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How Nicole Gazey and Rebecca Loftus, Co-Founders of IDEAcademy are challenging mainstream education with alternative pathways

Jenna Roberts
Nov 27, 2023

Nicole Gazey and Rebecca Loftus, the dynamic duo behind IDEAcademy, are rewriting the rulebook on education. Their shared journey began with a fusion of personal experiences and a mutual determination to create alternative pathways for young minds. 

When asked how IDEAcademy was born, they shared that Nicole was working in education policy and also had a son with dyslexia who didn't fit into the system, so she faced challenges finding other options. Meanwhile, Rebecca was working as a high school teacher and witnessed countless students falling through the gaps of the traditional system, sparking her quest for change. 

The pair were introduced to each other through Spacecubed, which led to them bonding over their similar backgrounds, sharing ideas and eventually joining forces to start IDEA.

IDEA is an alternative to mainstream education, particularly for the senior secondary age group of 15 to 21 years that is tailored to take them to the next step in their education or career journey.

Throughout 2021, Nicole and Rebecca took part in the Plus Eight Accelerator program, a six month seed-funded program, that connected them with mentors, investors and advisors, and allowed them to scale their business.

We recently sat down with Nicole and Rebecca to ask them what sets IDEA apart from other businesses in the field, with Rebecca explaining that they draw on emerging trends across education and work. This includes flexible co-working, online and hybrid learning, and portfolio-based education programs.

“Students come to us to work on a completely personalised portfolio that includes high-level vocational qualifications, projects, work placements, and even university units,” Rebecca shared.

Beyond the completion of the Plus Eight Accelerator program, choosing Spacecubed as the location to base IDEA gave the team direct access to the startup community, with Rebecca sharing, “being a Spacecubed member and having our first IDEA Hub in the basement of FLUX has been amazing.”

Spacecubed members often drop down into the basement to learn about what they do, and sometimes even present to the students. This collaborative and inspiring environment has opened doors for students to make connections they would not normally be exposed to in mainstream education, with some even going on work experience with Spacecubed members.

We love seeing our members collaborate with each other and immerse themselves within the community, so we asked them how Spacecubed members can get involved with IDEA.

Rebecca responded stating that they are always on the lookout for work placement opportunities for their students.

“They’re super creative and talented students, who can help with anything from data entry and basic coding/software testing to social media and graphic design.”

Another great way to give back is to become a mentor to the students and help guide them on their career path.

“If you're passionate about a particular industry, we can connect you with a young person who shares that passion, and you can provide guidance and support on their projects or offer insights about your career area,” Rebecca added.

IDEA is also keen to connect their students with scholarship opportunities to support their education, with Rebecca sharing, “we are always open to connecting, collaborating, and exploring new opportunities.”

“Whether you want to chat, explore our programs and initiatives, or find ways to work together, we're here and eager to connect with like-minded individuals and organisations,” Rebecca concluded.

IDEAcademy also recently won the highly esteemed RAC WA Emerging Business Excellence Award at the Australian Institute of Management Pinnacle Awards. As a prize, the IDEA Foundation has been granted $20,000 worth of AIM training for their students to access.

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