The Stevie Awards Blog

Education Program Helps Struggling Students Turn the Page

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 @ 12:41 PM

Thanks to growing charter school and homeschooling movements in the U.S., parents have more options than ever when it comes to their children’s education. Selecting the right school for one’s child ‒ and helping them succeed in that environment ‒ has become more of a process than it was in the past.

Stevie Award-winning Founder / Director of New Heights Educational Group, Pamela Clark, experienced this first-hand when she was deciding where to enroll her young children. Clark home-schooled her children before finding the right charter school for them.

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At the local charter school, Clark took on leadership and mentoring roles. Despite her affinity for these independently-controlled schools, she noticed that certain students were falling behind. Those with learning and emotional difficulties, like autism and ADHD, had a particularly tough time getting through the curriculum.

What those students needed, she thought, was a place they could go for additional support. And so, in 2006, New Heights Educational Group was born.

Filling in the Educational Gaps

The organization became a single destination where families could get help deciding where to educate their children, improve their literacy skills and find a library of reading materials for dealing with challenges.

At its core, New Heights Educational Group is a one-on-one tutoring program that focuses in on areas where the student needs extra attention. Teachers and students are required to meet three hours a week over a three-day period.

“We found that fill-in-the-gap type tutoring is necessary in order to reach students that have been left behind in traditional settings,” Clark says.

This focused approach has yielded dramatic results, she notes. Several students who were on the verge of dropping out of high school before they received tutoring from NHEG have now graduated. One student who suffered from seizures at a young age was able to jump three grade levels in science and four grade levels in math in a little over a year.

Parents with children facing learning disabilities found an environment where they could explore new strategies and share their experiences with others.

“In addition to successful, child-focused learning techniques, families are able to cope with their children’s struggles better because of increased social support,” she says.

If anyone could empathize with someone struggling because of a lack of outside help, it was Clark. Neither her father nor her two brothers ever graduated from high school and her mom wasn’t always there to help with her studies. She had also faced numerous health ailments throughout her life, in large part from  being malnourished as a child.

Thanks to New Heights, she’s making sure other students don’t have to deal with those same hardships. The organization recently won the Silver Stevie in The American Business Awards for Organization of the Year in the Small Nonprofit or Government category, which was awarded during a June 20 gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York.

“This is such an honor,” Clark said afterward. “Every day our team of 81 volunteers work to promote our work in bettering education for all families, regardless of school choice, background or beliefs.”

Continuing to Grow

Eleven years after starting the venture, Clark continues to grow New Heights. It currently draws students from several states, thanks in part to its flourishing online solutions.

With help from Kathryn Stout, author of Natural Speller, the organization has created a free online version of the book for students learning to read and spell. Clark and her team also developed a free financial literacy course to help youths make wiser decisions with their money.

The journey into the digital realm has proven to be a fruitful one. New Heights garnered a second Silver Stevie this year in the New Product or Service of the Year category for its PK-12 Personalized Learning Solution.

In addition to helping students advance in school, Clark has also positioned the organization as a leading voice in educational strategies. On top of the monthly educational magazine it recently launched, New Heights started an Internet radio program that now boasts more than 24,000 listeners a year.

Clark and company published a book entitled One Nonprofit’s Journey to Success in 2015 and released a second, Unraveling Reading, late last year.

Even as she faces ongoing health issues, Clark continues to serve as the engine for the program. She oversees the dozens of volunteers who provide tutoring through New Heights, offers training to teachers and continually researches new strategies for helping students reach their potential.

“Educational changes are slow moving and very little improvements are ever made,” says Clark. “So the work that nonprofits do are very important and normally don't receive the attention they deserve.”

Tags: new product awards, new product of the year, best new product or service, education awards

Chargebacks911: Reducing Costs, Enriching Understanding, and Recovering Revenue

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Mon, Mar 27, 2017 @ 04:52 PM

Chargebacks911 won Gold and Silver Stevie Awards in The 2016 American Business Awards for Best Business-to-Business Product and New Product of the Year - Software Commerce Solution. 

The 2017 American Business Awards are accepting entries through April 7. Review the entry kit here. Learn more about New Product Awards.

We spoke with Gary Cardone, CEO of Chargebacks911 to learn more about the organization and what winning Stevie Awards has meant to their successes.

chargebacks banner.jpgIn a sentence or two, what does your organization do?

Chargebacks911 is dedicated to eliminating chargeback fraud (friendly fraud, family fraud, unauthorized claims and mis-coded disputes) for merchants, issuers, and acquirers. Last year, we safeguarded over 2.4 billion online transactions in 87 countries, working hand-in-hand with thousands of e-stores all over the world.  In a nutshell, we take the guess work out of chargebacks, which means reducing costs, enriching understanding, and recovering revenue. 

What is the vision behind your organization?

