We have interviewed Ethan Adshade, founder of TEPHE, to learn more about his background story, how he started TEPHE, his advice on starting your own nonprofit, charity or social enterprise and the future he hopes to create through his work at TEPHE.
Get inspired, get involved and ask any questions you like.
Let’s get started!
Q: What is your biggest life lesson or key takeaway from this interview that you would like to stick with readers?
Ethan: “We are all experts/professionals in some capacity and we can all use our skills and knowledge to help the generations below us discover their passions and find their strengths.”
Q: Can you tell us more about yourself? What is your passion?
Ethan: “I love to surf, hike, hang with my dog, and serve the community! I get such a sense of purpose whenever I engage in civic and community building activities. Teaching was the greatest job I’ve ever had and after that being a lifeguard was! I just love helping/serving people it really fulfills my life.“
Q: What was the inspiration for starting TEPHE and how did you get started?
Ethan: “In my 2nd year teaching a friend offered to fly 4 students and myself to Catalina Island. I was denied permission by my principal due to the unknown liability involved. realized then if individuals wanted to help students, they needed an avenue to do it. I transferred schools and saw the same issues; chronic disengagement, educational apathy, and low community partnerships. It was clear students needed to understand why the material they were learning was important and how the knowledge applied to the real-world. I thought about the number of other professionals who wanted to help students but lacked an avenue to offer their resources and began developing TEPHE to fill this void.”
Q: What are your best tips for others wanting to start a nonprofit or social enterprise?
Ethan: “Just do it! I used to think I needed 200,000 to get TEPHE launched. We did it for 1/20 of that cost. You just have to get it done! Figure out what you want to do and do it yourself. Find the problem and just start solving it one at a time. Use free items to facilitate the operations yourself and worry about the automation of it later. When you do it yourself you’ll actually be beta testing it and you’ll be able to discover what users will need. Best piece of advice I ever received was to “narrow/focus the scope” don’t waste time building a hub and spokes for a wheel that won’t get you as much traction as you need, especially in the beginning.“
Q: What were your biggest challenges up until now?
Ethan: “Building a good team. That’s the biggest challenge then, now, and probably will be in the future. A good team is absolutely necessary to create a successful project. It doesn’t have to be all the same team members, in fact, it most likely won’t, but focus on building a strong team before you move forward and when someone drops out your priority needs to be rebuilding the team. I’ve realized that.“
Q: What are your happiest moments with TEPHE?
Ethan: “Seeing people’s faces when experiences happen. TEPHE is changing kids (and professionals lives) all of our experiences we’ve facilitated so far have been pretty extraordinary for the students and professional involved. I’ve seen kids cry because of how happy they were. We brought in a financial advisor to judge a stock pitch competition and the winner was a girl who struggled with math her entire life. She cried, her parents cried, it was AWESOME!“
Q: What future do you hope to create through your work at TEPHE?
Ethan: “I want to make school awesome for students. I want to empower schools to inspire their students within the confines of their own classrooms. I want curriculums to be more related to real-world. I want every student to have an answer (and a plan of how to get there) to the question “What do you want to be when you get older?“
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you face in achieving this future?
Ethan: “The education system, across the globe, is pretty resistant to change, or very slow to adaption. There are also school systems that don’t prioritize their students passions or strengths when building curriculums “
Q: How can readers participate in helping you achieve this future?
Ethan: “Get involved. If you’re a professional you need to have at least one kid in your life you’re a positive influence too. Open yourself up to the education system in your community and see what needs they have. Ideally, join TEPHE and use our platform to connect with schools and donate to us as well. We are a nonprofit and rely on your donations to help us spread TEPHE’s impact.“