“We’re trying to get students to a point where they’re not just surviving and trying to make ends meet.”
Those are the words of Ajamu Attard, the National Director and CEO of Student Support, a for-profit social enterprise that makes essential services affordable and accessible to students.
Student Support works with internationally recognized service providers like Calm, Udemy, Aaptiv and Nimbus Learning to make everything from online learning, job skills, mental health supports, writing assistance, personal training and fitness services accessible for a fraction of what it would typically cost.
Student Support helps provide these services to students for a significantly reduced rate.
“We’re talking 98 percent off,” says Attard.
Fees cost each student less than $50 per year, and can save students thousands of dollars on mental health supports, supplementary education and health and fitness services that they would otherwise have to pay for independently.
“We’re empowering students to thrive,” says Attard.
Ajamu Attard says when students are able to get access to the services they need and manage their stress, they are better able to devote their time to the things that matter most.
“They can perform well academically, they can devote time to networking and get ahead in their career.”
“Most students are trying to get to the same place, which is typically a well-paying job,” says Attard, who thinks more needs to be done to support students so they can focus wholeheartedly on achieving their dream careers.
“The struggle to get there is immense.”
Attard says that when you’re a student, you can’t simply separate academics from your entire life.
“If you feel mentally poor, that is going to impact the way you perform academically. If you’re worried about your income, if you’re worried about paying rent, if you have a part-time job, all of these things are going to impact how you perform academically as well.”
Ajamu Attard reflects on his own time in school and says he’s grateful for all the support he received when he needed it the most. It was the support he received from faculty and staff, and from friends that allowed him to thrive and grow into the successful entrepreneur he is today.
Things weren’t always easy for Attard, who comes from humble beginnings himself.
Although Attard was the recipient of the prestigious Top 20 Under 20 Award and the Lincoln M. Alexander award, as well as several other top-notch awards and accolades that highlight the young entrepreneur’s career, he had his own struggles with poverty and homelessness.
At the age of 16, he decided he was forced due to family circumstances to leave his home environment and fend for himself.
Attard says he is grateful for the people who supported him along the way, because it ultimately helped lead to his success as a student and eventually as an entrepreneur, helping other students like himself.
“I was becoming enthralled in this mission to help other people because it was crazy, I ended up on TV, I got all these awards, and I got to improve people’s lives,” says Attard, recalling when things started to change for him.
“I looked at my self esteem – all this stuff is changing,” says Attard.
“Just a couple of years before I was in a shelter.”
Attard says it’s still early days for Student Support. The company plans to do much more than package services and make them more affordable for students.
Attard has plans to continue growing as a social enterprise that continues to give back to students and the community.
Attard wants to remind students that even if they are not checking all of society’s check boxes, they can still win in their own way.
He goes on to say Student Support’s mission is about finding new ways to give back to the student body and uplift students so they can perform at their best.
Attard is also hoping to continue investing his time in speaking engagements to empower students and help them overcome struggles of their own no matter what they might be.
So far, he has spoken at RISE, which is an organization that lends funds to entrepreneurs with mental health issues. He has also spoken at SAAS North, which is one of the largest conferences for SAAS companies in North America.
“It’s all about lifting each other up.”