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Daniel Stedman: An Audacious Idea

An Audacious Idea

Dan Stedman thought his future was in film-making. But when his brother approached him with a journalism project, he couldn’t say no. Their digest-sized magazine, “L”, grew into community-wide events like the Northside music festival in Brooklyn, outdoor movies in Williamsburg, a culinary symposium, and then finally, Brooklyn Magazine, which was acquired in 2015.

Dan knew from these experiences that he wanted to invest his skills in the underserved communities in Brooklyn. He thought the most natural thing he could do was offer to volunteer in some of the local high school’s journalism programs. The problem was- they just didn’t exist. It wasn’t until later when he volunteered to start an elementary school newspaper with his son’s Kindergarten class, that he got an audacious idea. While he loved helping his son and his friends he knew he could do more, and on a grander scale. He wanted to impact tens of millions of kids to be great writers and critical thinkers.

The Birth of PRESSTO

PRESSTO originally began as a journalism platform designed to teach students the tenets of good writing such as how to use subjectivity and objectivity, active/passive voice, finding credible resources, and understanding the difference between opinion and fact through project-based learning model. The goal was to make writing more fun for kids, and easier for teachers. But Dan and his team soon realized that teachers weren’t just using PRESSTO for journalism- but across all of the disciplines. The deeper problem, he recognized, was getting kids excited about writing. PRESSTO was restructured from a teaching tool for journalism to reach a broader audience and became what it is today: a critical writing and media literacy platform designed to inspire in students a love of writing and the honing of critical thinking skills.

Words For All Aspiring Creative Entrepreneurs

Dan isn’t the type to keep good information to himself. When asked what words he would pass along to fellow entrepreneurs, he gave some sound advice. He said that anytime you start a new creative and/or business endeavor you should write out your values, and then be flexible when they change in the first 12 months. He encouraged every aspiring creator to embrace the nine lives that come with the entrepreneurial journey; it’s a test of endurance. It’s easy to get swept up in the marketing and the sales, just focus on the thing that is in your control; which is the work. His wisdom means more, as it comes backed by his own experience: Listen to your team, your community, and customers; and always follow your heart. It worked for him.

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