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This East Baltimore native wants to inspire the city’s next generation of leaders

Karlo Young, the new president of Concentric Educational Solutions, believes good ideas can come from anywhere in a company — and he’s working to build that village.

Karlo Young. (Courtesy)

Folks may know East Baltimore for its sprawling Johns Hopkins Hospital campus, Northeast Market or from Baltimore Club legend Miss Tony’s song asking how the East Side would “carry it.”

Karlo Young carries it proudly.

“I’m very proud of my East Baltimore roots. My parents were raised in East Baltimore,” said the new 45-year-old president for Concentric Educational Solutions, a Federal Hill-based edtech company that raised a $5 million Series A last year.

Having attended both public and private schools, Karlo Young said a diverse education is what has provided him with the valuable perspectives he uses in his leadership roles today.

Young explained that his company aims to combat chronic absenteeism in schools by leveraging data and technology to anticipate and tackle barriers to student engagement. Its work to fight school absenteeism across the nation, as well as difficulties faced through this work and the tremendous demand for the company’s services, was recently highlighted in a piece by The New Yorker and ProPublica.

Before his promotion, Young was responsible for overseeing Concentric Educational Solutions’ operations, finance and HR functions as its COO. That included managing relationships with the board and reporting — all responsibilities he said wouldn’t be possible without education and his village.

“I can speak from my own experience: I’ve had caring adults that looked out. There’s no way I end up in the place I am without the mentors and villages around me,” said Young, who pursued higher education at Drexel University in Philadelphia and Northwestern University in metro Chicago.

As a young person, he attended the public Roland Park Elementary Middle School before going to the private Gilman School. In his opinion, you don’t have to go out of state to go far. Sometimes, it’s as simple as getting out of the neighborhood to see something different.

“This whole notion of distance travel isn’t really important,” said Young.

Today, Young also serves as Gilman’s board of trustees’ vice president, as well as the president of the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust. He said both experiences continue to shape his commitment to being a leader and supporting education for others.

“I want other kids and people to know that they can do that too,” said Young.

His wife, Ngozi Olandu-Young, offers another model for success that young people can aspire to. She’s also a Baltimore native who boasts a successful career as a makeup artist in the entertainment industry. She has earned an NAACP Image Award and nominations for her work on projects such as “We Own This City” and “The Color Purple.” The duo are raising three children on top of their demanding careers.

“We’re blessed in many ways,” said Young.

What’s next for Concentric Educational Solutions?

“Access education has been kind of my thing,” said Young.

He said that in most school districts, students are missing out on about 18 to 20 days of school on average. It’s a crisis that Young said predated the pandemic and begs a question of Concentric Educational Solutions:: How do we help support those students?

According to Young, one of the company’s significant findings is the impact having a caring adult at school has on absenteeism. To address this challenge, especially for students in districts such as Baltimore City’s, the company intends to sustain its efforts in recruiting more professional student advocates (PSAs). PSAs are individuals who want to be positive role models to City Schools students. They build relationships with the pupils through small group tutoring and maintain relationships with school staff.

For Young, PSAs can contribute as much to the company as anybody in the C-suite.

“Some of the best ideas that I get in this company could be from the CFO, or they could be from a PSA or [another] frontline person,” said Young.

Going forward, the company is also interested in hiring a senior vice president to lead strategy and program operations, focusing on a multi-faceted approach that prioritizes care.

“So we’re building a village, right?” he said. So we want people to come in with a mindset of [wanting] to add to the village and hopefully get something out of it [too],” said Young.

Check out the roles open at Concentric Educational Solutions

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