From Sweat to Success: Using Summers Wisely

Karim Abouelnaga, is an ivy-league educated, inner-city public school graduate. He is the founder of Practice Makes Perfect, writes for Entrepreneur, is an Echoing Green Fellow, Global Shaper, and at age 23 was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in Education.  Karim also recently addressed the United Nations about the future of education and how to create positive change.


Q: What is your current venture?

Practice Makes Perfect (PMP), which addresses inequities in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods over the summer. Research has found that two-thirds of the ninth-grade achievement gap between lower and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. Students from low-income areas lose between 2.5 to 3.5 months of academic learning each summer, while their affluent peers are making academic gains. We’re trying to change this.

Q: How did you raise the first set of funds to start PMP?

I did one of the hardest things I knew how to do, I signed up for a triathlon. Then I collected $5,$10,$20 donations from all my Facebook friends and messaged 5,000 times over the course of 2 months.  3% of them responded and we hit our goal ($2,000) and we launched our first set of programs. Since that triathlon, Karim continues to run each year for PMP and you can SUPPORT the cause by clicking on this link.

Q: Did you ever think about quitting when things got rough?

You never really want to stop working. There will be days where you will be tired, but there will always be so much you want to do to make yourself, your team and your company that much better. That is a never-ending reward.There is something special about taking on a job that has no defined path: You get to chart the course and make it happen.


Q: Why do you do, what you do?

Going after your passion allows you to learn so much about yourself . I can’t imagine how I lived my life not fully understanding some of the things I know about myself today. The true learning about who you are will happen time and time again, you will make decisions that have no real right answer. The only judgment tool will be the values that you have set or the values that you are going to set.

Q: What inspires you?

My desire to leave a meaningful legacy that improves the world for future generations. I have been given so much and I want to be able to give that back to others.


Q: What drives your productivity?

Learning from my mistakes. You can’t be productive if you make the same mistakes twice…or worse yet, multiple times over again. Plus, I love what I do. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, it would be extremely hard to get by in a startup environment. Being an entrepreneur means assuming a lot of responsibility.

Q: What has been the greatest challenge?

I am 23 years old. As obvious as it may sound, I still have a lot of learning to do. There is a long road of personal and professional development that I still have to travel down.

Q: Where will PMP be in 5 years?

In so many cases, our kids are left to get in trouble and are not under adult supervision. The benefit that PMP is creating for every stakeholder, from the student to the teacher, is something I am the most eager to see scale. The vision is that one day students in low income neighborhoods will end school, take two weeks off, attend a PMP summer program for six weeks, take another two weeks off, and then return to school for the following year. This would happen as early as kindergarten so we can change the current cultural norm around attending summer school.

You can follow all of Karim’s endeavors by clicking on this LINK !