By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer, Video by Igor Stepczynski | Broadcast Reporter
With face-to-face outreach programs stalled, a recent Cornell grad and a serial entrepreneur have taken their empowerment and education model online.
DFW area-based Let’s Thrive Now produces and aggregates content aimed at helping young people “thrive” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics include health, finance, education and lifestyle advice.
The site was founded by Cornell University graduate Alex Quian and Greg Weatherford II, serial entrepreneur and Southern Methodist University’s director of community engagement. The pair previously founded the outreach group Young Leaders For Change, but Weatherford said recent world events presented an opportunity for a change of course.
“I think one of the best things you can provide people in a time of uncertainty is accurate information,” Weatherford said. “Then they can take a deep breath and say ‘okay, I know what the situation is, I know I have information, now let’s act on that.’”
Quian graduated from college in December and said the hardships experienced by young people across the country, including his friends, was an inspiration for the site.
“It really came out of a place of not necessarily wanting to power through with our plans, but it was really seeing what this pandemic was doing to young people across this country,” Quian said. “I saw so many of my friends get their lives essentially turned upside down, but I knew even beyond that there were young people that were suddenly without a job and they didn’t know how to make ends meet or … would be dealing with challenges with their mental health.”
Let’s Thrive Now was built with a “holistic” view of the struggles of life during the pandemic. Quian said the duo began by “making a list of everything people might need help on,” and then seeking resources to fill those needs. This includes expert advice videos: original content produced for the site with professionals as guest presenters.
The site could remain in use after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, and preserving site and its compiled resources is “definitely” a priority. The pair believe many of the topics covered on the site will be relevant into the future, and Weatherford said the site was already eliciting positive feedback.
“One of the most rewarding things of the site is really being able to give what we call a “digital hug” to people,” Weatherford said. “Seeing and hearing the feedback from young people or parents saying that the resources really provided some comfort or much needed information that could help someone out of a situation has been the most rewarding thing of all.”
In the meantime, Let’s Thrive Now continues to add content. Weatherford said more guest contributors, including some Baylor alumni, will have expert advice videos premiering in late April or early May.
Quian said he’s open to sharing a wide range of perspectives through the site.
“We’ve had a lot of people reach out wanting to say that they want to help and be involved directly with the site,” Quian said. “That has been a really wonderful thing we’ve seen and we’re definitely open to college students reaching out with those same interests. This is again all about sharing perspectives and tips and guidance that would be helpful to people.”