Meet The Brand

Meet Celebrate EDU

This holiday season, in addition to amplifying thousands of small businesses, goodbuy is excited to reflect upon the generosity and contributions of three incredible impact partners doing good in the world. 

Today, as we celebrate Giving Tuesday, we’re excited to highlight the work of Celebrate EDU, a nonprofit organization empowering folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities through online business and entrepreneurship education. Here, you can read our conversation with Celebrate EDU Co-Founder, Jenny Anderson, shop her collection of gifts made by owners with disabilities (and graduates of Celebrate EDU!), and consider pairing a donation to Celebrate EDU with your gift(s) this holiday season for continued, lasting impact! 

Jenny Anderson, Founder of Celebrate EDU

gb: Jenny, thanks so much for taking the time to share more about the impactful mission and contributions of Celebate EDU. To kick things off, can you introduce yourself and share what inspired you to start Celebrate EDU? 

Thanks so much for talking with me! I’m the Co-Founder of Celebrate EDU, a nonprofit that teaches entrepreneurship to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. My brother Brent is on the autism spectrum and he’s the reason why I started Celebrate EDU. After Brent graduated from high school, he struggled to find a job in the community. After years of frustration, he worked with our mom to start his own business. Since that time, he’s been happier and more fulfilled than ever before! I created Celebrate EDU so that more folk with disabilities would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams through the path of entrepreneurship.

gb: What a story! Thank you. Today, the vision for Celebrate EDU is “that every person, regardless of ability or disability, should have the chance to build a meaningful life.” Can you share more about the mission and values of Celebrate EDU and how they offer opportunities for individuals to build a life of meaning? 

Right now, 81% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed in the U.S. Most of them have never been asked, “what do you want to do?” instead, they’re expected to fit into whatever limited opportunities are available. While some enjoy these options, many do not.

Celebrate EDU provides entrepreneurship education so that individuals with disabilities have the chance to explore their own interests and strengths, and choose a career or job that works best for them.

Through Celebrate EDU classes, students are empowered to become self-advocates who make decisions and set goals for their future. For some, this means starting a business, and for others, this means finding a job that fits their interests and strengths. Ultimately, we’re here to provide the opportunity to choose a path that is uniquely best for each of our students.

Brent Anderson, Owner of Pets Pizzazz

gb: That’s amazing! You mentioned the classes that Celebrate EDU offers. I’m curious if you could give us a peek behind the scenes of some of these courses and the skills that students learn and/or develop through these classes? 

Celebrate EDU works with folks at all stages of their journey. Many of our students are learning about business for the first time, so we have a variety of introductory classes. We also provide classes and coaching for those ready to start their own entrepreneurial venture. For these students, a few of these courses include: customer identification, competitors & competitive advantage, pricing & revenue, and more. These students also learn to create their very own business model canvas and write an elevator pitch! In recent years, we’ve also built new opportunities to help our established entrepreneurs grow their businesses through classes in branding, social media, and website development. Whether students are just starting our, or launching their own small business, Celebrate EDU students are more knowledgeable, empowered, and prepared for whatever their future holds.

gb: Wow! You’re doing it all. In addition to these course offerings, Celebrate EDU also offers microgrants. Can you share more about the barriers that folks with disabilities may face when starting and/or operating their own business and how your microgrants help address these challenges? 

There are a lot of barriers that entrepreneurs with disabilities face when getting started. Access to funding, accessible resources, and community support are three of the big ones. Through our Microgrant program, we’re able to provide $500 and business coaching to help students launch new businesses. Even with their support, entrepreneurs with disabilities must deal with the skepticism that discourages them from pursuing this path. I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, “people with disabilities can’t start their own businesses.” It’s a bias that continues to permeate our society and something we, at Celebrate EDU, are working really hard to change.

Celebrate EDU

gb: For those who are also adamant and committed to supporting this change in our societal biases, behaviors, and systems— what are a few ways to support the ongoing work of Celebrate EDU and advocate with (and for) individuals with disabilities?  

Well, one of the easiest ways you can support people with disabilities is to shop with disability-owned businesses! Fortunately, goodbuy makes it easy to do that! I also encourage people to consistently include disability in their definition of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is an often overlooked community and people with disabilities are not represented in many spaces. Please invite people with disabilities to participate in your events, conferences, and conversations!

gb: That’s such an important reminder, thank you. Speaking of ongoing work, Celebrate EDU recently celebrated your 9th birthday. Congratulations! Can you tell us more about what some of the most rewarding moments have been, and what you’re most excited about moving forward? 

Wild, right!? I can’t believe it’s been 9 years. My most rewarding moments are always watching our students turn their ideas into realities. I love seeing JT’s joy when he’s selling his candles and interacting with customers, or hearing from Hannah that she made $500 at her first tie-dye pop-up. It’s truly awesome to see them thriving. As our students’ businesses grow, I’m also really excited about the next chapter for Celebrate EDU! We’re launching the Celebrate Shop this holiday season to help our students reach more customers and sell online. It’s not only an online store, but also includes classes for our students in order fulfillment, shipping, and packaging. Next year, we’re also planning to build out wholesale channels and more pop-up shops to support our students’ businesses so I’m getting excited for that as well.

Celebrate EDU

gb: Wow. So much goodness already created, and so much more goodness yet to come! We’re curious, as you reflect on the work and contributions of Celebrate EDU, what would you say is your wish for the world? What do you want others to remember after reading more about Celebrate EDU?  

I want folks everywhere to see my brother and every other person with an intellectual or developmental disability as capable, kind, and caring human beings. I also want others to recognize the strengths and talents of this community and to engage with folks with disabilities in their own communities. Ultimately, my wish is for people to truly practice acceptance and inclusivity, and support small businesses owned and operated by folks with disabilities.

gb: Count us in! Thank you for sharing that important aspiration for our world (and working everyday to actualize that wish in the world). Speaking of small businesses, we have to ask: apart from your brother’s small business, Brent’s Pets Pizzazz, what are a few of your favorite small businesses founded by individual(s) w/disability(ies) and what do you love most about them? 

There are so many, how can I choose!? Top of mind is Candidly Kind, founded by Grace Key who also serves on the Celebrate EDU Board of Directors. Grace is an awesome entrepreneur with Down Syndrome who started her businesses to spread kindness after she experienced bullying. She’s also one of my favorite humans to follow on Instagram and TikTok because her content is so fun! I also love Rocky Mountain Video Services, which was started by one of our students, Van. He takes your old home movies and makes them digital! I love that he’s turning his love for movies into a really useful and beneficial service for others. There are a few other favorites featured on The Celebrate Shop, but honestly, every entrepreneur with a disability is breaking barriers so I’m truthfully inspired by them all!

👉 PS. Check out more of Jenny’s picks in goodbuy’s holiday catalog! 

gb: Love! Thanks for sharing a few of your small biz recommendations with us! Thank you again for taking the time to speak with us and share more about Celebratue EDU. Before we go, is there anything else you’d like for us to know? 

You can support entrepreneurs with disabilities by making a tax-deductible donation to Celebrate EDU today (or any time!) If you’re feeling generous, you can even consider pairing a donation to Celebrate EDU with an awesome product made by a Celebrate EDU student! 

Shop Jenny’s collection here and don’t forget you can shop and support owners w/disability(ies) all-year on goodbuy!


the goodbuy team