We are excited to share that our Founder & CEO is featured in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair along with 25 other amazing women founders of color who have raised more than $1 million in outside capital for their organizations. Congrats to these these brilliant, groundbreaking entrepreneurs!
Picturing Success: Beyond 12 Founder Reflects on Vanity Fair Photo Spread
Last week, Vanity Fair posted the latest of their powerful “tableau” photo spreads – this one featuring 26 women entrepreneurs of color who have raised more than $1 million in outside capital for their ventures. I am so honored to be included (top row, standing on the far right) among these incredible women. The photo appears in Vanity Fair’s April issue, which hit the newsstands this week, featuring a cover story on actress and writer Lena Waithe, the first black woman to win an Emmy award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.
My first reaction to being selected for this spread was pure, joyous thrill. Showing up in one of the world’s most influential magazines hadn’t even been on my bucket list. For a giddy moment, I basked in the glow of being counted among these brilliant, groundbreaking entrepreneurs.
But another reaction quickly followed, a question: What if we—these women and I—could have seen a picture like this 20 years ago?
Back then, there was no picture, literal or figurative, of what it would look like to achieve our dreams of creating an organization from scratch.
As you may know, I was the first in my family to attend college. But that description only scratches the surface of the new ground I had to break, alongside so many other women of color.
When the day came for me to begin college, my Haitian immigrant family traveled to Hanover, New Hampshire in a caravan 20 cars deep that included not only my parents but also my grandmother, younger sister, cousins, aunts, and uncles. We believed that the hard part was over, not realizing that the journey was just beginning. Unprepared for the academic and social world of an Ivy League school, I nearly dropped out.
There was no picture in front of me to illustrate what success looked like, let alone how to get there. But I figured it out, with the boundless support of my family, my mentor, and a wonderful group of friends, graduating first from Dartmouth and then from graduate school at Stanford. Eventually, I decided to become an entrepreneur, so I could make it easier for first-generation students like me to succeed in college. That’s why I founded Beyond 12: our combination of personalized coaching and technology has allowed us to reach thousands of students annually, building on the invaluable support of their family, friends, and schools.
Since our launch in 2010, we have raised more than $12 million from venture philanthropists, foundations, corporations, and individuals. I am so grateful to our supporters who believed in our vision and who have amplified our efforts in many ways – financial and otherwise.
Our community’s sustained commitment has allowed us to coach approximately 7,000 students from under-resourced communities. What’s more, 88% of the students we’ve coached for four years have persisted through their 4th year of college – twice the national average for similar students.
And this is just the beginning. We aspire to serve over 1 million students annually by strengthening our core infrastructure and programs, hiring key senior staff, and investing deeply in our technology platform and analytics.
When I founded Beyond 12, there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me creating technology startups. I often wonder if I would have started sooner and reached more students earlier if I’d had more role models. I know for certain that I would have been more confident, that the road would have been smoother and less lonely.
I hope the next generation of entrepreneurs looks at this picture and says, “I can be an entrepreneur, because these entrepreneurs look like me.”
And I believe that one day soon, they too will be included in a gorgeous photo spread that will feature far more than just 26 of them.
Founder & CEO, Beyond 12