We had the good fortune of connecting with Lloyd Hopkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lloyd, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
In the work of improving schools there isn’t enough being doing for our educators. The social entrepreneur in me realized that there was an opportunity to engage the community in a unique way around elevating what it means to be a teacher in our society. So, I combined my passion for creating a more equitable education system with my admiration for teachers and the Million Dollar Teacher Project was born. Our emphasis is to make every teacher feel like a million dollars so they can do the same for our children.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Million Dollar Teacher Project is a teacher retention and recruitment organization in Arizona. Our work revolves around supporting students by supporting teachers. To achieve this we partner with Title I Schools that serve marginalized communities and assist them with creating community-centered programming to help them increase how their teachers are recognized, drive more support directly into classrooms and create innovative ways to impact how their teachers are compensated.
We are most proud of the thousands of teachers we have been able to impact since our launch in 2016 and how that has made a difference in the classroom for thousands of students. We are also of the support we have been able to garner from companies like Microsoft and the Arizona Department of Education over the years.
It was not easy to get to where we are today and we still got much further to go. I started this organization with just a dream of supporting schools in this manner and I’ve managed to turn that dream into a full functioning non-profit, with staff, partners and collaborators. My commitment to the end goal is what helped me overcome every challenge. Every time I heard the word “no” it motivated me to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to turn it into a yes. I’ve learned that is the key ingredient to entrepreneurship. A relentless commitment to your vision and the flexibility to receive new information taht will help you achieve it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My itinerary would start with breakfast at Brunch & Sip in Phoenix. Then we would hit The Gladly for their famous Chop Solid, for lunch. After hitting the arts district and Roosevelt Row for some culture, I would then take them to the Purple Turtle in Maryvale to eat the best buffalo wings in the city! We would round the night out at the Spire Bar at Arizona Biltmore for good drinks and atmosphere!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I first want to dedicate my shoutout to my wife, Kashuna Hopkins. Without her love and support I wouldn’t be able to do any of the work I’m doing today. She has been my partner in everything and I owe her everything!j
Next I want to give credit to written pieces that really motivated my journey. The first is the book Do You by Russell Simmons. After reading this book I started to practice singular focus, which is the principal of focusing on a goal relentlessly and not stopping until you reach your destination. The second is the Fast Company article I read on Richard Branson, summer 2014 or 15. In that article he mentioned he started all of his businesses from discontent as a customer. That led me to ask myself what am I the most discontent about? The answer was our education system. Those two things gave me a wonderful perspective that still motivates me today.