“I really appreciate the support that Ascendus has given me. Working with Andrea and the team was a pleasure.”
“One of the biggest problems is when it’s time to go, the kids don’t want us to leave. One boy said it was better than Disney World. Another had tears in his eyes!”
Laura runs a children’s learning studio, called Robofun and develops educational programs for children in public schools in New York City. During the pandemic, Laura hit one of the biggest bumps in the road for her organization since its founding 25 years ago. “We are funded through grants, the grant funding for these types of programs just wasn’t as available anymore. In addition, as a service-based company, people were hesitant to drop off their kids for an after school-class for fear that they would get Covid.”
Laura needed funding to prepare for Robofun’s move to a new space that would put her on a storefront level, giving her more visibility to potential clients and enabling her business to be accessible to those with disabilities. “We had just started construction on a new location for the studio, and due to the pandemic, there was almost a year’s delay. We were paying double rent while looking for new contractors. We were continuing to develop new and engaging programs with robotics, coding, animation and Minecraft.”
Laura reached out to Ascendus and received a $100,000 loan through the New York City Opportunity Fund. “I used it to help with rent and construction costs.” In July of 2023, the Robofun studio will be at a storefront level, allowing her to attract more customers, and making it accessible to children and parents that are physically challenged. Because of the loan, Laura can continue providing educational programs and resources to interested children across New York City. “I really appreciate the support that Ascendus has given me. Working with Andrea and the team was a pleasure.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE, ONE PROGRAM AT A TIME
Public school classrooms in New York City are overcrowded, resources are limited, and creativity can often be put on the backburner. Usually, there isn’t enough funding for large scale programs that require equipment, specialized teachers, or teaching new skills outside of the daily curriculum. Laura’s organization changes that. “I wanted to change the paradigm so that kids love to learn and so they can have more ownership over their learning process.”
Through Laura’s work, students across New York City, regardless of their socio-economic status, can participate in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Animation, and Mathematics) workshops right in their own classrooms. Through working with the Department of Education, Laura holds workshops throughout public schools in the five boroughs, leveling the playing field and giving children connection to innovative, creative, and groundbreaking programs that many students often don’t have access to.
THE IMPACT OF CREATIVE WORKSHOPS ON CHILDREN
“In schools in New York City, there is so much test prep. It often curbs the enthusiasm of students, and there isn’t much room left for creativity.” Through her programs, students not only have a chance to creatively express themselves, but they can do so while learning entirely new skills that they wouldn’t have a chance to learn in their traditional school environments. Students gain firsthand experience, discover new passions, and open their eyes to new opportunities and future occupations that could be available to them.
Laura work is innovating for impact, creating communities that are inclusive, and continuously improving children’s education through adapting her programs to the changing world around us. “I didn’t know what I could bring to the table until I did it. I love teaching, and I wanted to do it in a more creative environment.”
Since the founding of her organization, Laura has received three National Science Grants – two for expanding educational programs for children in the Bronx and the third for collaborating with teachers to improve children’s connection to math using robots.
To learn more about Laura, visit: Robofun