Sidekick Stories: Park Street adapts to continue to meet the needs of underserved youth
How Park Street achieved 80% of its annual revenue goal within 3 months
Founded in 2020, Park Street Education is a non-profit educational organization committed to removing barriers to education for underserved youth by providing accessible after-school programming. Park Street’s mission is to foster a love of learning for students and ensure success in and out of the classroom to put them on a path of empathy, curiosity, and eventually graduation.
Founded in 2020 to address the immediate education needs of students and parents early in the pandemic, Park Street first launched as a virtual day school and after-school program. The not-for-profit's vision was to create new and more equitable paths to learning through a hybrid model, indexed tuition, and full scholarship opportunities. Through Park Street’s one-to-one enrolment model, it has provided scholarships to 105 underserved youth to date (across two school years).
With the return to in-person learning combined with the increased risk of students falling behind, Park Street needed to transition its programming to stay true to its mission of providing accessible education. According to a poll commissioned by the Fraser Institute, nearly 80 per cent of Ontario parents of children in K-12 schools said their child had fallen behind due to […] the impacts of COVID-19.” To remove the geographic barriers to education, Park Street aimed to continue its hybrid programming while also shifting to focus solely on expanding it’s after-school programs to underserved youth who are at risk of, or already falling behind in school.
“Throughout the pandemic, Park Street positively impacted students and parents,” said Co-Founder,Sam Leach. “But as the world continued to change, our offerings needed to change too. Securing adequate funding to run programs and stay true to our mission was crucial, yet we were far from securing any meaningful funding.”
It was clear from the start that Park Street had a strong hold on their purpose to remove barriers to education. This north star guided and inspired our team at Sidekick from the very start, as we had led the set-up of Park Street’s organizational structure, built its brand strategy, and played a fractional general manager role to lead their administrative efforts.
Alongside the Park Street team, we performed an extensive product/market analysis to understand what was happening within the education space for 2022-2023 school year. We consulted Park Street key stakeholders - parents and students – to receive their inputs while also while taking into consideration Park Street’s strengths. This helped determine what services and programs should be provided to continue to support underserved youth.
Upon revisiting the business plan, it was clear there was a more effective way to scale Park Street’s purpose and desired social impact. While its purpose of providing accessible education to provide life-changing opportunities and close the equity gap in education remained, the market had shifted. Sidekick took a user-first approach to assess the needs of students and parents to align on a product-market fit. Sidekick led the pivot towards scalable after-school programming by developing a new operational plan and model.
“Looking at the impact made to date, speaking with our parents, students and teachers alike to understand their involving needs, while re-visiting our initial plans and analyzing the feasibility in the market really helped position Park Street for success when it came to our offering and funding required,” said Sidekick Co-Founder and Park Street’s Fractional General Manager, Nora Griffiths.
To secure the necessary funding, Sidekick created a compelling case for support along with a hyper-focused funding plan homing in on a few key areas where strong values alignment was found.Sidekick took a human-first approach when working with Park Street’s internal team of Co-Founders and core team members to ensure alignment and excitement moving forward with a new business plan. To execute on the plan, Sidekick equipped the Park Street Team with the necessary fundraising and marketing tools, resources, training, and skill sets to begin securing adequate funding.
Within three months of pivoting service offerings and the funding model, Park Street reached 80% of its annual funding goal through key grants and corporate donations. Park Street’s shifted focus allowed the team to secure a grant of $300,000 over 3-years from TD Bank Group.
“With these new funding opportunities we are able to at minimum triple the impact this year that we had in the last two years. This funding allows Park Street to truly provide life-changing opportunities for underserved youth, fostering their love of learning and ensuring they succeed in and out of the classroom” said Sam Leach.
With this funding, Park Street will support over 100 students per year for the next three years with free after-school enrichment courses and private tutoring offered to youth in its continuous efforts to remove barriers to education.
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(Photo description 1: Image of young girl standing and smiling. White text on red background outlining The Challenge, The Solution, and The Impact of this case study.)
(Photo description 2: Image of four diamonds forming one large diamond, outlining the Purpose, Passion, People, and Profit assessment for Park Street Education.)