COMPANY: HIgher Family Achievement
“A world where every family can achieve and every student can succeed.” This is the motto that Nancy Klausner has put to use in creating Higher Family Achievement, Inc.
Higher Family Achievement is a federally recognized, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, founded in 2011 by Klausner and seven others. The organization’s mission is to aid under-privileged families through nutrition and educational enrichment.
Twenty-nine-year-old Klausner is a graduate of Clayton State University. With a degree in education, she says her students are her biggest influences. “Students are my motivation, my muse. They are everything to me. Seeing my families struggle and go through so much…So many families say to me, ‘if I just had a little bit more help, I could do so much more for my child.’”
Growing up in a large family, Klausner knows firsthand how providing the needs and wants of children can be an overwhelming task at times for parents. “I grew up in a family of eight; and while we weren’t economically disadvantaged, there were some things I would have liked to do that I couldn’t do because my family was so large. I wanted to provide those opportunities to other students and other families, and just really be a hand up and not a hand out.” It was Klausner’s strong upbringing that led her to become an entrepreneur. “My mom and dad always taught us that we are given gifts. We are given vision, and when God puts something on our hearts, we should go out and we should do it.”
Klausner became an entrepreneur after having witnessed things in her community that she wanted to change for the better. “I felt it was my job as a person in the community and part of the community to be the change that I wanted to see.”
Higher Family Achievement is a success to the students and families it serves because it’s foundation rests upon what each family and student needs, and not what others may think they need. “If you were a family coming to us we would sit down and talk to you and do an interview with you to see what you need. We are going to work with you to help provide the resources for your family and help you along the way.”
Klausner admits the startup process for Higher Family Achievement was not easy. The program experienced its share of hiccups. She, along with the other founders, realized they couldn’t meet all the needs of the families and communities that they serviced. The program was revamped to focus on two primary needs, providing food and educational enrichment. “Once we started focusing on these two things we realized these really [were] the bulk needs. Food is a primary need not just for the child’s nutrition, but it also helps the parent/guardian. [Now] the mom doesn’t have to work the second shift because she knows we’re going to bring her a box of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables.”
Education enrichment is also a HFA resource. “We feel that equal education is equal opportunities, as well as, equal exposure. If you don’t know that you can [master] civic engineering then how do you know to strive to be that? We expose our students to those things.”
Klausner has learned through trial and error, how to not only create, but maintain a successful and effective non-profit organization. “I know now to focus and hone in on one or two things. I wish I would have known that before [starting] because there was so much that I [initially] wanted to do in the community. She adds, “Look at your community and make sure what you’re doing or the service you are offering, is something that your community needs or there is a clientele for that.”
Higher Family Achievement is funded through private and public sponsors. The nonprofit’s main source of funding is generated from their two fundraising events held annually. The Couture for Change, fashion show and their annual award ceremony celebrate individuals who do great works within the community.
If chosen as a winner for the Under30FTV scholarship, Klausner will use the funds to create financial literacy programs. “As far as regular grants, we have not received them yet. We are really hoping that this can be our first grant so we can begin doing financial literacy programs, which we really feel so many families need.”
Higher Family Achievement is a program that grows with the students and families it serves. “Once you are in our program, we stay with you until you graduate from college or trade school. For instance, let’s say we have Amy who joins our program. Not only is Amy in our program, but her whole family is also in our program.” Servicing families and children from all walks of life, ages and demographics is also Higher Family Achievement’s mission. “We are blessed to have diverse demographics. We have people from different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. We feel that is very important because it shows us regardless of your ethnicity or your cultural background, there are certain basic things that families need to succeed.”
Eventually, Klausner hopes that Higher Family Achievement can spread its mission to surrounding states like Tennessee, Alabama and Florida. “Maybe, if we’re blessed and it’s something that God sees fit, we can do this throughout the whole nation.”