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About Us

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Our Story 

We started Real World Scholars in 2014 as a way to put money into the hands of students to practice entrepreneurship. We knew there was something special about the entrepreneurial learning process and we wanted to make it possible for every student to experience that magic – read: their own magic – in the classroom. What started as a question turned into a mission and has since impacted over 50,000 students who are using entrepreneurship as a vehicle for learning and empowerment. 

What We're About 

Entrepreneurship as a vehicle for learning – and liberation. 

The entrepreneurial process invites us to reimagine the world around us. It requires us to ask ourselves what problems we want to solve and how we can use the resources – both inside and outside of ourselves – to make that change happen. While some folks paint the entrepreneurial journey as a solo one, we believe it’s an invitation to assess what brilliance we each bring to the table and how we can use that collective brilliance to create a more equitable future for everyone. 

Schools don’t have a monopoly on learning.

Make no mistake – we love the learning and relationship-building that we’ve seen happen in schools. But young people have some of their most formative learning experiences outside of school – in their homes, at their family businesses, on their sport teams – and alongside people they know and trust.  If we want to change how we engage young people, we have to acknowledge, celebrate, and leverage the learning that happens outside of our schools and in the world beyond the classroom.

Bias toward (intentional) action. 

We believe in shipping your work out into the world, sometimes before you even feel ready. It takes courage and vulnerability to share early drafts of your ideas with other humans.  And yet, good ideas don’t become great ideas when we keep them to ourselves, waiting for them to evolve into something perfect.  Sometimes, this means we launch an early draft of an idea with the hopes that our community can give us the space, grace, tough love, and productive dialogue to turn it into something impactful for young people.

Our Team 


Christen Dunn

Special Project Manager - SWPA/Pittsburgh Region

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Elyse Burden

Executive Director/Co-founder

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Adam Mathis

Special Project Manager - Harbor Freight Initiative

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John Cahalin


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