According to Role Model Mentors (RMM) CEO Derek Correia, helping young people find effective tutors and building a profitable company actually go hand-in-hand. “It’s often harder to achieve social missions by starting a nonprofit,” explains Correia. “The idea that we can provide a valuable service, employ local teens, and bring tremendous benefits to families in every community we service while also being a viable commercial enterprise gives us the best chance to achieve scale and maximize the availability of our program to the most people.”
Based in Bedford and Ridgefield, CT, RMM matches up young people with talented high school students for rates as low as $20 per hour. The company was founded in 2015 as a for-profit social enterprise (FOPSE), and was conceived by Connecticut residents Tim Boylan and his wife, Kristin. Correia says that RMM’s clients include kids who are struggling in school or those who have not found success with tutors.
“Some have kids who are really interested in sports, music, or hobbies, and they want to support their talent while also ensuring they stay on track in school, something we are uniquely suited to achieving,” explains Correia. “Others are looking to find a way to boost their kids’ self esteem, help them through awkward social issues, and deal with the transition to middle school.”
Since its origin, RMM has signed up more than 300 clients and fielded roughly 1,000 mentor applications. “We are beginning to expand beyond our original core towns, and now are underway in dozens of school districts throughout Westchester, Fairfield, Nassau, and Suffolk counties,” says Correia. “We are also in a half-dozen towns outside of the tri-state area.”
Correa chalks the company’s success to its intense focus on the needs of its clients. “By combining academic support with extracurricular activities, we support K through 8 students holistically, helping them develop both competence and confidence,” he says. “At the same time, we employ terrific teens in high-value work that helps them develop critical skills such as entrepreneurship, leadership, planning, and accountability.”
Yet despite RMM’s success, Correa doesn’t feel a for-profit structure is necessarily right for all socially motivated companies. “For some companies, being a FOPSE may be a bit of a stretch, and that I suppose can cause problems,” he says. “For us, our fundamental offering is inherently a mission for societal good. Our compass has been pointed in this direction from the beginning.”