His software weaves a web of support

Melvin Hines Jr. is an entrepreneur on a mission. As a teen in Albany, Georgia, Hines was disturbed by the high dropout rate among his high school classmates. That unease persisted when he went to college and saw scores of his fellow students hampered by economic and social inequities. It took a while, but Hines did something to address his concerns. Once he earned three degrees of his own, Hines and a partner founded a Texas-based educational software firm called Upswing. Today, Upswing’s online products are helping more than 80 colleges and universities boost students’ success by connecting them to peer tutoring, intensive advising, and other services.


His tablets break down prison walls

Brian Hill’s social conscience was formed early, while he grew up in a large California family devoted to serving others. Hill’s father, a community college psychology instructor, also taught classes to inmates in Folsom State Prison, and he used that experience to foster empathy among young Brian and his five siblings. Decades later, Brian Hill has combined that empathetic urge with an entrepreneurial spirit to build Edovo, a thriving educational software company designed to give incarcerated men and women a leg up on a better future. In just a few years, Chicago-based Edovo has grown into an 85-employee firm that makes more than 25,000 tablet computers available in correctional facilities.


Her lessons empower home health aides

Entrepreneur Helen Adeosun is a scholar and a striver, but she’s spent plenty of time in the trenches. Along with degrees from Notre Dame and Harvard, Adeosun boasts a wealth of work experience—as a babysitter, a nanny, a teacher, a social worker, and a home-health aide. All of that learning served her well as the co-founder and CEO of CareAcademy, a Massachusetts-based firm that produces instructional modules that home caregivers use on mobile phones or tablet computers. Adeosun, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, launched CareAcademy in 2013. It now has more than 200 home-health companies as clients.


There are at least two ways to look at everything, including innovation. One way—let’s call it the radical approach—was aptly expressed by Charles F. Kettering, the early 20th century engineer who invented the first electric cash register and later co-founded Delco. Kettering said this:“If you’ve always done it that way, it’s probably wrong.”


The stories in this issue of Focus were reported and written by Bob Caylor, a journalist with more than 30 years of experience at newspapers in Minnesota, Ohio, and Indiana. At the News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he was an award-winning columnist and editorial writer and reported extensively on business and environmental issues. He is now a writer and photographer for Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana, as well as a freelance journalist and book editor. He also is ghostwriting a book on investing.

Editing | David S. Powell
Editorial assistance | Ruth Holladay
Photography | Shawn Spence Photography
Design & development | IronGate Creative
Multimedia production | Matthew Jenkins
Video production | Angela Cain and Michael Jensen

Focus Archive


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Adult students
Black male student success
Community partnerships
Competency-based education
Comprehensive student records
Earth-friendly careers
Economical instruction
Employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement
Learning assessment
Native American students
Non-degree credentials
Prison education
Quality assurance
Rural students
Short-term credentials
Struggles of Today's Student
Student supports
Student veterans
Students with Development Disabilities
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