLACE IN THE WORLD like Atlanta! With the overabundance of BLACK EXCELLENCE in Atlanta, at any given moment you could network with doctors, lawyers, politicians and entertainers – so have those business cards readily available! Prior to COVID-19, I loved going to brunch with my friends at BQE and Red Pepper in Buckhead. Additionally, whenever family visited we would go to the Georgia Aquarium and Edgewood – the home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
In the 3rd grade, my administrators deemed me as a “problematic child”. Fortunately, my teacher, Mrs. Reed immediately told them, “NO”! She further explained that I was far from problematic, that instead I was bored with the content and needed to be challenged academically. Mrs. Reed proceeded to recommend me for the D.E.P.T.H. Program, an accelerated academic program created for gifted students – I was writing 15-paged papers by the 4th grade! All in all, we need more parents and educators advocating for students like myself – this is how we combat the school-to-prison pipeline. Without my mother and Mrs. Reed, I would have never graduated 9th in my high school class, graduated with a 3.8 GPA at Indiana State University, or attended Northwestern University for a M.S. in Communication.