Today we’d like to introduce you to Candice Williams.
Hi Candice, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I’m a Detroit native who had a big dream of becoming an educator as a child. I would play school with my teddy bears and pretend that my cousins were my students. Little did I know, that my journey of becoming an educator would come with a huge price. There was one major problem that I was facing. I struggled with reading and writing. Reading and writing came easy to me in lower elementary school, but once I reached middle school my academic skills plummeted drastically. Like many black children in urban communities living in poverty and striving to overcome trauma was the culprit of my academic problems. In middle school, I failed the exam to get into Cass Technical High School. Luckily though their process of appeals, my grades, letters of recommendation, and high state test scores saved me. Once I graduated from Cass Tech I applied for college. Once again, I failed another major test! Wayne State’s basic skills test showed that I was behind in reading, writing, and math. So, I had to take remedial courses for two years in order to graduate from college. My struggles with literacy came with a major price; tens of thousands of dollars in remedial college courses, two years of living in poverty, and most importantly my self-confidence.
However, my pain points became my passion. I turned my mess into a message. My career and entrepreneurial journey are all about creating equity in urban education, and specifical literacy. My mission has catapulted me into becoming a global trailblazer in early literacy. I’ve been nicked-named “The Reading Revolutionary”, due to my charming, innovative, and unconventional ways of teaching literacy to children of color.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Starting an education consulting business as a woman of color did not come easy. Eighty percent of educators in the U.S are white (mostly women). I had to break through the barriers of race within my industry. This meant that I had to think outside of the box. Building a brand in this day and age meant that I had tapped into my creativity. This is why I decided to create an online business; to reach a wider audience that would accept and love my personality. My 3-year-old son and I spent countless hours creating online courses for parents, videos for social media, and content to build Urby Education. While I waited for my online consulting business to take off, I wanted a higher-paying job to fund Urby Education. Building websites, running ads, and outsourcing social media managers was very costly. There were no loans, grants, or funding for Urby Education. While in my 9-5 I had to squeeze in time and money to fund my dream.
I applied for over 4 literacy director jobs (in which I was more than qualified) and I was rejected every time. I had even put a portfolio together of my proven strategies and track record of increasing literacy skills, but to no avail, I was still denied consulting opportunities. It was when I decided to take my online presence and global reach more seriously.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
I took my 12 years of experience as a certified teacher and Reading Specialist and developed a global reading academy for kids. Urby Education, LLC is an education consulting business that specializes in helping kids become confident readers. We have an online tutoring program and an on-demand reading academy called Urby Reading Academy. Urby Reading Academy allows kids to receive a live phonics-based reading lesson from one of our literacy specialists. By joining our on-demand reading academy, children from anywhere in the world can learn directly from me (Mrs. Williams). Also, children can get their very own Urby Lit(eracy) Kit to use in conjunction with our live or on-demand reading academy. Our kits are filled with books and writing utensils to make literacy accessible and hands-on for kids. Over 1.3k+ parents and teachers from 97 countries have enrolled in our online programs.
Reviews are coming in for Urby Reading Academy. Shalessa Ebron, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction at Plymouth Educational Center said “Just want to say our students Love, Love, Love, your program. Even the teachers who are supervising love the student engagement.” Only Urby Education can make reading fun for kids online!
We’ve partnered with Focus Hope, Udemy, The United Way of South Eastern Michigan, and Brilliant Detroit and hosted professional training and parent workshops. Thermo Fisher Scientific Corporation partnered with Urby Education to promote STEM through our “STEM is Lit” workshop for kids.
Urby Education promotes literacy through its huge social media presence on Instagram with over 20k+ followers. As an influencer, I’ve made reading accessible and quite entertaining on social media too! Urby Education has gained sponsorships with National Business Furniture, Teachers Connect, Really Good Stuff, Constructive Playthings, Little Justice Leaders, and Hand 2 Mind. These collaborations allow me to share hands-on reading resources with my audience. I was even a local television talk show co-host on The Teacher’s Lounge Talk Show which aired on WHPR and WADL for 3 of their six seasons.
I’m most proud of building a brand from scratch with my super-reader son Justin. In fact, I’ve inspired him to become a “six percenter” (a black male educator). Justin and I have been featured in School Bank, We Empower Magazine, Teacher’s Connect, Teacher to Teacher Magazine, Tee Read, and Constructive Playthings. I am also the co-founder and CAO of the Love of Literacy Foundation
What was your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory was using my imagination to create my future. I didn’t realize that playing school with my teddy bears and cousins was my way of stepping into my greatness. My cousins thought I was crazy for playing school during our summer breaks.
- Live Urby Reading Academy Lessons: $200/hr
- Urby Reading Academy On Demand: $8/month student (schools) and $60/month (families)
- Professional Training: $600/hour
- Drop-in Online Tutoring: $60/session
- Urby Literacy Kits: $25
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: urbyreadingacademy.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/urbyeducation/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/urbyedu
- Youtube: Urby Education
- Other: loveofliteracy.org