Once upon a time in Moscow.....
This is the story of a relatively young English school in need of help from people like you.
This school is called "Everyday English".
On our cover picture, if you look close, you will see smiling faces of a lot of kids and six young adults in green shirts (we promise there is a reason for such a color!).
The people are smiling, the weather is fine and all in all it's a regular day at our special summer camp program that we call "Moscow Speaks English". What you see here is not the "would be" or "could be" that is the typical dream of any entrepreneur, but rather a project that has already begun, been successfully launched and has flourished over the course of three years.
This is a snapshot into the life of an educational center in Moscow, Russia which is dedicated to bringing English to the lives of children and adults alike. We work with native English speakers from around the world, bring them to Moscow and give them the opportunity to teach, live, share their passions and impact the lives of the children of Moscow. We live in English here. When parents and students alike walk through our doors, they are somehow crossing a threshold into a place not so typical among the many venues of Moscow. It is like a cultural warp that one canfeel instantly. You have just walked into a little piece of the USA. I say USA because our school director is from Detroit, Michigan as well. This is, however, a USA blended with a bit of England, flowing with Canada, as sunny as South Africa and brimming with the sounds of everything English.
We have built this school from the ground up and we truly love it. Our students love us too. The many reviews we receive are testament to the lives we've touched, smiles we have been able to entice and most importantly, how we have been able to bring English education to Moscow.
Now every success story has a middle section where things get tough. No truly gripping story could be built on nothing but high waves and blue skies, right? And that is exactly where we have recently found ourselves. So I would like to explain why we are raising money. I call it "growing pains".
Our current situation with the school has seen us grow tremendously in the past few years. We have a kindergarten now for the littlest of learners, speaking clubs, Christmas and Halloween parties, special events and lots of group lessons. Our city summer camp has finally gained a worthy amount of name recognition and is rising in popularity. This growth convinces us that we are on the right track, but simply not quite there yet.
Our growth has led to an immense need for the growth of our administrative capacities. We were drowning in work, burning out and doing five jobs at a time instead of one. Now, we are in the phase of completely reorganizing the structure of the company to cope with the volume of work that we have. The addition of our main school property brought 2,000 square feet of potential. We have used this to build an all-English kindergarten, expand our summer camp and create a more educationally oriented base for our teachers as opposed to the office we were using before for administrative operations.
Growth has also hit our budget...hard. We have always managed to pay the bills, keep working and make ends meet. We know that reaching 0 doesn't come easily and we have come closer and closer to that goal. Now, however, the amount of money needed to simply run the school has reached a level that is far beyond the capacity of our individual savings accounts. We are experiencing the pain of growth. We are a teenager whose legs have grown so fast that it hurts. Hard to walk.
Right now we need staff to run the programs that are just reaching the beginning of their full potential. We need teachers and HR and employees to run the company. We now have a business. It has and needs every part of any other business. But we work with children and feel that we are making people's lives better. We provide for our employees, give them security and a chance to make our goals a reality. But if we cannot keep the lights on, fuel the engine and hold out until we can properly restructure, it will all come crashing down. What's more, it will do so on the weight of it's own success. A tragic comedy.
For that reason I am turning for the first time ever to fundraising. As a director the weight is on me not to fail the ones who rely on us for their well-being, as well as not to disappoint the loyal clients that have become our friends. The failure of a business is not the end of the world. We would move on, find other jobs, adjust and keep living. But I would rather not see that happen.
What do we need:
We need around 10-15 thousand dollars to "buy" enough time to begin earning properly in the new academic year. We have all the mechanisms in place, but need the time to allow them to reengage.
We need to support the following staff members:
6 new teachers to lead group lessons, run speaking clubs, teach Englishand work with children
1 HR director to process visas for teachers, secure housing for teachers, help adapt their lives to Russia. Recruit new teachers, create fair and clear work contracts and resolve misunderstandings and conflicts.
1 marketing director to take our advertising to the next level. We need analysis, strategies and clear goals to distribute information about us to a heavily saturated market.
1 client associate to speak with clients, create teacher schedules, relay important information and answer the phones that ring constantly.
1 methodologist to focus on kindergarten and build programs for our teachers around the needs of children 2 years and up. To support parents and consult with them about their children.
1 property manager to organize everything. Resolve problems, ensure orders are completed on time, get things fixed and quality control the entire facility.
Each one of these positions requires around 1,000 US Dollars a month to maintain. Not a huge sum for America, but considered adequate for Russia. We also need to pay our taxes, secure legal documents and purchase some small equipment additions for our staff.
Why can't we just get a loan?
- First off, as a foreigner here in Russia, I am very unlikely to be given a loan by a bank without the collateral backing of a Russian citizen. They consider my status as "high-risk". Secondly the interest rates in Russia for loans like this are very high. Anywhere from 10-20 percent could be required in the case that we were approved.
So we would like to turn to you for your help in keeping English alive in Russia and making it possible for teachers to come to Moscow, students to learn and for people to work. If all goes well, we will reach 0 one day, and then our success story will phase into the resolution part where the author realizes that things will be ok after all.
Take a look at our videos and pictures to see what we are really all about!
Our website: www.365ee.ru
Our facebook: www.facebook.com/365ee
-Aaron Figurski and Team