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Client Success Story:
Kate Hoffman

Earn to Learn enlists students as investors in their own education by empowering them with financial literacy to ensure they can navigate their personal financial responsibility and improve their economic mobility. 

Earn to Learn started on Kate’s dining room table in 2013 and has grown to approximately 25 full-time employees, 40 near-peer advisors, four BELAY contractors, and a potential to spread across 25 states with a current budget of 4.5 million. 

Their mission is empowering students to achieve their goals and be workforce ready with little to no student debt.

The Challenge

“I jokingly say that we were building the plane as we were flying it in the sense that this has had explosive growth,” Kate says. 

That’s when BELAY VA Carrie Leake came onto the scene.


“[While I was] trying to manage explosive growth and a growing team, Carrie brought her skillset to the table to help create systems and processes to keep everybody rowing in the same direction.”


“She brought to the table the level of organization we really need to take this to another level, and she came out of the gate demonstrating the significance of that.”

The Solution

“I gave my Client Success Consultant a lengthy list of all of the things I could imagine an individual in this role could help me with,” Kate says. “When Carrie first started, one of the things we did was she provided me with her availability so it was clear on my calendar when she had availability which was helpful.”

“We also were meeting quite regularly in the beginning because I was sharing information with her about everything that was happening and in the works.”

“Currently, we do work sessions where we have dedicated meeting time where she and I get together and I’m downloading with her, and those have proven helpful.”

Carrie helps Kate specifically with behind-the-scenes functionality, and maximizes opportunities by organizing and mapping out the philanthropic endeavors of Earn to Learn.

“There are a number of people involved in development and many of us work remotely,” Kate says. “Getting all of us on the same page in terms of who’s responsible for what is mission-critical.”

“Having somebody that owns that for us is a relief because I know — since Carrie is very detailed and organized — things are not going to slip through the cracks. If that doesn’t underscore my level of trust in her ability, I don’t know what [could].”

Technology and figuring out systems are not strong suits for Kate. Luckily for her, it is for Carrie.

“She recognized quickly where she could really bring value,” Kate says. “That says a lot about her as a person.”

The Earn to Learn partnership with BELAY did not end with Carrie as she proved to be the catalyst for more rock star contractor opportunities.


“We had such great success with Carrie that we started to recognize there could be other ways we could work with BELAY."


And so they did.

Earn to Learn brought on BELAY contractors Emily Swieca as a Virtual Assistant, focusing almost exclusively on scheduling for Kate, Lindsey Ellis, a Virtual Assistant for Earn to Learn’s COO Leslie Shultz-Crist, and Mary Scott, a Website Specialist.

“All four of those people have brought something to our organization that we’re grateful for,” Kate says. “That has been helpful in expanding our capacity to do this important work.”


Meet the Specialist



Virtual Assistant