Introducing… the Fiveable House! How an edtech startup will use co-living to accelerate

Amanda DoAmaral
Nov 14, 2018 · 9 min read

In short…

I’m Amanda and I founded Fiveable last year. I’m an activist, an educator, and an entrepreneur on a mission to make college more accessible and affordable for millions of students. By building relationships with teachers and creating high quality resources, I grew Fiveable organically into a startup that reaches over five thousand students and teachers.

Fiveable trains teachers and supports students across the country in collaborative and responsive ways using live stream technology and multimedia resources. It’s a lot of fun.

In order to accelerate our growth and save high school students tens of millions of dollars in college credits this spring, I am looking for a team of leaders, creators, and game-changers who are fired up by this mission and ready to join me on this journey.

The Fiveable House is our co-living social impact incubator where we live and work together toward a common goal: grow Fiveable. Read on to learn more about my story, the Fiveable mission, and all of the details about the Fiveable House.

This team will include three roles: Head of Growth, Content & Community Manager, and a Social Media & Creative Director. Each of these roles is defined in this document.

Apply here to join the team or reach out to me directly at amanda@fiveable.me with any questions. You can also connect with me on Linkedin or Twitter.

→ The Fiveable House will take more than just the team. Please consider supporting our work through our Patreon page to make this dream a reality.


How it all began

In the last year, my mission to help students access post-secondary education has taken me across the country and into experiences I never could have imagined. I started live streaming review sessions for AP World & AP US History last spring because students are racked with stress over these tests, and I can help them pass. These exams are one of the only tools students have to compete for college admission and lower the cost of tuition with credits, but the supports available are limited for both students and teachers. So I set out to change the game.

At Fiveable, we live stream support in 10 different AP subjects every week to nearly 5,000 registered students and teachers. We’re focused on collaborative learning to build confidence, practice skills, and break down concepts.

As we head into the spring, I am confident that with a team of kick-ass, passionate-as-hell, effective leaders, we can get Fiveable to go viral in classrooms around the country, just as AP® season hits. We would save students millions of dollars.

The reality is, most startups don’t make it. But students and teachers across the country need us to defy those odds. We need to shake things up to make this happen. So today, I am officially launching the Fiveable House, which will be our very own media incubator and social impact co-living and working space.

As an experienced leader, I know that the best work happens when you have a team that you truly love being around. I’ve done all kinds of programs and my favorite were the times I lived and worked together with incredible people. I’ve done it on political campaigns, in teacher training programs, and in experiential education. Now, I want to do it with my own startup.

I’m looking to bring 3–5 people on our team, choose a location, rent a house, and get to work building a content creation machine, designing an intuitive product, and a crafting a brand that we are all insanely proud to flaunt.

I’m not your average founder. I’m woman of color in my late 20s, who is facing crippling student debt and is stressed each month about access to health care. Not to mention I’ve spent much of the last several months speaking out, protesting, and canvassing, because 👏🏽 we 👏🏽 all 👏🏽 should. I might not have all the advantages and connections that some insiders do, but I have more than enough passion and hustle to make up for it.

There’s me, casually getting arrested on the steps of the Capitol last month.

All of what makes me a non-traditional founder also makes me the exact right person to do this. I am driven by a future for my students, my family, and myself. And there is nothing more motivating than that.

I am 100% sure that the business I have built will be successful with a team of equally passionate hustlers by my side. I’m doing something non-traditional because as long as the odds are stacked against me, I am going to use every ounce of creativity and leadership to make this happen.

Already fired up to join the House? Apply here. Want to support us? Donate here.

To truly understand the urgency for this project, let’s take a deep dive into why I’m building Fiveable:

I taught AP World & AP Human Geography in Oakland for 5 years and after leaving my classroom, I missed having students. I also needed to find a way to make money, so I started learning everything I could about online businesses and marketing so that I scale my tutoring.

I pivoted relentlessly until I finally landed on a model that started working and I realized I was on to something bigger than I could imagine. The idea was to live stream weekly support to groups of students across the world who were studying for AP World and AP US History. I started with those two subjects because that’s what I knew. I went live to explain concepts like the spread of Islam and took as many questions as students had.

The more time, energy, and money I funneled into this idea, the more it worked. I began to articulate a grander vision because I truly believe that I can make a sizeable difference for millions of students. I am someone who did not benefit from a service like Fiveable and I am paying for that dearly in loans and stress.

This whole year has been a risk for me, but the urgency to get it done is very real.

The simultaneous increase in college tuition with the competitiveness of admissions is a travesty that will leave another generation of students buried under debt and create an even more stratified society.

