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Changing Lives, One at a Time
Stefan Hochfilzer, California-Berkeley, graduated in 2003 with a degree in business. He worked as a risk consultant in Los Angeles and had started a real estate certificate program when he realized his heart just wasn’t in it. “My passion has always been working with kids,” said Hochfilzer. He was drawn to kids from an early age.“I was a tennis player growing up and I started teaching tennis when I was 14,”he said. At 18, he launched Inspired Learning Institute, LLC,“a basic company that matched sports instructors with kids,”he explained. The difference from just any sports lesson was in the company’s approach and philosophy. “Kids saw the instructors not only as a coach but as a mentor and friend,” said Hochfilzer. The experience had a big impact on his life, mainly because of feedback from parents about the positive changes they noticed in their children. What stood out to Hochfilzer was the significant role a mentor could play.
He continued the company during his first year at Berkeley but had to give it up, as focusing on class work and school activities, including Delta Sigma Pi, took up more and more of his time and energy. When Brother Hochfilzer felt dissatisfied with post college life, the positive experiences and lessons learned from that first business venture inspired him to launch another. It helped that his parents were behind him. “They always supported the idea of doing something you are passionate about and I always went to them for advice,”he said. He also was buoyed by lessons learned from Delta Sigma Pi.“My involvement in the Fraternity had a huge impact on me,”said Brother Hochfilzer.“Mostly it helped develop my professional side and gave me many opportunities to mature and build confidence in areas of weakness, such as leadership and speaking skills.”
Expanding on the mentorship philosophy, Hochfilzer noticed a huge need and lack of resources for parents whose children were falling behind academically or socially.“Every classroom has those children that have a harder time paying attention, have a learning disability like ADHD, or have behavioral or emotional challenges,”he said.“These are the kids who typically end up falling behind and getting negative feedback from their teachers, and then deal with frustrated parents, which in turn lowers their confidence and can lead to other challenges.” With further research, Hochfilzer noticed that many of these struggling children might work with a professional therapist or psychiatrist, but there was a gap between what they concentrated on during therapy and what happened at home. His answer was to create a for-profit company in 2004, ClubXcite, designed to fill the gap by providing each student with a mentor to work with them one-on-one on specific challenges, many times, in conjunction with the other professionals involved in their lives. He was joined in starting the company by a friend from Kansas who also had a recent business degree, Matt Carey.
“Our concept works because our mentors are college- aged‘cool’women or men who are working on an education or psychology degree but also have had practical experiences with kids as tutors or sports coaches,” said Hochfilzer. Parents come to ClubXcite with specific needs and the company matches mentors based on those needs, providing a customized program and achievement plan to reach established goals. Parents pay $30-40 an hour for the one- on-one mentoring services. Mentors are paid. The mentors go through a strict series of interviews and extensive background checks. “We tend to attract people who are ethical, fun, spontaneous, athletic, charismatic, and reliable,” said Hochfilzer. Most also have eclectic hobbies or interests that can be incorporated into the mentorship. “If a child wants to learn an instrument or a certain sport, for instance, we can pair him or her with a mentor who has expertise in that area,”he added.
ClubXcite has expanded to offer weekly small group social opportunities.“We noticed that the kids we work with have a harder time making friends or being successful in social situations,”said Hochfilzer,“so we developed opportunities for these kids to meet others in a coached but natural environment.” Cost for the three-hour group outings are $65-75. Memberships are available that provide discounts on services. Recently, ClubXcite entered into contracts with various private schools in San Diego and Orange County to offer enrichment programs.“This has really taken our program to a new level, because schools see the value in our concept and philosophy,”said Hochfilzer.“We offer a variety of programs such as robotics and building, ultimate sports, drama and improvisation, and martial arts. We stick with a four to one ratio and offer personalized attention to all kids.”
The company also launched an additional venture, Xcite Steps, because parents requested help with kids facing challenges like autism. Hochfilzer and a mentor he knew with a background in this field, Matthew Winkley, started Xcite Steps to focus directly on serving these kids. “Xcite Steps offers many of the same services, just with more experienced mentors in this field and a higher focus on social skills groups and opportunities,”said Hochfilzer. Xcite Steps is also set up to help teens and adults. Hochfilzer and his partners, including fellow Berkeley graduate John Foletta, head up a full-time management team of five and 45 paid mentors. The company has served more than 700 children in Southern California, and more than 400 through a contract with San Diego Youth and Community Services, a non-profit, to help at risk and low income children. Hochfilzer hopes to set up a foundation to raise money for similar services.“Between both companies we exceeded $500,000 in revenues in 2009, which is a lot if you take into consideration that we are a service business and have only been around for five years.” Part of the success is from Hochfilzer’s focus on truly changing the lives of the children served, one at a time. He’s also grateful for Delta Sigma Pi’s impact,“I truly feel that I owe a great deal of my success to Delta Sigma Pi and all the support I had from my brothers.
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- NEWS RELEASE: ( November 26, 2010 ) Mentorship comes full circle for San Diego Pair Author: ClubXcite
- NEWS RELEASE: ( November 26, 2010 ) Students ‘Xcited’ to work with mentors Author: ClubXcite
- NEWS RELEASE: ( November 26, 2010 ) Changing Lives, One at a Time Author: ClubXcite
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