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Revolutionizing Student Support: Introducing Seeds of Success


Introduction:

In the fast-paced world of higher education, students often find themselves navigating a labyrinth of challenges, from academic pressures to mental health concerns and basic needs insecurities. Recognizing these struggles, a group of passionate stude nt leaders has embarked on a journey to transform the landscape of student support forming the 501c(3) nonprofit, Seeds of Success.


After graduating high school in 2019, I struggled to find success in college. I first went to college for Computer Science, where I had been really struggling with depression and insomnia. Then out of pure coincidence, I got sick with mono, tonsilitis, and strep throat – AT THE SAME TIME. I was bed-sick for a month, and I dropped out shortly after. Then, wanting to try college again, I transferred to Saint Thomas where after finding a little success, I was forced to dropout or spend $60,000 to do online classes due to COVID. I have ADHD and knew paying that much for online classes was a bad fiscal decision to make, so instead I dropped out of college for the second time, working in retail until I felt I was ready to be successful in college. During this time, my best friend went into an episode of violent psychosis. He attacked me and I rushed my friend into my bedroom to protect us. I had to hold my lock-less bedroom door with my body against it for over an hour as he tried to break down the door to kill us. This event would cause me to develop PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder, along with having the deep-seated realization that life is extremely precious and that I was incredibly lucky to be alive. I never thought something like that would happen to anybody I knew, especially not to me. It seems like a thing that only happens in the movies. My mental health pretty much shattered and I didn’t know what to do. At the time, I felt like I was a complete and total failure and that my life was ruined. These terrible life changing events happen all the time – and to everybody, whether your best friend tries to kill you or your car breaks down and you don’t know how you’re going to be able to pay for repairs so that you can continue getting to work and making enough money to survive. We need to share these stories with each other. We need to let each other know that we are not alone. Some people are alone though. Some people have nobody. In March 2021, I made one of the best decisions in my life, I got a therapist, and I started working hard on my mental health and personal growth in general. This changed everything for me. Going to therapy and not only healing from my trauma, but also SEEING how much I had grown as a person, I realized my purpose. I was very privileged to have the support systems and people in my life that I had, allowing me to get back on my feet again. At-risk youth, foster care children, and many others often have nothing and nobody to support them when they fall, or they never get the opportunity in the first place. Many of our societal issues are caused by mental health issues that are created in childhood. My purpose is to be that support system for those that don’t have anything, I will spend my entire life on this.

I am writing this today as the founder of a nonprofit having worked with over a hundred volunteers in our first year, on the brink of a major technological breakthrough that could change the world. This is only because of the many amazing role models and mentors that stepped in for me and empowered me to believe in myself and to become the person I wanted to be, which is the same thing I will do throughout my life for others. Just three years ago, I had ADHD, PTSD, anxiety disorder, depression and I was a two-time college dropout working a dead-end job with no real friends left after moving back home with my parents. Today, I proudly introduce Project CARLA (Campus Assistant for Resources Learning and Accessibility) – a genuinely groundbreaking initiative aimed at revolutionizing how students access vital resources and services through the research and development of AI technology.

At the heart of Project CARLA lies a commitment to empowering students. We believe that every individual deserves seamless access to basic needs and mental health services, regardless of their background or circumstances. Our mission is clear: to provide students with the tools they need to thrive, not just academically, but holistically.


Our Business Model:

As an organization, we believe that greed and capitalism have gone too far. There are companies trying to build what we are trying to build with hundreds of millions of dollars invested into them, but they do not care about helping people, they care about making a profit. One of our long-term goals is destroy the profitability of the entire industry of AI in mental health, basic needs, and support services by providing a low-cost (our cost is 1/10th the price) alternative that is designed by the shareholders of the education systems we are supporting rather than being designed by a group of 50 year old corporate executives. Eventually our low cost alternative will drive down the price of this technology worldwide through the economic pressures of supply and demand, making the technology extremely affordable and accessible to anyone.

This technology will save time for college support staff, students, and resource/service providers, while also increasing graduation rates, academic scoring, and overall student happiness. However, the best part about this technology is that we are making it cost so cheap, that it actually causes the schools to make more money from an increase in student retention rates than they spend on the cost of licensing our software. This means the technology will more than pay for itself. Save Money. Save Time. Save Lives.


A Collaborative Vision:

Central to our success is the collaborative spirit that drives our organization forward. With a diverse team of 50+ student leaders holding more than 40 different degrees, and hailing from 40+ colleges, across 20+ states and 15+ countries, we've cultivated a community united by a singular vision: to transform the way education systems support their students. Together, we're laying the groundwork for a brighter, more inclusive future.


Project CARLA isn't just about building a chatbot; it's about championing change on a systemic level. By advocating for policy reform and fostering partnerships with key stakeholders, we're paving the way for a cultural shift in how student support services are perceived and utilized. Our efforts extend beyond the confines of campus walls, aiming to impact communities far and wide.


Advocates Training Program:

In addition to our technological innovations, Project CARLA is committed to empowering advocates who will champion the cause of student support and mental health awareness. Through our Advocates Training Program, we're equipping organizations and student leaders across Minnesota with the knowledge and tools they need to become agents of change within their communities. Our Advocates Training Program goes beyond simply promoting our technology; it's about fostering a grassroots movement that prioritizes student needs and mental health on campuses statewide. By providing comprehensive training and resources, we're empowering advocates to promote systemic changes that prioritize student well-being. Our team’s experiences with student leadership and advocacy at our colleges have truly been inspiring and impactful on a local level. Our team has a wealth of knowledge that we’ve used to accomplish things like passing funding for permanent therapist or support service positions at our colleges locally and passing free college for low-income households in Minnesota this past year. We plan to train our Advocates Training Program members in how to not only be a powerful advocate with a strong voice, but how to accomplish real systemic change at a local level.


Central to our Advocates Training Program is the cultivation of partnerships with organizations and student leaders on campuses throughout Minnesota and the United States at large. Through collaborative efforts, we're amplifying our impact and reaching a broader audience with our message of support and empowerment. By working together, we can create a network of advocates dedicated to driving positive change within the higher education landscape.


Through workshops, seminars, and one-on-one meetings, we’re supporting the professional development of these young leaders. From understanding the intricacies of our technology to learning effective advocacy strategies, participants in our program emerge equipped to make a tangible difference in their communities.


As we roll out our Advocates Training Program and our system supporting technology, Project CARLA, we extend an invitation to organizations and student leaders across the United States to join us in our mission. Mental health and basic needs organizations often struggle to create effective change because many of us are focused on regional, niche, and very specific solutions. True systemic change will take all of us working in collaboration, creating processes and a community that has a shared vision for how to create this systemic change, not just a shared mission.


A Call to Action for Anyone Reading This:

This is why we’re so excited for the opportunity to work with the McCandle Project to fight against the mental health crisis together. Seeds of Success regularly brings in some of the best and brightest young activists and changemakers from across the US as volunteers. We plan to provide the McCandle Project with the volunteers and advocates needed to foster TRUE COLLABORATION within the mental health community, working side by side to raise funding, connect organizations together, and provide access to help!



Together, let's elevate the conversation around student support and mental health, advocating not only for the adoption of innovative technologies but also for a cultural shift that prioritizes working collaboratively to solve these issues we are all fighting against.

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