Ala Carte Learning Solutions, Inc., a public benefit corporation, offers a variety of services to the education industry. The primary focus began with revolutionizing the way public and charter schools hired their “hard to fill” special education professional positions. As someone working in the education industry, Dr. Margo Barnhart noticed the demand to find and keep qualified individuals in specific areas due to competition among other industries for the same professionals. The demand on these professionals and the limited budget of school districts made coming up with an alternative solution necessary.
Ala Carte Learning Solutions, Inc. finds retired individuals who still have their professional licenses and are interested in working part-time and contracts them to schools. This makes it less demanding on the professional and less expensive for the schools since they are only paying for a part-time individual rather than one full-time professional that has to work among several schools in the district.
Margo started working with the East Colorado Small Business Development Center in 2015 to develop a business plan. She admitted to understanding the education industry very well, but needed some extra assistance with developing a strong business plan. Since working with her SBDC consultant she has found great value added with marketing assistance and refers many of her colleagues to seek out the SBDC services.
Since the launch of the business, Ala Carte Learning Solutions, Inc. has been able to expand their line of services to include consulting directly for the Colorado Department of Education as well as conducting feasibility and marketing studies with the Archdiocese of Denver. Margo also hopes to increase the amount of one-on-one instruction that her company can provide to students who are struggling in school and need additional assistance.
The competition for this industry is limited, and very few in Colorado are able to provide contracted employees that assist with specific special education staffing needs. Margo was able to take advantage of a niche in the market and has quickly made herself known as an industry leader. She plans on marketing her services to school districts across the state and has received many referrals from her current clients and continues utilizing the services of the SBDC.