Skip to main content
Ideas and Solutions

Tackling a Big Problem With Help From the TFA Network

Adeeb Barqawi (Houston ‘12) taps into the Teach For America community to build a stronger safety net for students and families.

By Adeeb Barqawi

February 7, 2019

Calling on a Powerful Community of Leaders

When Adeeb Barqawi's student came to school after a traumatic family crisis, he didn’t have all the tools to provide her with the help she needed. Seeking better ways to connect students with social and health services, he leveraged his relationships within the Teach For America network for ideas and solutions. He is now the founder and CEO of ProUnitas, a nonprofit that strives to strengthen the social safety net of individuals.

I still remember the story of one of my kids. Her head was down and I tried every intervention, and she wouldn't raise her head up. I leaned down and I asked her, "What's going on?" She said, "My mom was murdered last night and I came to school to eat."

I was like, "Well, what do I do? What system do I access?” I went to every foundation and I said, "We need a data management system to help schools connect with social and health services in a much more coordinated fashion." You don't even know what services exist, who's using them, why are they being used, are they making a difference and so on…

ProUnitas was formed and the first product is called Purple. Now Purple is in more than 82 schools, and it's growing. That was really when I cultivated the community and leveraged the relationships formed in Teach For America. Being in the classroom, having that experience, understanding truly what's going on, pulling on the network—that’s powerful.