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Reflecting on...the very beginning

A woman with a beautiful spirit asked me if I would share some information with her and her friend who are considering starting up their own nonprofit. She asked a lot of the typical questions that one would ask when contemplating a new business. I was reminded of all the curiosity that Erica and I had when we first dreamed of EEE.

As we spoke, I thought about the many people who gave of their time and knowledge throughout the years. Though cliché, it seems like just yesterday when we didn't know much about this business; we just knew that we wanted to help some people, and that we were going to do our best to figure it out. As I spoke with this young lady today and answered her questions as completely as I could based on my own experiences, in my mind I knew that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to starting a business, running a non-profit, and touching lives. There's an old saying that the game is to be sold and not to be told. There are both legitimacy and exceptions within that generic statement. I have worked very hard and made many sacrifices to acquire the skills and expertise that I have. And, as a professional consultant, I receive compensation for helping others develop and execute strategies for their nonprofit organizations.

But, this conversation was different. It was more than "paying it forward" out of some sort of obligation or appreciation for those who helped me. Sharing my experiences and advice was the natural, innate thing to do. Aside from being honored that she thought highly enough of the work that I've done with EEE to pick my brain, I am excited about the positive things that she and her friend will do to uplift our urban communities. I am even more excited about the prospect that several years from now, another young person might approach her seeking direction for a new project to help others.


Kashanna Eiland is the co-founder and Executive Director of Empowerment through Education and Exposure, a nonprofit agency that promotes post-secondary education and career opportunities for Chicago youth. She is also a Social Impact Strategist and Speaker who aims to help socially conscious individuals and organizations bring their bright ideas to fruition.


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