Alyse Maslonik had a very unfortunate childhood, which eventually persuaded her to do something for less fortunate children. Her childhood days were a mess, as Maslonik only experienced poverty, financial problems, and abuse by her stepfather. Such challenging circumstances made her want to escape her surroundings and do something for underprivileged children. Later, Maslonik founded the RedefinED Advisors LLC, a strategic development partner for non-public and private schools that provide scholarships to hundreds of children in Pennsylvania to ensure good education for them.
Life was a little kind to her when Maslonik’s biological grandfather, who she knew through Facebook, offered her a place to stay and teach all she knew. So, at the age of 20 and with just $63 in her pocket and a dream, Maslonik testified against her stepfather in a criminal case of abuse and set off on a journey to change her life for the better. “I was completely broken and needed someone’s help. Though I had never seen my biological grandfather, I left home to be with him in Pennsylvania,” she told WomELLE in an exclusive interview.
A New Beginning in North Carolina
At the age of 23, Maslonik joined JP Morgan and managed a multi-million-dollar company in Charlotte, NC. She was perhaps the youngest sales and marketing representative of NVR Inc., where she helped people realize their American dream of owning their homes. Maslonik spent several years in the corporate world, where she constantly fought for gender equity and justice. She worked on various ideas enabling and raising funds for different companies to succeed. However, others took credit for her ideas and hard work. “This made me think, why can’t I do something on my own that would usher a change in the system,” she said.
This thought and her urge to do something different led her to quit corporate America. Being a recipient of the need-based scholarship, Maslonik realized how education helped her end the generational cycle of poverty and abuse. Alyse Maslonik says that she had no option; it was a case of either making it or breaking it. She had already made a name for herself and had a client base in the community. Now she wanted to create a more significant impact for students like she was. It would be an excellent way to give back, she thought.
Birth of RedefinED Advisors
Alyse Maslonik firmly believed that she could help get rid of inequity in the system and assist in providing financial assistance and scholarships to students of non-public and private schools to enable children to get a proper education. “I wanted to do something I wish I would have received when I was a child,” said Maslonik. Today, RedefinED is working for the development of schools and the education of underprivileged students by raising funds, providing scholarships, and helping schools increase their budgets and get more students.
According to RedefinED, every year, over 45,000 students in Pennsylvania are awarded scholarships to attend a school of their choice through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) Program. With an additional $40 million in tax credits added to the EITC program in 2021, the program now offers $225 million in scholarship opportunities for students and schools across the state. While approximately 73% of students state-wide qualify for EITC funds, only 3% of students receive those funds, and the majority of rural students are shut out of those opportunities. “Today, I am working harder to ensure that all students get the opportunity to study in the schools of their choice,” Maslonik told WomELLE.
Source of Funds
So, where do RedefinED get the funds for scholarships from? Alyse Maslonik said, “There are provisions in the ITR for individuals and companies who contribute to the society in the state they do business and live in to get tax credits. We make them aware of this provision and urge them to contribute to developing the schools in Pennsylvania and help us provide scholarships to the students.” RedefinED also helps individuals and businesses by making the process easier for them. The schools hire RedefinED to help enhance their budget, and, on their part, Maslonik and her team charge a flat fee that sustains them.
When asked about the obstacles she faced in her journey, Maslonik says her journey has been one of peaks and valleys. According to her, every woman, especially working mothers, faces setbacks while starting their ventures. “My biggest setback was myself, my negative thoughts, whether I would succeed or not. However, my real problem in the initial days was how I would pay my team members. I am fortunate that I have an incredible team, and they have helped me overcome all my problems.”
Initially, Maslonik was very angry with her mother about her childhood experiences. She blamed her for so many things. But later, she realized what a great woman her mother was. She was suffering abuse from her husband along with her four children and a minimum wage, but she was determined and made it. She went to college after the age of 40, and she admires her today. “Another person who impacted my life was my grandmother – she was the ceasefire in the war in my life. She loved me a lot, and when I felt unworthy, she always made me feel worthy,” Maslonik recalls.
“I come from a long line of women who have always made it,” she says with determination.
Alyse Maslonik Believes in Hard Work Pays Off
Talking about her hard work during the initial days, Alyse Maslonik says there are so many children like her, and she wants to change their lives. Her work is important for the legacy and the change she would like to bring. “Given a chance, I would have started sooner,” she says, adding, “I was not lucky, but I worked hard. I got opportunities, recognized them, and am where I am today. I don’t believe in luck but in hard work. I work relentlessly.”
About her team, she says she is blessed to have a great team that believes in her mission. They help her where she is weak or lacking something – for instance, she is not good at details, and they help her out with it.”
Maslonik’s ultimate goal is to make it possible to provide as many students as possible with the ‘Triumph Over Tragedy’ scholarship launched by RedefinED. “It will give me the maximum pleasure to see all students in Pennsylvania get the opportunity to be educated and end the inequity,” she says.
Alyse Maslonik’s Message to New Women Entrepreneurs
When asked what her message is to women entrepreneurs who are just starting, Maslonik said that new entrepreneurs should surround themselves with good and honest people to be successful. Besides, they should believe in themselves, as women possess incredible qualities and can bring extraordinary value to their workplace. “I always tell women that ‘your time and place is here now to speak out. You deserve to be on every single table where decisions are being made,” Maslonik signs off.
Leave a Reply