For 12 years, Jay Veal, also known as the Stylish Tutor, has been an educator. Pivoting from IT into the field of education, Veal has worked at every level in the education system. He taught high school math for nearly five years — everything from Algebra 1 to AP Calculus — spent three years as a district administrator in Dallas, Desoto, and Uplift districts followed by four as an adjunct mathematics professor. Throughout his career, he observed one concerning trend: the achievement gap, or the disparity in academic performance between white and black students.
Black students often didn’t have same access to resources like tutoring, advanced classes, and higher education. It’s a problem that also affects students from lower income families and students who were immigrants.
With no venture capital backing him — simply an idea — Veal set out to provide those resources through INC Tutoring and offer a holistic approach to learning.
“We treat everyone we take into our organization like family,” he said in an interview with Local Profile in 2018. “Holistic means involving everyone in the process – parents, administrators, coaches if they play sports, etc.”
Today, INC Tutoring is the top African American-owned private education company in the Southern US. It serves students of all ages in STEM and beyond. There are 95 INC tutors spread across five cities: Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, Washington DC, Atlanta, and Chicago.
Now the COVID-19 pandemic and protests over police brutality against Black Americans has provided another opportunity for Veal to pivot. He founded the nonprofit Black Tutors of Social Media to connect students of color with tutoring services in their local area, as well as highlight Black-owned tutoring companies across the country.
“It was quick,” Veal recently told Local Profile as part of the Local Leaders series. “I woke up, and I was like, ‘Something needs to be done, and nobody else is doing it.’”
The first change came to INC Tutoring. Clients were asking for more resources during the quarantine. They got requests for services outside of tutoring such as help with academic writing, ghost writing, resume reviews, and literature reviews for doctors and physicians.
So Veal rebranded as INC Education and began offering educational services and set out to work on the education gap.
It’s the perfect time for the project. Students completed the end of the 2019/20 school year on Zoom and teachers had to adapt their entire lesson plans. In a time of flux due to the quarantine and the uncertain status of in-person school in the Fall, tutoring services are critical additional resources.
Because of protests ignited by the murder of George Floyd, there has also been a rising drive to support Black businesses and Black voices. Literature by Black authors has been flying off the shelves, and suddenly, clients were asking Veal if there were other Black-owned tutoring companies like his.
Black Tutors of Social Media was launched on Instagram. A website and mobile app are on the horizon. “We want to create space for these privately owned entities so that people can find them,” Veal said. “Families can rely on us. People can come to us for resources: kids, educators, parents, families, and other tutors.”
Every entity will be vetted by his team, and he hopes to have educational activities available for students, provided by educators. He also plans to offer other opportunities like travel, college tours, and career mentoring to students, as well as ways to offer services for free to those who can’t afford them.
“We have to have deep relationships with our students of color,” Veal said. “We have to keep in mind what we’re able to do, what students are able to do, and give them information so they can run with it. How do we become entrepreneurs? How do we take our knowledge and be creative, and impact the community? How do we ensure we make better decisions for young generations, and make sure we encourage them to be better?”
Black Tutors of Social Media is live on social media and there is a link to an application for entities to apply for consideration. Veal hopes that soon, it will become a thriving network of educators teaching students around the world who share his drive and passion for education.
“INC Education was already trusted, at this point to spearhead this was something that needed to be done. Families nationwide can really feel at home, not just for minorities,” Veal added. “Anyone can come and get services. It happens to be that where we’re at now with the pandemic we had to create something for and by people of color, but everyone can benefit from it.”
Local Leaders by Local Profile is an ongoing video series featuring incredible local leaders sharing their best leadership insights. Going beyond business, Local Leaders aims to inspire and motivate you to become the best version of yourself. It broadcasts LIVE via the Local Profile Facebook page (click here.)