In May of 2015, Mike Anderson, HowDoWe Co-Founder, and a friend were on their way to pick up Tracy for a long weekend away from the city. At the time, Tracy was a special education teacher for a Chicago Public School (CPS) in Woodlawn, Chicago.
As they pulled into the parking lot, Mike noticed a boarded up building right in middle of the school's campus. Mike asked, “What happened to that building?” Tracy explained that it used to be the cafeteria and it had burned down several years ago. Mike was shocked that a boarded up building could sit right in the middle of a struggling school’s parking lot for so long, without receiving necessary repairs. Mike thought, how could this building be re-purposed? Is there a way to make it into something beneficial for learning? At the very least, how could someone in the community go about supporting this project, if they wanted to help?
With these questions in mind, Mike approached childhood friend, Brian Letzter, with the idea of building a platform that would connect school projects to potential donors. Brian had shared a similar experience while he was serving in the Army, on a tour of duty in Iraq. He recalled handing out books to students that lived in extreme poverty. This was an experience that stuck with him as he realized how helpful these materials could be for students and teachers in this situation.
In September of that year they created HowDoWe, Inc., an organization dedicated to helping schools become more efficient through technology, thus improving the learning environment for students.
UNDERSTANDING THE ISSUES
Whether you are a well-off, self-sufficient school district, or one struggling to get state funding, the ability to be transparent about student needs is important to your success as an institution. Take the third largest school district in the nation, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), as an example. They have made significant progress in the past few years, improving test scores and increasing graduation rates. CPS CEO, Janice Jackson, credits some of this success to data-driven approaches, supporting civic engagement, and keeping an open line of communication with the community, especially parents. There are still significant challenges ahead, particularly related to overcrowding and access to high quality facilities. In 2017 alone, CPS received over $850 million dollars for their capital improvement plan, with an additional $78 million received from external sources, including self-funding.
All schools employ "self-funding" practices to some extent. At HowDoWe, our goal is to make sure that these efforts are maximized as much as possible. We also focus on improving civic engagement, but with the use of software solutions, ones that allow schools to be open about their needs and opening the door to community participation. Our landmark SaaS product, HowToFund, gives school administrators and teachers the ability to post projects to their own unique fundraising web-page. Parents and outside supporters can view details about, and make direct contributions toward, these individual fundraisers. Meanwhile, schools can track contributions for accurate record keeping.
Co-Founder & President
Michael Anderson is President and Co-Founder of HowDoWe, Inc. Mike’s background is in
finance and marketing. Over the past six years, Mike has led the Corporate Access function of
an investment bank and served as the Head of Marketing for an Investor Relations consulting
firm in downtown Chicago. He holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Loyola
University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business, as well as Bachelor’s Degree in Business
Administration with a focus in Finance and Management from Augustana College in Rock
Co-Founder & Vice President
Brian Letzter, Vice President and Co-Founder, served more than three years in the United
States Army as a Cavalry Scout. He has served one tour overseas in Iraq and was honorably discharged from service in 2013 at the rank of Specialist. Brian holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Entrepreneurship from Illinois State University. Brian also created and hosts a monthly entrepreneurship program supported by Brooklyn Boulders. Brian approaches HowDoWe as an opportunity to continue to serve others and apply his background in
Advisor, Board Member
Paul Haas is a Producer at Lockton Companies, the world's largest privately held insurance brokerage firm. With more than 7+ years of insurance sales experience, he specializes in serving clients with complex risk management, insurance, and employee benefits matters. Paul serves as a Board Member and Advisor to HowDoWe, assisting to expand client relations and advise on strategy. Paul holds a Bachelor's Degree in Finance and Accounting from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.
Adam Smith serves as an Advisor and Developer for HowDoWe, Inc. Adam currently works as a Technical Consultant with a leading business and technology consulting firm in Chicago. Prior to that, he assisted in the successful launch of a B2B tech healthcare startup, and was solely responsible for directing development and delivery of all technology relating to the company's products. He graduated from DePauw University, majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Economics and Business Administration.