I‘m shook by the level of debt I left Boston University with and then added to at Loyola Marymount. And I’ve tried every possible way to consolidate or find loan forgiveness, but there is just no saving grace from private loans. I thought I had it bad until I found out that tuition at BU this year is up to $53k, which is a solid $17k more than it was my freshman year in 2008. Seriously, how the hell are the class of 2022 and beyond going to be okay after graduation?

Not to mention, it’s harder than ever to get accepted. If I applied to BU this year with my high school transcripts and SAT scores, I probably wouldn’t even get in. That’s why more students are taking AP exams now than ever before. Actually, the number of exams taken has tripled in the last 16 years because these exams not only give students the opportunity to save $4,000 in college credit, they also make your application more competitive.

This chart makes me want to throw things.

So as I see it, there are two options for current high school students as they look forward:

Door #1: Aggressively stack your resume and transcript to get accepted and earn enough financial aid (or have enough family money) to get a degree from the college of your choice as quickly as possible.

Door #2: Choose not to go to college (totally fair choice) and get a job or join the military or take a gap year or follow whatever passion doesn’t fit into a classroom.

My drive to teach for five years in Oakland was always to help students find door number one and to make sure they had the skills they needed once they got there. I totally get that college is not for every student, especially when it costs this much, but it’s also a beacon of opportunity that should be accessible. And APs are a way to get there.

In my second year as a teacher, I was given a section of AP World History, which I felt wholly unqualified to teach at twenty three. I’m honestly so thankful that my concerns were ignored. Just like it does for students, teaching an AP class made me better.

Skyline High School, AP World History 2015–2016, Portable 104

I started to work double time so that my students could pass their exams, which would earn them credit for two college classes and save them some of the debt stress I was feeling. I became hyper focused on teaching APs because I felt like that is where I could make the greatest impact. I knew I could get any student where they needed to be on exam day and I really loved experiencing that journey with them.

Long story long, since I have been out of the classroom I have made it my everyday mission to scale what I did within those four walls.

Great teaching is everywhere, but the odds are stacked against educators in every way and that does not leave students with a fair shot at storming through door number one. At Fiveable I’m working on solving this problem both for students and teachers with live streamed collaboration, instruction, and support.

Last year, over 90% of our inaugural class of 400 students passed their exams in AP World History and AP US History. That means just last year alone, Fiveable saved students over one million dollars in college credit. And in this moment, Fiveable is a team of seven teachers with 4,648 students and 236 teachers enrolled, 89% of whom have joined in the last two months.

I’m literally bursting with ideas and excitement about how to use live streams to help students and teachers in APs, college admissions, and beyond.

Fired up to join the House? Apply here. Want to support us? Donate here.

On to the the Fiveable House!

The House is our media and social impact incubator. It’s like the hacker house model, but everyone in the house is working on the same mission. We’ll make decisions together, create goals, brainstorm ideas, delegate tasks, and have a stupid amount of fun along the way.

A lot of what we will do is create community and content for students and teachers through social media, articles, videos, and even a podcast. We’ll develop a clever strategy to meet students where they are and we’ll leverage our creativity to get students and teachers excited about Fiveable. Ultimately, we will create a thriving social impact startup that will change the game for students.

We are looking to fill three roles in the Fiveable House for this spring. Here’s a quick look at each role, but more information can be found here.

  • Head of Growth: Develop and implement a digital marketing strategy to build brand awareness, acquire new users, and inform product innovations.
  • Content & Community Manager: Create and manage an ambitious content calendar and build an engaging online community to support students and teachers as they focus on APs this spring.
  • Social Media & Creative Director: Build an engaged following across social media networks and lead the creative direction of graphics, videos, and podcasts.

By living and working together, we’ll be insanely productive. We can create freely, collaborate often, and become a close knit team that can seamlessly leverage each other’s strengths. Plus, we’ll have more capital to reinvest into the work.

Quick facts:

  • Applications are rolling until the team is finalized.
  • The House is located in Chicago, IL.
  • The team should be fully committed to the Fiveable mission and work full time in the location of the house from January to May.

Compensation and benefits include:

  • Fiveable equity
  • Rent, utilities, and entertainment subscriptions for the house
  • Monthly stipend for student loans, health insurance, and food
  • Profit sharing or other form of monthly bonuses developed by the team

As of today, applications to join the team are officially open. I encourage you to read through the details below and to apply if you just got excited thinking about this opportunity. Oh, and spread the word to the masses, the Fiveable House is ready to go!

If you have any questions, hit me up at amanda@fiveable.me. You can also find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Please consider donating to support the work of the Fiveable House.

🔥

Amanda DoAmaral

Written by

Founder of @thinkfiveable. I’m documenting my journey to make post-secondary education more accessible to students. #edtech #startup #education

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