It is with humble, grateful and full hearts that Stacey & I share this family update with you, the friends who have surrounded and supported us these past 4 years. It has been our immense privilege to work and toil alongside so many Military Spouses and education industry professionals in unwavering pursuit of FLG’s mission to employ military families. We truly consider each one of you our extended family.
Your Stories Matter To Us.
Always First, Freedom Learning Group
Same North Star.
Bigger, Better Compass.
FLG’s Future is Brighter Than Ever.
There is a time for everything. A time for hard work, a time for rest, a time for promise, a time of deep and difficult challenges, a time for personal grief and sorrow, and a time for comfort through the camaraderie of your teammates. Through all these times, Stacey and I have been surrounded by this incredible community since FLG’s birth in 2017, and are grateful for the relationships we have been so blessed to build with each of you.
Now, for our family, 2021 is the time for Stacey & I to look back over the past 4 years, grateful for the roles you allowed us to play at Freedom Learning Group, as we turn over management of FLG’s Board of Directors to the incredible Ryan Craig, Cassidy Leventhal, and the incredible Achieve Partners team, hell-bent on disrupting America’s education and employment crises, and putting Americans back to work. We truly couldn’t pick a better organization to continue our mission, or a more qualified, dedicated team to serve and guide our FLG family through these seasons of growth.
While Stacey and I will remain on the FLG Board invested in supporting FLG’s continual success, our personal chapter as active co-founders is complete. FLG’s war on military spouse unemployment is far from over (and we’ll still be here to provide close air support whenever it’s called for 🙂 But for our family, we start our next chapter leaving FLG exactly as we set out;
- An incredible female-majority Board of Directors
- A female CEO full of more drive, integrity, and fire than any Marine I’ve ever met
- A well rounded, experienced, motivated female-majority Senior Leadership Team
- A female-majority Project Management Team, the “backbone” of FLG
- Over 4,000 contracts, 500 Military Spouses hired since 2017, 74% female in 2020
- Over $5M in job creation and paychecks to military families
You, our Freedom Learning Group family, have accomplished this together, and it has been one of our life’s greatest joys to be allowed to serve alongside you. This company was founded by you and for you. As a father, you’ve personally given us an example and legacy that our daughters can continue to watch unfold for years to come, with the inspiration to serve each other and believe in themselves and their ability to make a change in the world, starting with just the smallest of steps down the road less traveled.
Our next generation is watching you, and we couldn’t ask for a better example to follow.
While Stacey and I support FLG’s new leadership moving forward, we’re also excited to share an update on our family’s next chapter.
America Still Remains an Unfinished Symphony
In January our family was rocked by the unexpected loss of my father to a heart attack. He was our childrens’ Last Grandparent, and was laid to rest last week, reunited with my mother Liz, on a quiet hillside in Virginia on what would have been their 44th wedding anniversary.
My dad taught me much over my lifetime. As a father he showed me what unconditional love means, adopting, providing for, and raising 3 interracial children (of which I am one, with my African American sister and Latin American brother).
A pastor for over 20 years, he taught me to love those in need, to find unique ways to serve the community, to seek out and come alongside the broken.
As a grandfather he taught me that it’s ok to have no idea what I’m doing as a parent, but to pray for each other, and live out your best imitation of Jesus alongside our children in love and service to our neighbors.
The final lesson he taught me, as a carpenter, he left for me the day he died. Dad loved restoring old discarded wood, making crosses and wall art in his workshop. The last project that he had been working on was the American Flag.
The day that he died my first thought was how sad it was that he would never have a chance to finish it.
As a country, as a company, and personally as a family, we have shared some of our deepest challenges in the past 4 years. Yet hope remains while the company is true. While our family moves through this season of grief, our renewed hope and determination rests in our father’s last lesson and final reminder:
America is never finished. Each generation must do their part, and toil together in this great American experiment in liberty and democracy.
We have come so far as a nation, but still have a long road to travel towards equality for every American, and to heal the division that has polarized our country in recent years. The words of Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address bring us the comfort of our Founding Fathers’ foresight and hope that our nation will endure these present and future trials;
“These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation… and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.”
The Parable Foundation
Social Change and Human Empathy Starts With a Story
Our Family’s Next Chapter:
Our family has always felt called to serve the underprivileged, reach the marginalized and vulnerable, and lift the voices of the underrepresented. It has been our joy to tell the stories of Military Spouses, and we will continue pursuing global impact for military families tied to employment outcomes.
Back in our hometown of Orlando, Florida, Stacey and I are focusing our family’s next chapter on local community involvement, as we seek to build and live out active examples of bridging division, finding commonality in our humanity, and creating empathy for each of the stories so integral in the local Orlando community.
We are so grateful for the opportunity to announce the launch of our family’s new non-profit Parable Foundation, through which we will have the privilege of awarding financial grants, providing advisory services, and volunteering direct development support to other incredible non-profit organizations and leaders in the Central Florida community.
