Berlin Hustles Harder: The After School Edition

From artificial intelligence to making salads, After School Hustle offers free skill-building workshops for high-schoolers.

by Nicole Winchell, January 31, 2018
After School Hustle

A central aspect of happiness is the feeling of self-worth. Unfortunately a perceived lack of abilities can manifest itself early in life. After School Hustle wants to change this. Their aim is to shape the next generation to be more confident and aware of all the opportunities that life has to offer. How? Pawel Mordel, founder of After School Hustle, shares their story. 

Tell us about After School Hustle - where did the idea come from and what is your mission?

We are shaping the next generation to be more confident and aware of all opportunities that life has to offer. The traditional school system in Germany is very important, but it has certain blind spots. For young people aged 13 through 18, we are building an additional educational program which teaches them new skills and exposes them to inspirational biographies. Thus we hope to lead them to more fulfilling lives and having a positive impact on the community.

Your work is grounded on fostering well-being, what does well-being mean to you and how can it be cultivated?

A central aspect of happiness is the feeling of self-worth. By creating, people manifest themselves in the world and can be proud of their accomplishments. A perceived lack of abilities results in feelings of shame and sadness. The central aim of After School Hustle is to guide young people through the frustrations of learning and showing them why their effort will ultimately pay off.

You provide free skill-building workshops for high-schoolers in Berlin - can you tell us a little more about the workshops and exactly what kind of skills you aim to help students develop?

Essentially we are looking to develop a desire to learn and grow in young people. The topics of our classes are almost incidental. As we are just starting out, we focus on workshops that are easy to understand and do not require too much commitment. So far we had one-day workshops in rather obvious disciplines such as photography, illustration and DJing. But we already have concrete plans for diverse topics such as entrepreneurship, artificial intelligence and making salads.

Who are the coaches? Do they undergo a training or certification process?

The central contribution of After School Hustle is to increase the supply of people who teach. Our coaches therefore are all volunteers who are accomplished professionals in their fields. We help them to develop the format of their workshops and are always present when they interact with our young people. Quality control is a major concern of ours, so we will continue to look into more formalized training and certification for our coaches as the program matures.

What has been your social impact to date?

The only thing we can say with certainty so far is that a couple of dozen kids had pleasant Saturdays. They consistently give us positive feedback, come more than once and bring their friends. Research indicates that after school programs indeed have positive impact on young people on multiple metrics. But this can only be the starting point for us. As we scale up, we need to be more systematic about measuring not just the outputs, but also the outcomes of our activities.

You’ve mentioned that you’re approaching developing After School Hustle with a startup mindset - what does this mean and what’s next for ASH?

Most important in this regard is leanness and agility. We are designing products for young people, for coaches and also for our donors. So we need to continuously test our assumptions about what they really want. Certainly we have a vision for the next ten years, but as people smarter than us have been saying for a while: “Planning is guessing.” Other tenets are that building is better than talking, and shipping is better that perfecting. This mindset sets us apart from many people, especially in the social sector. Every day we are getting faster and more efficient at what we do, which ultimately should lead to a significant social impact.

How can people get involved or support your work?

After School Hustle would not be possible without the many supporters we already have, from coaches and advisors to people who provide spaces and supplies. We are always looking to involve more people in our adventure, so of course we reply to every email and take every meeting. Get in touch with us to discuss opportunities to collaborate. Needless to say, a quick fix for your desire to contribute is the donate button on our website.