Debra Greenfield, born in Lodi, California and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has always considered education to be a prominent part of her life. A graduate of West Los Angeles School of Paralegal Studies and then a student of West Los Angeles School of Law, Debra’s initial career path led her to become an experienced legal professional in the Los Angeles area. This all changed when Debra’s children were born and she began to become engaged with Southern California’s educational system. It was raising a family that really made her take notice of the education that her children were potentially going to receive.
Debra saw many of the problems that faced the Los Angeles County school system and knew that she had to take an active role, for the sake of her children and all the other affected youth in her community. After becoming involved with the board of education, Debra decided to take a more direct approach to helping the youth in her area and founded ABC Learn, Inc.
Established on September 19, 1996, ABC Learn was founded by Debra Greenfield and her husband Norman Greenfield. A 501(c)(3) non‐profit education corporation, ABC Learn first started out as a tutoring service for under-privileged youth in the San Fernando Valley. Throughout the late 1990s and 2000s ABC Learn has grown into an influential organization that has fully integrated itself into the educational fabric of this community. ABC Learn has come a long way from its beginnings in Greenfield’s Canoga Park home and now resides in a building with six classrooms, several offices, a full kitchen and large graduation hall. Not only has ABC Learn’s place of business seen a serious upgrade, the scale that it operates at is constantly growing. Offering classes in a wide variety of areas, ranging from Life Skills to Construction to more traditional classes like English and Math, in addition to the tutoring services it was built on, ABC Learn provides an educational opportunity to the youth of Los Angeles County. With up to fifteen employees at one time, all of whom are dedicated to making a positive impact on the over 150 students that they help educate, ABC continues to make a huge impact with 30 students from the San Fernando Valley YouthBuild (Home of the Phoenix Rising) not only graduating but going on to college, career pathway or started businesses of their own. Debra has helped grow ABC Learn into one of the foremost educational institutions in the San Fernando Valley, all by taking a hands–‐on approach to all aspects of a student’s life.
ABC Learn even with all of its growth and success, like many other businesses, has faced some financial hardships. Due to changing laws regarding the funding of educational programs in combination with the economic downturn in recent years, Debra found herself needing additional capital to keep ABC Learn operational. Having never considered where to go to receive additional financing for ABC Learn, Debra was left looking for answers. She did not know if being an educational Non-Profit would hurt chances of securing a business loan or if she would even qualify for one. “I did not want to take more money than I needed and be accountable to a large bank,” said Debra. Thankfully for ABC Learn and the students it impacts on a daily basis, Debra found the perfect place to help keep the business she loved afloat. In less than a month, Debra Greenfield secured a microloan for $20,000 with the Valley Economic Development Center, which she described as “a hugely positive experience”. To Debra, “the Valley Economic Development Center was so accommodating that they were “more like an uncle, than a business you have to deal with.” For ABC Learn, the microloan helped her keep staff on board and was essential in keeping the organization on track.
Debra always says, “Don’t ever be afraid to accept the hand of someone who is offering it to you.” Whether it’s getting tutored for science homework or receiving a microloan for financial support, a helpful hand can go a long way.