Driven to make a difference
Clinicians came together in 2015 from different but complementary specialties intent on creating a more effective way to deliver mental health services to young people. They had all experienced the limitations of current approaches and witnessed a gap in Tier 2 support services. They spent three-years developing a bold new approach, weaving together evidence-based strategies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and a wellness focus with therapeutic coaching methodology.
EmpowerU launched in Minnesota schools in 2018 and is now being used by thousands of students across the country. EmpowerU curriculum and coaching methods are aligned with CASEL and National Health and Wellness standards, which allows high school students to earn discretionary elective credit through site-licensed schools. College students can earn a career-enhancing micro-certification in resilience training.
Co-Founder Katie Dorn talks about how the idea of embedded coaching + SEL skills sparked EmpowerU
To provide transformational student support with an abundance of care, helping students replace anxiety and depression with confidence and resilience.
To help millions of students transform from anxiety and doubt into more self-directed and confident human beings who can thrive and succeed, even in the face of difficult circumstances.
What We Believe
- Empathy has transformative power and ensures that every EmpowerU student feels seen, heard, valued and respected each day.
- A student-coaching relationship rooted in trust creates the psychological safety required for students to face and overcome their obstacles.
- Making lasting personal change takes daily intention, time and support.
- Evidence-based strategies coupled with daily support by a caring, consistent coach can fuel student growth.
- Support coupled with accountability is the foundation for motivation and resilience.
- Every student, despite their difficult and uncontrollable circumstances, can find hope by unlocking the power of change within them.
- Change happens one step at a time, one day at a time. By celebrating each small step, students create their own momentum toward positive change.
Clinicians with business brains who deliver evidence-based strategies with heart.
Chief Executive Officer/Co-Founder
Katie Dorn, MA, LSC, MFT is a highly experienced licensed K-12 School Counselor and therapist. After serving as a high school counselor in the western suburbs of Minneapolis, Katie opened a private practice as a therapist and also worked at Adler Graduate school as adjunct faculty and a program director in the school counseling graduate program. She helped align curriculum with state standards as well as gathered data to measure program effectiveness and outcomes. A mother of seven grown children and a successful entrepreneur and author, Katie is a strategic thinker with an ability to connect and build functional and productive teams. Her passion for finding effective ways to help students and families with mental health obstacles fueled the beginning concept of EmpowerU in 2015.
Chief Product Officer/Co-Founder
Abby received her Master of Science degree for communication sciences and disorders at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire. She later received her clinical training certificate from Social Thinking™ fueling her work with young people struggling with anxiety and nuanced social challenges. She understands that we are social beings that crave connection and meaningful relationships and has vast knowledge in helping students build a network of supports and fulfilling peer- relationships that are vital to their wellbeing. Abby is a natural leader and team player, stemming back from her competitive volleyball career. She is motivated and inspires others, effectively leading our growing team of instructor coaches. She also has a knack at creating content for our course video—you may recognize her distinct voice on our video voice-overs.
EmpowerU, Inc. is a women-owned corporation, funded by non-profits as well as Minneapolis-based venture firms such as GreatNorthlabs, Capita3 and ECMC Education Impact Group.
Board of Directors
Great North Labs
Ryan Weber is a Managing Partner at Great North Labs, an early stage venture fund that primarily invests in technology startups across any industry that are based, or have meaningful operations, in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. Great North Labs has assembled a team experienced in scaling technology startups across a variety of industries, along with individuals with strong expertise in exponential technologies, to enable regional startups to achieve rapid growth and global reach.
Pamela York is an early stage investor and serial entrepreneur with extensive success from launch to exit in technology-based companies. She’s a co-founder and managing partner for the Capita3 Venture Capital Group and the Capita3 Leader Launch accelerator for early stage entrepreneurs and leaders in health and healthcare.
Sarah DiFrancesco is a marketing and business development expert with over 20 years of leadership experience. She currently serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Renaissance Learning where she oversees marketing as well as government affairs and educational affairs activities for the company.
Josh Slayton is the SVP of corporate development & impact investing for ECMC Group, leading strategic planning along with our organic and inorganic corporate development efforts, as well as overseeing execution of the $125M+ Education Impact Fund.