Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Changing Education One Text Message at a Time

I started working on Pocket Literacy Coach in 2009. I officially launched our website – https://pocketliteracy.com – in September 2010. Which is when I made my first dollar. But it was a long journey to get there and there’s still a long way to go before my team and I are supporting every parent to help them make their child smarter! Take a look at this rich two-minute video to get an understanding of what Pocket Literacy Coach does:

 

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RhluAZpxoU

 

Pretty neat, right! What we are doing at Pocket Literacy Coach is supporting parents. We are providing parents with an easily accessible tool to help them make learning an anywhere and everywhere activity with their child. What parents love about PLC is that it is convenient and smart. Our clever daily activities make learning fun and easy. Easy because the activities are delivered directly to their cell phones. Fun because PLC activities make eating pizza into a math lesson on fractions; reading the paper becomes a scavenger hunt for three syllable words; a walk in the park becomes a botany lesson; bath time becomes poetry time! Busy moms and dads don’t have time to brainstorm and come up with research-based activities. But now time for planning is no excuse. My team and I have done all the research and plan learning activities for you five days a week and deliver it straight to your pocket.

The one thing that is not so awesome about the video you just watched is the fact that so few parents are involved in their child’s learning within the home. As I mentioned, fewer than 45% of parents read with their child. Being involved in your child’s development is essential for their success in school and in life. Yet the majority of parents are not involved. Not because they don’t care. But because they don’t have convenient, research-based support to guide them in the process. Have you ever heard of the Chicago Longitudinal Study? The CLS is the longest continuing research in the nation on parent involvement. For more than 40 years the researchers with CLS have been publishing their findings, which have demonstrated year after year that children with involved parents perform better in school (e.g. fewer drop out and fewer have to repeat a grade) and in life (e.g. these kids go on to have more fulfilling careers and are much less likely to spend time in jail).

My background is in education; I’ve been teaching for over 10 years. I earned my Ph.D. in literacy, language and writing studies from Temple University. My research has focused primarily on effective literacy training practices, but I have also spoke, published or been a campus leader on such topics as teacher training, curriculum reinvention, organized labor issues and the effects of fashion in the classroom. Outside of the classroom I work as an advocate for parent involvement and educate parents on the importance of parent involvement throughout the Chicago area. Pocket Literacy Coach was born in part from education background and in part from my entrepreneurial experiences (I’m also the inventor of the Obama Llama and the creator of Meta-threads, an educational kid’s clothing line).

My mission with Pocket Literacy Coach is to improve parent involvement in the over 25 million US households with children 12 years or younger. In addition to the reasons listed above, parent involvement is a critical component to re-inventing America’s system of education. One of the greatest flaws with our national dialogue about education reform is the fact that so little focus is placed on the parent-involvement component. We constantly point fingers and place blame on teachers, principals and schools. But teachers struggle to do their jobs effectively when there is no foundation for them to build off of. And that foundation starts at home with parents! Through my advocacy work and through Pocket Literacy Coach I am working to change this – one text message at a time!

Pocket Literacy Coach is the best answer to supporting parents because of our method of delivery: text messaging. Over 96% of Americans have cell phones. And every one of them can receive text messages. Unlike email or memos, a text message is guaranteed to get to moms and dads. Pocket Literacy Coach is a subscription. The cost for an individual is $5.99 per month. Organizations and schools who we work with and who sign up as a large group are eligible for group sales.

I had planned on establishing Pocket Literacy Coach as a 501(c)3. But as a non-profit venture PLC was not initially viable. And though it may be possible in the future to create a non-profit division of PLC, I have found that folks value our service more when it costs, when they have to pay. An interesting lesson I’ve learned along the way of being a socially conscious entrepreneur is that you can do well by doing good. Just because you have a noble cause and want to change the world doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it for free. We can’t all be Mother Teresa. But we can all make a difference in some small (or big) way.

Dr. Chris Drew

Dr. Chris Drew, Founder

Dr. Chris Drew, founder of Pocket Literacy Coach (PLC), has nearly 10 years of education experience and has taught English reading and writing skills at colleges and universities across the nation. His publications and lectures on pedagogy and literacy education established Dr. Drew as a thought-leader in the education field.

Dr. Drew’s education and literacy expertise lead to the development of PLC in 2009. Targeting parents of children between the ages of two and 12, PLC provides parents with inexpensive, convenient and creative mobile learning activities for their kids and helps establish positive daily learning habits.

In addition to developing PLC, Dr. Drew serves as president of Meta-Threads, a language curriculum and education clothing line that enhances language development in young children and increases vocabulary knowledge in young teens and adolescents. He is also an adjunct professor of English at Harold Washington College in Chicago.

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