Today we’d like to introduce you to Ahzin Bahraini.
Ahzin, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started Ketáb in January of 2019 as an idea that evolved into a fully-fledged non-profit. After years of tutoring and seeing the educational disparities among students, I was triggered to be a catalyst for changing student trajectories from high school to college. This is why I started Ketáb, an organization that helps students in Miami-Dade prepare for and apply to college for free. Before I continue, I must say that there is still a lot to do, but this is a step in the right direction.
Since January of 2019, Ketáb has grown to include about eight volunteers and serves ten students on a regular basis. Many of our students are first-generation immigrants, homeless students, and first-generation college students who are motivated to pursue their career goals through higher education. It has been a bumpy road, but seeing students pursue their potential and really push themselves is worth it.
Right now, we regularly meet at American Senior High to help their seniors with their college applications, SAT prep, and FAFSAs. Also, our volunteers host pop up workshops throughout the city for other students to get a start on their college applications and goals. As a pretty cool side note, our volunteers are mainly first-generation college students and college students of color who are dedicated to paying it forward to students who they may share similar experiences with. I think this is something unique about our organization that is missing in most college readiness conversations. Before COVID-19, we were planning to have a dorm supply drive at the University of Miami, but now, we will be working with community members to run a local dorm supply drive from remote drop off and pick up locations. This means that community members can help first year college students by donating some basic things like a mini-fridge, desks, chairs, futons, or anything that will help our students be prepared for life in a dorm.
Even though we have made huge strides, like getting into Miami-Dade county public schools, we do still struggle to provide some basics. Right now, we are still working to fundraise and help pay our students SAT fees, as well as provide snacks for our kids and volunteers. So, I think there is still a lot to do with getting our bases covered and being able to really provide for our students. The more I do this, I realize that college application help is only the tip of the iceberg. How can they focus on writing a personal statement, when their stomachs are growling?
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has been a very bumpy road! A tons of ups and downs, but we try to keep moving forward. One struggle was finding a way to access students. Right now, we are going into the public schools, but this limits who can access our services. For example, if we are in Miami Lakes after school, how can a student from Edison High get help? So, I think moving forward, we will be looking for a better public space this summer that is open and inclusive of all students in the county. Our goal is to encourage all students to come and get help, so I don’t want to see any student with the motivation be denied access to free SAT prep or budgeting help because we are not currently at their school.
I would say the other big obstacle is finding funding. Starting, working for, and volunteering at a non-profit is noble, but as implied in the title, not profitable. This sometimes makes it hard to expand. I will say, Ketáb volunteers go above and beyond. Every Wednesday, they drive across Miami from Coral Gables and North Miami to Miami Lakes, but it does take a toll on them. Literally, because there are toll roads, but also gas bills and time add up over the course of a year. Right now, we are working to figure out a way to increase funding for our organization, students, and volunteers.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Ketáb story. Tell us more about your organization.
Ketáb helps kids go to college for free. Our company is a 501c3 non-profit in Miami-Dade. We help students with college applications, personal statements, SAT/ACT prep, FAFSAs, and scholarships for free. Our goal is to see educational equity and see more students enroll and graduate from college. Our volunteers are dedicated to seeing a generational, educational shift among our youth. This is why we do all of this for free.
I am most proud of our mission as a non-profit. I am tired of seeing college students fail in college because the school system has failed them. The education system has failed students in ensuring that students receive the proper quality training and resources they need to pursue college and careers afterwards. Unfortunately, with standardized tests, graduation rates, and titles, students have been reduced to numbers not humans. This has stripped teachers of their agency in the classroom and students of learning quality skills they need to attain economic mobility.
At Ketáb, volunteers listen to students, encourage students agency, and help students reach their college and career goals. I think there is a lot of integrity in what we do and how we do it. There is still a lot to learn, but I think that our organization has a solid foundation of understanding that students are active learners and players in determining their own college and career goals.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Hmmm. I’m not sure if we have had good luck or good people. I guess I am lucky to have found good people. People who share the same vision of promoting education equity and college attainment among students. I have been lucky to surround myself with people who are good people and dedicate their time and energy to seeing students succeed.
- Website: www.yourketab.com
- Phone: 786-220-1776
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @yourketab