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Meet Alexis and Imhotep Coleman of Urban Scholar Academy in Inglewood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexis and Imhotep Coleman.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
As Inglewood residents and parents ourselves, my husband and I established Urban Scholar Academy (Formerly Urban Scholar Athletes) in 2012 in direct response to the challenges we saw in our Inglewood community. We were surrounded by a low performing school district and we struggled to find academic resources (tutoring, after-school programs), for our sons and other children in their community.

Further, as a public-school teacher, I felt that my students were facing unique challenges that placed them far behind their peers in other communities. I desired to create a program where they could extend their learning and help master state standards in a fun & engaging way.

We piloted our program in Fall 2012 at a local recreational center where we offered Saturday Academy classes (fun & engaging reading, math & science activities) to local youth. We started with a class of twelve students. Soon after, other parents learned about the program, and every term, the classes grew. Every Saturday, from October thru May, for three years, we conducted the Saturday Academy program in which we serviced over 250 students. Setting up/breaking down the classrooms was very challenging, but it prepared us for our next phase–acquiring our own facility (July 2015).

In July 2015, we acquired a leased facility (635 sq. feet) where we could conduct our Saturday classes and also expand our programs during the week. In the fall of 2015, we launched Homework Club (M-F, 2:30 p.m.-5:00 p.m.), and Urban Scholar Tutoring Academy. That year, we provided services for approximately 15-20 youth/week for those programs. Running multiple programs, also allowed us to launch our summer academy (June-August 2016), where we serviced approximately 50 students daily.

In Fall 2016, we acquired a second academy location (1800 sq. ft.), 1 minute away from the smaller site. This allowed us to have an even larger impact. By having the second site, we were able to offer seasonal camps (winter/spring), implement our 2nd summer camp; and expand our Homework Club & Saturday academy services.

We currently offer the following year-round programs:

  1. Homework Club
  2. One-to-One Tutoring
  3. Saturday Science Academy
  4. Scholars to Scribes Saturday Academy (launch 2017)
  5. Winter/Spring & Summer Camps
  6. Homeschooling Academy (launch 2017)

Successes to Date:

  1. We conducted over 1,000 individual tutoring sessions in 2016-2017 academic year; students grow 1.5-2.0 grade levels within a 4-6 month period (I-Ready data).
  2. We service approximately 45-60 youth, a week for our daily programs.
  3. We received grant funding from Water Buffalo Club (van), Women Helping Youth Foundation (laptops), and Edison International.
  4. We’ve established a Parent Council (implement new ideas & fundraising initiatives).
  5. We have limited marketing; we receive new clients through word-of-mouth & waiting lists for our programs.
  6. We manage two academy locations.
  7. We recently became a vendor for iLead, homeschooling network.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Establishing Urban Scholar Academy hasn’t been an easy road. For starters, I maintain a full-time job teaching, take care of two children; all while running Urban Scholar Academy full-time, which is extremely challenging on a daily basis within my personal and professional life.

As a business owner of a non-profit, the biggest challenge has been securing funding (grants, fundraising) to sustain programs, outside of program fees. Additionally, we’ve struggled with recruiting new board members and expanding our reach by securing a larger facility.

Ideally, I desire to transition out of the classroom permanently when our organization has subsequent funding to offset the salary of an executive director.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
At the heart of Urban Scholar Academy’s work is the belief that the key to helping students succeed is inspiring their hearts as well as their minds, through engaging enrichment opportunities and robust, focused and high-quality academic supports—The ‘WHOLE LEARNER APPROACH.’

This Whole Learner Approach takes place throughout the various targeted academic support and intervention programs and services:

Saturday Academy: Every Saturday between September through June, scholars participate in project-based learning opportunities [Entrepreneurship–Business Marketplace, Science Projects–Scholar Science & Engineering Fair]. They also perform community service projects (e.g. park clean-up, homeless meals) to develop a sense of pride in themselves and their neighborhoods; and attend field-trips to extend their learning and make connections to the world around them.

Homework Club Academy: Scholars in grades 1st-8th grade receive academic support from certified teachers and staff with homework assignments and projects in all content subject areas. Additionally, they use the i-ReadyTM technology-based program to practice Common Core mastery in math & reading daily, conduct college readiness research investigations, receive supper & snack; and attend quarterly field-trips. Supplemental activities are also provided to help reteach skills.

One-to-One Tutoring Academy: Certified tutors (including teachers) utilize the I-Ready curriculum to implement one-to-one tutorial support in math & reading. I-Ready is a valid and reliable growth measure system that provides data-driven insight and support for Common Core standard mastery for struggling learners. Over 1,000 tutorial sessions were conducted during the 2016-2017 academic year!!!

Winter/Spring & Summer Academy: During the seasonal breaks, scholars receive fun & engaging Common Core instruction in math & reading from certified teachers; participate in Mad Science investigations in an effort to prepare them for the next grade level.

Additionally, they receive exposure to performing & fine arts; and technology through coding activities. Scholars culminate the week with a fun & educational field-trip around Los Angeles County.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was always excited to learn information about a variety of subject areas, particularly history and other individuals.

Additionally, I loved reading. In fact, I would go to the local library, sit in the corner, and read for endless hours books from the author, Mildred Taylor. I was always studious and gave 100% in all that was required by my teachers and parents.

I always had a desire to teach. In fact, while in high school, I taught a Sunday school class at my church.

While attending my alma mater, Howard University, I took courses in education and participated in internships at the Smithsonian Institution.

My first name means “helper, defender”. I believe that my life was created to help others; to touch a life along the way. I am committed to service and enjoy using my talents/gifts to better those around me and uplift the community as well. I recognize that change in the community begins with me, and I humbly take on that challenge of creating that positive change, daily within the classroom and in the programs of Urban Scholar Academy. I live by the motto, “committed to service & results”.


  • $25/One Hour Tutoring (Math/Reading/Writing) Session (Monday thru Friday, 5:15 p.m.-8:15 p.m.)
  • $55-$65/Week–Homework Club (Monday thru Friday, 2:30 p.m.-6:00 p.m.)
  • $130-$150/Week–Winter/Spring & Summer Camps
  • $75/Month –Saturday Science Academy/Scholars-to-Scribes Saturday Academy
  • $20/Week–Saturday Coding Classes

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Imhotep Coleman
Alexis Coleman

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