Our vision is simple: begin and end with a win-win scenario. When it comes to chargeback fraud, everyone is victimized: merchants pay fees and lose money to fake claims, banks devote expensive resources, and consumers end up paying higher prices and forfeiting friendly policies. 

We are passionate about identifying the true source of the problem and not just treating the symptoms.  Everything we do is backed by an ROI guarantee that is only possible due to our first-hand expertise and technology. Our vision has been built upon a mission to bring our understanding and workable results to enough merchants and banks that as an industry, we can overcome the growing chargeback problem. 

Ironically, this type of vision does not leave us without a business. Helping merchants achieve sustainability and growth is our primary goal, and understanding the best methods to use for managing chargebacks is a key component. There will always be disputes or issues to resolve between buyers and sellers. What is most relevant is the innovation undertaken to meet these growing requirements–a vision that keeps pace with evolving technology and consumer behavior...this is where we fit!

Is there a story or reasoning behind the nomination?

Our two company founders–Monica Eaton-Cardone and Gary Cardone–were jointly selling products online in 2010, when they were victims of chargeback fraud.

Chargeback fraud is an unjustified refund that’s forced upon merchants, occurring when a cardholder reports an unwarranted charge to their bank. The burden of proof is then on the merchant to defend the legitimacy of the sale, which is an extremely difficult threshold for online purchases, card-not-present transactions and shipped merchandise. Merchants lose $40 billion annually to chargebacks and the payments industry suffers even higher losses as a result.

Monica and Gary searched for a company to protect them from chargeback fraud, but to their astonishment, no such company existed. So, they studied chargebacks and became expert themselves, launching Chargebacks911 in 2011.

Roughly five years later, Chargebacks911 has 300+ global employees, thousands of clients, and corporate offices throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

How did your organization first become acquainted with the Stevies?

The Stevie Awards are internationally recognized as “The World’s Premier Business Awards,” because it’s not about politics, pay-for-play, or personal connections; it’s truly a merit-based honor that celebrates excellence in the field of business. We’ve admired the Stevie Awards for many, many years, and we’re deeply humbled to be included among such a distinguished list of trailblazing entrepreneurs, innovators and international trendsetters.

What was it like for your organization to win this award?

It validated what we believed all along: excellence deserves to be recognized, and if you “build a better mousetrap,” you’ll achieve success. It’s an honor that we share with our dedicated, passionate team-members, and they’re just as proud of this award as our cofounders are!

How has the win affected your business?

The eCommerce industry is extremely technical and very nuanced; even savvy, veteran online merchants often have difficulty understanding the latest developments in chargeback fraud, banking regulations and dispute resolution.  Capturing gold and silver Stevie Awards differentiates us from the competition, and offers an invaluable third-party testimonial to our clients. 

In short, it communicates something very special: We’re the best at what we do. 

What results have been gained since this award was won? Have any documents such as case studies been created that you can share with us?  

We just opened a new location in the UK so we can expand our service levels to better support our growing European customers. This addition comes on the heels of our increased focus on the travel industry. A case study, outlining how our services have impacted the travel industry, can be found here.

Please look out for exciting news–case studies and trends are due to be released Q2 2017.  With the changes from Visa and other payment providers taking hold this year, it is due to be an exciting one for industry news. We plan to release insider tips and regulatory updates shortly.

What changes in the industry does your team find interesting and why?

Perhaps “interesting” isn’t the right word, but it’s certainly noteworthy – cyber-fraud is growing by leaps and bounds:

  • The chargeback issuance rate is growing by 20 percent each year
  • There’s been a 300+ percent increase in fraud attacks on digital goods
  • 94 percent of websites experienced a “bot” (nonhuman) cyber-attack last year
  • 6 percent of an online merchants’ total annual revenue is now spent exclusively on fraud-prevention
  • Chargeback fraud has grown by 41 percent and continues to climb each quarter

It’s an extraordinarily dangerous time for online merchants. It’s becoming as inevitable as death and taxes.

That’s why you NEED to be prepared.  And that’s why Chargebacks911 is here to help.

Is there an inspirational story related to your organization that might appeal to our blog readers?

Because of our rapid growth, Chargebacks911 has hired hundreds of new employees, largely from our hometown in Tampa Bay, Florida.  Sadly, we soon realized that many young people lack the confidence that is a prerequisite for success in such a fast-paced, hi-tech environment. This led our cofounder and Chief Operating Officer Monica Eaton-Cardone to launch a non-profit program called “Get Paid for Grades.” It offers a financial incentive to struggling high schoolers, focusing on improving literacy and mastering the life-skills that so important in today’s economy—thereby, improving self-confidence. 

Chargebacks911 is a sponsor of Get Paid for Grades, and the program recently expanded to four additional schools across Florida. We hope to eventually introduce the program nationally – because every child deserves an opportunity to succeed.

Tags: new product awards, America Business Awards, new product of the year, best new product or service, best new products

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