From a young age, Charlie Javice has done everything in her power to make a difference in the lives of the people around her. From starting a food bank in the ninth grade to founding a social impact network that enables students to learn about and invest in social initiatives, Javice is fiercely passionate about helping those in need.
Over the years, she has noticed how education can be a crucial gateway to opportunity that, for many, remains closed due to circumstance. Javice believes that education is a right, not a privilege, and that’s what inspired her to start her company, Frank. As the founder and CEO, her mission is to provide all students with the ability to afford the school of their dreams with access to financial aid and collegiate resources.
Javice knows that higher education is essential to empowering the minds of young people, so she designed Frank’s online platform to simplify the time-consuming financial aid application process. Since its launch, Frank has helped over 250,000 families benefit from an impressive $6.3 billion in free financial aid, with those numbers increasing every day. Javice’s altruism has facilitated a monumental — and fundamental — shift in access to college for all.
At InHerSight, we commend the women who’ve had the courage and perseverance to follow their dreams and passions. We had the pleasure of speaking to Javice about Frank, her inspiration, and the challenges associated with being a leader.
InHerSightWhere did you get the inspiration to start Frank?
JaviceWhile volunteering with inner city kids in Philadelphia, I learned that so many of them don’t view college as a real option, and some even expect to be in prison before they have the chance to graduate from high school. In addition to that, many schools just don’t have the resources to help students understand and work through the process. The experience really ignited a fire in me that this is an area where I wanted to make an impact.
InHerSightWhat was your career experience before Frank, and how has it helped you in your current ventures?
JaviceI started a food bank at my school when I was in ninth grade that is still active and serving about 300 meals a month. While studying at UPenn, I founded PoverUp, which is a social impact network where students can learn, connect, and invest in socially impactful ventures. Upon graduation, I started a company called Tap’d. Tap’d is a new credit score [agency] for students, to help them get access to cheaper credit to be able to get student aid for college. Tap’d actually pivoted into Frank, giving me the ability to bring my passion for helping others get an education to life. These experiences taught me that success is a journey. It doesn’t always come easy, and it’s definitely not always pretty, but if I work hard enough and surround myself with a great team, anything is possible.
InHerSightYou’re only 25. What are the challenges associated with being a young CEO?
JaviceHonestly, my age. Sitting in a room with those older and “wiser,” it’s more difficult to gain their trust and respect. It’s taught me a lot about myself and has shown me how resilient I can truly be.
InHerSightIn your experience as a CEO, what are the benefits of providing positive feedback to employees?
JaviceGrowing up in a rigorous French education system where negative grades and only negative feedback are status quo, I’ve had to learn to reinforce positive feedback more often and not only convey improvements. Congratulating people on the small things often truly makes a world of a difference. This ensures that when you do provide feedback or receive feedback on improvements, your relationship is strong enough, and you know the feedback comes from a place of respect and integrity. Only then can feedback lead to positive change and really be heard.
InHerSightSome of Frank’s values include ‘be resilient,’ ‘learn often,’ and ‘embrace diversity.’ How do you channel these values into your leadership as a woman in a male-dominated field?
JaviceBy rolling up my sleeves and leading by example, I show my team each day that I am willing to get “down in the trenches” and work right beside them. We have one goal, and I am there 100 percent every step of the way.
InHerSightHow do you maintain a good work-life balance?
JaviceI try to maintain a work-life balance by actively scheduling a regular time to unplug and holding myself to it. It really helps me come back more creative and energized. From Friday night to Saturday sundown, I don’t touch my work email and just focus on spending time with friends.
InHerSightYou’re advocating for inclusion and diversity to make the American Dream a reality. What strides do you hope to see in the nearby future?
JaviceI’m hoping to help bridge the gap between students and the billions of dollars in financial aid each year that go unclaimed. I hope that all students, regardless of race or income will have access to financial aid and college resources — that they will know how to properly file FAFSA, apply to college, and be able to find the grants and scholarships they deserve without having to take out thousands of dollars in student loans. Education is a right, not a privilege.
InHerSightWhat is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career? What advice do you have for other women looking to have meaningful careers in education?
JaviceIn a word: resilience. Things don’t always turn out the way you want them to, but keep trying and don’t give up.
For more empowering stories of working women making waves, check out InHerSight’s features on successful professional women.
By Cara Hutto
Born and raised a Tar Heel, Cara Hutto is a culinary aficionado and zealous writer consumed by wanderlust. She’s passionate about women’s issues and interviewing inspirational women in her community.