Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Reneca Benn

New Age Scholars

Dorchester, Massachusetts

“Ascendus came along at the right moment. The loan was a salary for a quality assistant, new toys, and a financial cushion for me.” –Reneca Benn

A Silver Lining

Reneca was working at a childcare organization when she was abruptly let go. “I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that I could just be let go after all the work I had put in. I didn’t even know what to do with myself.” Yet Reneca had been in the childcare industry since 2001, and it didn’t take her long to recognize her potential. “I realized because of the extensive childcare experience I had, I was already so knowledgeable about the industry. I said to myself, I’m going to open up my own daycare.”

In 2012, Reneca founded New Age Scholars (NAS), a home-based childcare program. With a license for four children, Reneca provides her children with the sort of attentive structure they eventually experience in school, filling their days with productive activities such as arts and crafts and reading. “NAS is where children learn and thrive. I prioritize constant communication with the parents to make sure I’m providing for their children’s needs.” Reneca also prioritizes engaging with the community. She hosts an annual Black History month fundraiser where local performers and vendors showcase African American culture through unique and compelling outlets. “This was something I felt was needed in my community.”

A Perfectly Timed Postcard

Reneca soon became aware of the financial challenges that stood in the way of expanding her business. She wanted to hire an assistant, “someone who is invested and wants to grow with me” as well as purchase more educational toys for the children. However, Reneca knew she would not be able to afford these enhancements on her own, especially when clients would occasionally leave abruptly without paying. Reneca discovered Ascendus through a postcard in the mail and was able to receive a loan through Ascendus’s Childcare Provider Initiative, which provides female entrepreneurs with a fast-track loan product tailored specifically to the needs of home-based childcare providers. “Ascendus came along at the right moment. The loan was a salary for a quality assistant, new toys, and a financial cushion for me.”

Unbreakable Bonds

After nearly two decades in the childcare industry, Reneca is finally able to have the freedom to make her own decisions. “I love having free range to do activities the way I would like to do them.” Eventually, she intends to transition into a commercial space. Reneca’s passion for working with children is evident in the strong and lasting bonds she builds within her community. “I love having close relationships with my clients. I still keep in touch with so many of my babies, some that are even in college now. For me, that’s the most rewarding part.”

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