We believe in the power of the “Parable Effect” to create empathy and social change, by capturing the stories of those most in need of that social change in minority communities, for the purpose of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion across our nation.
Our foundation’s goal is to enhance both education and empathy outcomes for other incredible organizations’ missions that help restore our relationship with one another as Americans, and help restore all of humanity’s relationship with our planet, our single most relevant starting point of commonality.
Parable Foundation Partnerships & Initiatives
Parable Foundation will focus on supporting three core partnerships in the Orlando community over the next 5 years;
- Holocaust Museum for Hope & Humanity, where the Parable Foundation team will help support education and empathy through the stories of our past to ensure a better future. The Museum will focus not only on the stories of Holocaust Survivors but will help build the critical, necessary bridges to present-day, present-culture conviction and social change to protect and preserve our humanity, specifically in the African American community. Read more about the wonderful work being done already to preserve and memorialize survivors’ stories.
- The onePULSE Foundation is working to establish a sanctuary of healing and a beacon of hope by memorializing the lives taken, the lives saved, and all the lives affected by the Pulse nightclub tragedy of June 12, 2016 – ensuring Pulse’s legacy of love lives on forever. Parable Foundation will be supporting the development of onePULSE’s educational programming to outlove hate, focusing on the common ground we share instead of our differences, with the goal of developing a global standard in corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training.
- 4Roots Farm Campus & Culinary Health Institute, working to end local food insecurity in Florida through sustainable partnerships, and serving as a global example of a healthy, sustainable regional food system with a focus on preserving the health of our planet, and the health of the humans who rely on its sustainable provision. Parable Foundation will be supporting the development of university partnerships, educational programming, and job creation & employment outcomes in the agriculture industry.
Additional Parable Foundation Grants & Programs
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth” ~Ephesians 6:2
In addition to the above partnerships & initiatives, Parable Foundation will also be supporting setting up two annual grant programs, to honor and preserve the legacy of Stacey & I’s parents.
- Frank & Liz Ecelbarger Adoption Grant
Our family will be providing an annual endowment to cover up to $10K per year in adoption expenses for a family pursuing interracial adoption. Our hope is to help follow in the legacy left by my parents, and support families who will live out and demonstrate in front of a watching world the love that surpasses ethnicity and race, and the other social labels that are used to separate us.
- Steve & Judy Richart Garden Grant
Both dedicated and humble urban farmers their whole lives, who consistently served the poor and hungry in central Florida, our family will be granting $10K annually to plant, maintain, and grow organic community and residential farms in economically challenged neighborhoods to benefit low-income families.
The Parable Foundation Team
A vision is only as successful as the strength of the team behind it, and we’re honored to welcome some incredible servant leaders and community visionaries to the Parable team.
Dr. Joel Hunter – Head Parable Teller
Pastor Joel has been a faithful friend and supporter of FLG’s mission, and his heart for serving the Central Florida community is a daily inspiration with a century-far vision. Former pastor of Northland Church and spiritual advisor to President Obama, Dr. Hunter is the “Jim Mattis” of evangelicals; compassionate, non-partisan, non-political, integrity-driven. Dr. Hunter will lead the efforts of the Parable Foundation to love people [all people] like Jesus and seek out specific needs for the vulnerable and marginalized.
Marc McMurrin – Board of Directors
Marc brings a wealth of operational and management support to Parable with 26 years actively serving the Central Florida community in his previous role as Executive Director of Northland Church, and current role as Executive Director of the Ginsburg Family Foundation.
Kate Lake – Chief of Staff
The left side of the collective Parable brain, Kate joins us with 24 years of experience in higher education and educational programming, with an educational background in psychology, sociology, school counseling, and emotional intelligence. She also currently serves to support FLG’s Board of Directors. As Chief of Staff at Parable, Kate will lead our teams of project teams as they support our partner organizations’ initiatives.
Our Work As A Country, Company, Community and Family is Far From Over (and that’s a good thing)
Last year, Former Defense Secretary James Mattis took up Abraham Lincoln’s urging to our nation, warning that America’s most significant threat to our republic could come from within.
“Cynicism is corrosive when it saturates a society…America is not some finished work or failed project but an ongoing experiment…we must continue conducting that experiment”
Last week, our 4 children continued my father’s work on his last American Flag. Three generations of our family hammered in the nails to complete the stripes. Members of his church and other local community leaders helped to complete the Flag’s stars, representing every corner of our great republic, save for one star left unfinished.
This particular American flag, my father’s final lesson, is now complete. It will be hung by the doorway to our Parable Foundation offices and passed down to our children. It will serve as a symbolic reminder that the great American experiment in democracy is never finished, and of our somber duty and holy task; to seek out the one star in our community not accounted for, always.
For allowing us to be part of your lives, visions, missions, and mischief in the name of disrupting the status quo to build a better nation for our children, with all our love to our Freedom Learning Group family and new community partners,
Further Up & Further In,
Nathan & Stacey
(& Jordyn, Lucy, Jack, & Anchor-Mattis)