President and CEO
Daniel Trust Foundation
Daniel Trust pictured here with Natalie Ortiz, Program Manager. Photo by Olivier Kpognon
32% of students in Bridgeport live in poverty.
Low-income students test 166 points below the average on the SAT
B:Hive Member Since 2014
Tell us about your business?
Daniel Trust Foundation currently provides 3 different programs:
High School Mentoring Program
This is really our core program. Selected high school juniors who spend 15 weeks focused on SAT prep and 15 weeks in their senior year focusing on College Readiness, Career Preparation and Financial Literacy.
College Scholarship Program
Getting into college is the first step. Once students graduate from our high school mentoring program, they receive a $2,000 scholarship ($500 per year for 4 years) to help them pay for their college textbooks and other related college expenses. The Daniel Trust Foundation Scholarship, while significant, only covers 42% of the student’s needs. We’re working on doing more to offset this disparity and to allow more students the opportunity to pursue higher education.
Teacher Recognition Program
Teachers can have an incredible impact on a student’s trajectory, on their future. I learned this lesson firsthand. One of the things that makes Daniel Trust Foundation unique is that we ask our scholarship recipients to nominate and honor teachers who have made an big impact in their lives. Teachers who are nominated receive an achievement award and a $250 honorarium to help them supplement out of pocket expenses. Lots of teachers overcome budget shortfalls by decreased educational spending by using their own money. While undeniably noble, this does not seem very fair.
How and why did you start the business?
If we’re being honest, I feel like this business started me. It’s more of a mission—one that came from my own experience as both a Rwandan genocide survivor and eventually a Bridgeport high school student who struggled academically. I could not even speak English, let alone grasp the implications of my academic path, the importance of standardized testing, or the cost of college.
But this isn’t actually about me anymore. It’s about all the kids living in poverty who need to be lifted up, given a chance to start making choices, to stop making excuses.
What is the one thing you would say to a High School student who is reading this?
[Long Pause] I would say believe in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will. If you DO believe in yourself and make choices that are in line with dedication and purpose, then everyone else will believe in you too. Trust me. When you take charge of your own life, regardless of what anyone else tells you, then I truly believe that anything is possible. Actually, I know anything is possible. First hand.
I don’t say this last part lightly, or share my experience as a way of competing with the hardships of others, but with the most humble and appreciative sense for the human struggle: If I was able to overcome the odds stacked against me and find a path that was initially just about surviving, long before it was about academic and professional success, then YOU can too. All of you.
How has coworking at B:Hive helped your business?
My business was really born here. The seed for the idea was planted way back when, but the business took root here in downtown Bridgeport. Coworking has afforded me a wonderful opportunity to share an office with lots of other motivated entrepreneurs. We obviously all benefit from the shared expenses and the use of a space that is great for working, meeting and events, but what we really share is the spirit of this place, what it means to be working alongside others pursuing success, as opposed to all of us working anonymously from home, or quietly from coffee shops.
Everything! We’re going to grow our platforms, working diligently to increase program availability beyond Bridgeport and New York. Eventually, my fantasy is to bring these kinds of opportunities home to Rwanda. That would really be full circle for me.
Learn more about Daniel Trust, his foundation, and programs.
Come see him speak on October 25th: https://www.facebook.com/events/2119973154943435/