Education is one of those common but often ignored areas of policy which only now is receiving much needed innovation, through both policy shifts and technological advances.
One of the exciting new platforms we are seeing in the United States is Torus Teens, a new platform designed to connect teenagers with after-school and summer programs which they are personally interested in. The goal is to aid youth in developing skills for future employment in an engaging manner.
In this "Ideas in Focus" Q&A, we sit down with the founder of Torus Teens, Cecilia Foxworthy to discuss both the product and her experience in developing this idea into a product that can now serve tens of thousands of families and their young adults.
Given the hectic nature of product development and launch, we're very grateful to learn more about Torus Teens and Cecilia in this interview.
What is Torus Teens?
Torus is a platform that connects teens with after school and summer programs so they cultivate interests and have a better chance at life success.
When did this initiative get started?
We started Torus in December 2015. We just launched this month! I am very excited about this.
What was your "this must happen moment" with Torus Teens? What was it that made you see see the need for this platform?
I spent the last two years building a nonprofit organization that addressed economic disparities in lower income communities in NYC and Boston. The organization was proving successful at its small scale, but I wanted to create something with a greater breadth of impact.
With Small Fry, we recruited youth participants from after school partners, most of whom were very difficult to find. We did more exploring and realized that out of the thousands of youth development programs out there working to address a lot of the gaps in formal education, only 4-5 were actually known names. The young people who could benefit from these programs were not aware of them.
The lack of awareness and access was creating absolutely preventable educational disparities. So we created Torus to address this new, more impactful gap.
So right now, how does Torus work? Say I am a parent of two rambunctious pre-teens in Queens NY, how would I get my kids involved and what would the on-boarding of platform look like?
When the platform launched in early April, parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and most of all teens, became able simply go to our website and type in their interests and zip code. Our platform delivers all matching results in their area.
Teens can explore the programs in more detail by going to the individual program page on our site, or they can choose to narrow down results further by filtering by cost, age, gender, and other parameters.
Teens will be able to favorite the programs they're interested in and then come back to apply directly from our site. We want to create a seamless experience for teen participants so they spend their time going to these amazing programs instead of trying to navigate the search and enrollment process.
Coolest part of your experience so far with working on Torus?
Being able to rally so many great people to the cause and participate on our team.
We have an amazing Technical Co-founder, a K-12 educational advisor, a UX/UI design consultant, a team of three volunteer data scientists, and several teenage interns.
Cecilia Foxworthy is the Founder of Torus Teens and has an obsession with providing equal access to constructive after-school and future career enhancing experiences for youth in America. Follow her on Twitter or on LinkedIn for her latest moves.
Medvis Jackson is a web designer at Hindsite, curator at Kulchah and avid cricket fan. You can follow him @medvisjackson for his random thoughts.