ALL FOR YOUTH—Eugene Goodwine of the North Side Youth Athletic Association and Alichia R. Parker, founder of A PAR Educational LLC and entrepreneur, kick off their collaborative, The North Side Pulse Association, with former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Logan serving as honorary chair. (Photos by Diane I. Daniels)
Since the age of three Alichia R. Parker knew she wanted to be an educator. Throughout her life she has diligently worked to make that happen.
The Langley High School graduate has attended Community College of Allegheny County, Point Park University and recently received her Master’s degree in Education from the University of Pittsburgh in Instruction and Learning. In 2007 at the age of 24 she founded A PAR Educational LLC as a way to enhance the learning ability of children. A PAR’s areas of service included, private tutoring, consulting and training, technical assistance and evaluation. Conducting her services from the homes of her clients, her goal then was to have a physical site to operate from, to create more learning tools and to continue to provide quality services.
Six years later, Parker has accomplished that set of goals. The physical site is located at 3556 Shadeland Avenue on the North Side and called Malaika Learning Center. The Center provides educational programming for children in preschool to twelfth grade as well as direct training programming for adults through its early learning academy, youth programming and training and development center.
Operated by she and her partner Denise Barron, the mission of the Center is to inspire and promote education throughout the world. Only a couple months shy of two years of operation, Parker says they are pleased with the progress of the Center. Serving children from the North Side and West End, they are filled at their capacity of 30 and operating a summer camp which is also at capacity.
As the President and CEO of A PAR Educational LLC, Parker is considered a consummate entrepreneur by her peers. The organization is the umbrella organization to several entrepreneurial ventures.
An off shoot of Malaika Learning Center, she is utilizing her Pennsylvania Quality Assurance Systems certification to operate a Training and Development Center. As a result she has become a highly sought after professional development trainer, facilitating seminars throughout Western Pennsylvania. Locally she has collaborated with organizations such as The Neighborhood Learning Alliance, The Hill House Association, Schenley Heights Development Corporation, Centre Avenue YMCA, South Hills Interfaith Ministries, St. Paul AME Church, Manchester Youth Development Corporation, YWCA, Pittsburgh Project, and the Providence Family Support Center. “I am focusing on organizations that work with children,” explained Parker pointing out that all her trainings is customized.
“I am excited about the Training and Development Center, I feel I have grown throughout the years while working to accomplish my goals,” said Parker. “It is a blessing. This is the third year I have been approached by the Manchester Youth Development Center. When you get to meet people like Mrs. Robinson, the creator of the MYDC, I consider it an honor to do what I do.”
Not limiting herself to this region, Parker is starting to garner national attention. Her workshop, “Setting the Mood—The right learning environment makes the difference,” was accepted for two Early Education conferences, the International Learning Styles National Conference in New York State and the Area Association for Education of Young Children Early Childhood Conference in York, PA.
Two other businesses Parker operates that fall under the umbrella of A PAR are A PAR Quality Services and her newest venture, A PAR Quality Travel Services.
With a staff of 4, A PAR Quality Services, Parker describes as a commercial cleaning business. “We have seven accounts currently, but are working toward meeting our goal of 10.” Existing for three years, Parker said she started the business as a way to assist her brother to gain employment after being incarcerated for 15 years.
Feeding her creative appetite and as a way to help her customers save time and money, Parker says A PAR Quality Travel Services is a fun business that allows her to use her administrative skills. “I take care of the total package from beginning to end. It does not matter the need, travel arrangements, hotel, car, finding entertainment to booking cruises,” she explained.
Not just focusing on profit making entities, Parker also shares her time and expertise with neighborhood ventures. During the beginning of the summer she became co-founder and Executive Director of the North Side Pulse Association, a non-profit organization whose mission centers on helping at-risk youth. She and Eugene Goodwine, of the North Side Youth Athletic Association established the organization in an effort to combine academics and athletics.
“Currently we are working on a strategic plan and are in the fundraising stages,” Parker pointed out. “While planning what direction to go in, our goal is to become sustainable and profitable.”
Former Pittsburgh Steeler and current high school football coach, Mike Logan, serving as honorary chair of the group says the North Side Pulse Association is on the right track. “Teaching kids about life and mentoring and tutoring programs are very important. Kids have to be more than just athletes. They have to know that a 1.5 or lower GPA does not get you through life. That education is key.”
Always in the thinking mode and focused on helping others, what she considers her purpose in like, Parker says she does what she does because it is what she loves to do. Her desire is to ignite, inspire and develop people.
Raised by a single mother, Parker says she was taught perseverance. “My mother taught me that everything that I set my eyes on is achievable. Nothing is out of reach. That greatness is achievable.” Reaching the goals she had set for herself by stepping out on faith and outside the box, Parker now at age 31is setting new goals. “I want to open another Malaika Learning Center, to do some motivational speaking and to continue training and development.” By year end she has hopes to publish her first children’s book, “Auntie and Me.” A heart-felt story about the relationship she has with her nephew.
Cautious that she is serving as a role model, Parker has hopes to assist young African-Americans and women in cultivating their own business and becoming successful entrepreneurs. “When talking with young people I advise them to not to be afraid to make a mistake. To remember that life is about mistakes, trails and error. That it is about knowing who you are.”
Living what she preaches, and trying to show by example Parker says, “I am thankful and blessed. I am doing what I want to do every day, serving people. I am living my best life.”
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