For founder Alyssa Bertelsen, Rise Up School of Dance is so much more than a business.
“Rise Up started just out of my own story growing up; I wasn’t able to afford ballet classes and was given a scholarship,” Bertelsen said. “That totally changed my life because I could pursue ballet, and it really grew me as a person and I just loved it.”
And so, Rise Up was born — a nonprofit working to ensure finances never keep a child from dancing and prove that a “human first, dancer second” mentality still produces talented dancers. However, after a few years of running the school, Bertelsen found that her business model was not sustainable. With no background in business, Bertelsen sought support in the Master of Business Creation (MBC) program at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business. She wasn’t just one of the first graduates from the program — she was more equipped to run her business, and Rise Up has thrived since then.
“I have changed and grown immensely through the program and their continued support and guidance, and I think I’ve also grown a lot in my confidence,” Bertelsen said. “This past year coming out of the program has been such a different experience because I’m prepared to advocate for myself and to tackle some things that I just felt pretty nervous about even trying before the program.”
Rise Up was a bit different than the rest of the founders in her MBC cohort — she was the only non-profit organization. Rise Up runs on a school lunch model, meaning that if students qualify for free and reduced lunch, their tuition fees are automatically waived.
“We just want to see kids thrive,” Bertelsen said.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2022 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.