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Jaleesa Hall is Founder & CEO of Raising a Village and a 2021 Design Fellowship participant.

What was the most impactful or meaningful part of participating in CityBridge Programming?
The most meaningful part of participating in the Design Fellowship was having the ability to journey alongside other social entrepreneurs to bring about scalable solutions. Every month we were able to share our experiences and learnings in order to help each other succeed.

How has your experience with CityBridge influenced or helped you in your life and career?
My experience with CityBridge has helped me find a community of educators, entrepreneurs, and leaders who I can build relationships with and find support. In addition, through the coaching CityBridge provides, our organization was able to redesign our education program to ensure that we are serving as a direct response to the needs of our partners as well as fulfilling our organizational mission. Lastly, CityBridge has also provided much needed funding to Raising A Village to continue to test and scale our programs.

What are you up to now?
Since my participation in the CityBridge Design Fellowship, Raising A Village Foundation has expanded to 10 locations across DC by implementing our education initiative, Driven 2 Succeed, in various schools and shelters. Also, I have been able to focus more on building organizational infrastructure including the hiring of part-time/full-time staff, fundraising, and planning the launch of other programs that will be housed under the Raising A Village Foundation. Also, due to my recent appearance as a panelist at DC Startup Week with CityBridge, I have been invited to speak at other events and even podcasts!

What piece of professional advice would you give CityBridge alumni and education entrepreneurs?
As an entrepreneur, it is easy to feel like you always have to be on the run and that everything that comes across your desk is an emergency (and it probably is). However, I have learned the importance of taking a pause to reflect and rework my ideas. You can do this through fellowships, coaching, or your own planning. No matter how you do it, by giving yourself the chance to think, not only will you be more intentional about the work you do, but so will your business and its aims.

Fill in the blanks: “Before I participated in CityBridge programming I used to think _______. After participating in CityBridge programming, I now think __________.”
Before I participated in CityBridge programming I used to think I had to do it alone. After participating in CityBridge programming, I now think it is important to create an ecosystem of support.

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