Years ago, a single teacher touched Future Founders 2022 Fellow Kevin Celisca’s life and changed its entire trajectory; now, with Integrate School, he’s changing the EdTech game with software designed to empower all teachers to have the same transformational impact in the lives of their students.
As a first generation Haitian-American growing up in a low-income New Jersey neighborhood, Kevin Celisca saw the shortcomings of the American education system firsthand. Throughout grade school, he languished in underfunded and overcrowded classrooms, struggling to connect with teachers who were often too overworked to deliver meaningful lessons. If it hadn’t been for one fourth grader teacher, Kevin says, he might have fallen through the cracks.
Where the rest of his teachers and school administrators saw a lost cause and a stereotype, this teacher saw potential. She offered to tutor him every day after school, tailoring each of her lessons to Kevin’s specific needs and experiences. She taught in a way that made sense to him; she empowered him to see himself as intelligent, successful, and capable.
“Because of that single, committed teacher,” Kevin reflects, “I was able to excel in school [from then on] and earn a scholarship to college.”
It was as a student at Fairleigh Dickinson University that Kevin met his eventual co-founder for Integrate School. And the rest, he says, is history.
According to Kevin, Integrate School was founded to serve students like him—and teachers like the one who believed in him. The software helps school and district administrators streamline curricular planning by offering curated content libraries already mapped to grade level and state standards. Integrate’s pre-approved, easy-to-implement plans empower teachers to focus on what really matters: differentiating their lessons for each student’s needs.
“It’s always been about reducing instructional inequality and making teachers’ lives easier,” Kevin says–and that mission has propelled Integrate School to new heights with each passing year. In addition to securing several new school partners and extending contracts with existing users, Integrate has been relentless in its efforts to add value for its customers. Through partnerships with industry-leading companies like EdLink, Integrate has innovated its software to integrate with schools’ existing learning management systems to better allow teachers and administrators to respond to students’ individual needs. What’s more, Integrate was recently certified as an ESSER Level 4 Evidence-based educational intervention in compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This certification represents compelling evidence for the software’s “ability to empower schools, districts, and states to drive student outcomes.” For his part, Kevin is confident that the new designation will help expand Integrate’s impact in the lives of students and teachers across the country.
Today, Kevin cites the skills and community he has built at Future Founders as major contributors to his growth and confidence as a founder. As a member of the 2022 Fellowship Cohort, Kevin has relished the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs who can empathize with his experience.
“It makes such a difference,” he says, “to feel like you aren’t alone in the challenges you’re facing [as a founder], to have a community who understands what it’s like.”
Being part of the Fellowship has given Kevin the opportunity to talk through his journey with other young founders, to share common struggles, bounce ideas back and forth, and feel, “oh, this is actually normal” after every meeting. Being exposed through Fellowship workshops to so many different perspectives, strategies, and challenges has been crucial to Kevin’s development as a leader and a problem solver. And he’s only just getting started.
At his core, Kevin Celisca believes that education is the most powerful changemaking tool there is. Even as he continues to grow his company and establish himself as an innovator in the EdTech space, he has never lost sight of the story at the heart of his work. By empowering districts and teachers to meet the needs of all their students—across race, zip code, country of origin, and more—Kevin is breaking down the structural inequalities in education that almost held him back.
Applications for Future Founders’ 2023 Fellowship Cohort will open soon! Click here to learn more.
Click here to learn more about Integrate School.
Ready to get involved?
Join our newsletter for updates