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Meet Alessandra Desiderio of CREW Childcare Rewards App in Highlands Ranch

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alessandra Desiderio.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Alessandra. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I left domestic violence in 2009 and fled across the country. My car broke down in Colorado – so I stayed and climbed my way out of poverty. There’s a gap between public assistance and self-sufficiency, and when someone falls into it due to a pay increase, it’s called “the cliff effect.” I experienced this gap first hand and had to choose between childcare assistance or moving forward with a $1.50 per hour raise. I took the raise and hid my kids under my desk for nine months until I could afford/finagle the system to get childcare. This circumstance is burned on my soul – I can’t escape this calling to make childcare more affordable. Over the last eight years, I’ve sat on boards, I’ve worked with care providers and in the industry, I’ve been a lobbyist, and started two different tech solutions to the problem. Now my app has traction and I’d like to share about it.

I have two kids – now aged 15 and 12. I work as a consultant and I was recruited during my pitch for my previous childcare app’s pitch to be a member of Colorado Lending Source. I designed my own role and department there and launched the Development efforts, which have resulted in multi-million dollar fundraising efforts and the launch of new, underserved small business microloan funds.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, definitely not smooth. I’ve experienced pretty terrible things, from being homeless at 15 to losing my daughter at 18, to domestic violence, homelessness again and climbing through poverty. I know what it’s like to be raped, left for dead, and just not cared about. I think that’s part of why I feel called to make a difference for people struggling, especially parents who want access to work.

Please tell us about CREW Childcare Rewards App.
CREW Childcare Rewards app works by sharing revenues with users and lowering the cost of care. We encourage parents to share information about local childcare options in their area, then we draw a map of where those providers are listed online and how many times they’re checked into. Parents are paid for the information they share and are able to use the money they earn for childcare services in our marketplace.

We don’t take money per hour away from providers to lower the cost of care. Instead, we incentivize them to use our app to house all of their care network profile links and offer them the opportunity to shop for low-cost field trip vouchers in our marketplace. All users can also transfer their funds to Paypal or Venmo accounts. If you’re an employer who needs childcare solutions for your workplace, our app can provide a distribution channel of childcare credits to employees, supporting parent workers. Another way to participate as a business is to be a field trip or classroom resource partner.

We also work with our competitors by offering a platform to connect them to the right businesses and parents, and we provide select opportunities for in-app advertisements to our broad parent and provider user base. Colorado Lending Source’s mission is to foster the economic growth of diverse small businesses in our communities. The Colorado Main Street loan program is a character-based financing option available to small businesses who are unable to secure a conventional loan to start or grow their business. Loans range from $5,000 to $50,000 and can be used for a variety of business purposes. We are now launching this program on a national scale under the Character-Based Loan Fund.

My role as Development Officer supports the creation of new relationships for the organization that impact our borrowers and creates new opportunities for them. In addition, I find funding for the Main Street Loan Program in the form of program-related investments (loans) or grants and resource partnerships that support entrepreneurial education and pathways to success for our borrower businesses. My direct impact with Colorado Lending Source as a member of their team has been a nearly 7x growth rate of the Main Street Loan Program, the implementation of Development as an organizational department, and significant contribution in the way of fundraising structures.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I’m not sure I would have done anything differently, as I may not have ended up where I am if I had.

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