Gracie Cedres

Founder of G.R.A.C.E.

Gracie Cedres is a Harlemite who wears many hats including mother, fiancé, daughter, sister, educator, director, entrepreneur, and CEO. She attended Lehman College, obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology with a minor in Childhood Education. She later earned her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Pennsylvania State. For the past 15 ½ years, she worked at “The Harlem Children’s Zone” adjusting and pivoting with each year in education. Her journey in the nonprofit & charter school sector allowed her to transition from a Beacon after-school program to a NYC Public School as a teacher’s assistant sponsored by Americorp. To complete her Americorp hours and receive a grant towards college she transferred to the newly constructed Promise Academy Charter School.

During her time with HCZ, Gracie has served in multiple positions including Receptionist, Assistant to the Director, Teacher Assistant, Teacher, Youth Advocate, Middle and High School Program Coordinator, and Assistant Director. In her latest position she led as the Director of (2) programs; a middle and high school after-school program, and community center. While Gracie’s intentions were to become a principal, her time at HCZ has heightened her understanding of community development, understanding the need in our Black and Brown communities. Being solution oriented, she decided to take initiative to develop a nonprofit in honor of the work her grandmother has done in Harlem, and within Churches across Harlem and the Bronx. Gracie’s dream of starting a nonprofit has propelled her to higher heights of accomplishing her goals.

G.R.A.C.E. (Granting Resources And Community Enrichment) Incorporation caters to youth, adults and senior citizens, all of whom serve as our leaders of the past, and the leaders of the future. Through partnership and collaboration with other entrepreneurs and organizations, participants will benefit from resources enrichments including, but not limited to “Arts, Tech, Sports, and Health & Wellness, all rooted in Entrepreneurship, and Financial Literacy. The nonprofit organization looks to aide in the economic, mental, and physical advancement of our individuals and families in our communities.

To date, the nonprofit has organized (3) Annual Back to School Block Parties which provide entertainment, food, sneaker and gift card giveaways, and backpacks filled with school supplies. Each of the events have been able to assist approximately 300 individuals in preparation for returning to school. To close out 2021, G.R.A.C.E. (Granting Resources And Community Enrichment) Incorporation will distribute food over the Thanksgiving holiday, collect and donate new gifts to children and teens, as well as a clothing and shoe drive. Going into 2022, the nonprofit plans on providing offering community programming via an app and/or in person. Additional information may be acquired via [email protected] or Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @Harlemsgrace.

Where did the idea for G.R.A.C.E. come from?

The idea for the organization came from my grandmother the late Reverend Gracie Hyman. She was a woman of God who served as a Pastor, musician, singer, wife, mother, and grandmother. She was devoted to assisting anyone in need, and the betterment of her community.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day consists of me checking and replying to emails, attending a workshop for professional development, joining sessions organized by social groups I am apart of, and working on material for the nonprofit. My day also consists of me transporting my children to and from school, cooking, and spending quality time with them.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas are brought to life through planning and organizing. Normally if I have an idea it is presented to the Board of Directors for approval. Once approved, I work alongside Director of Project Development to execute on the vision. From there we may plan, our Communications & Public Director will connect with sponsors or those looking to collaborate, and as a team we finalize all logistics.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Community development and financial education excite me.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

One habit that makes me more productive is writing out my goals for the week. On Sunday, I record in my planner to document what I must accomplish over the course of the week. Then, before executing on any task I review what I must accomplish for the day. This allows me to modify my to do list.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise my younger self to plan for the future and consider what I hope to accomplish. I would suggest not being afraid to learn or try new things, and lastly, to get a mentor as early as possible.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I am unsure of this question because although the majority may not agree, it is hard to find something that absolutely everyone disagrees with.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I recommend writing down your goals. Each year, I set long and short term goals for myself. I consider personal, professional, and health goals that I work to fulfill.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

To be honest, what has recently helped to grown the business is not being afraid to step away from a career that I was in for the last 16yrs of my life to pursue my dreams. I would also say, no longer being afraid to ask for support, and specifically praying to God asking that he place the appropriate people in my life that will allow me to serve him and his people.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

One failure was trying to accomplish everything on my own. I was afraid people would not feel as invested in the nonprofit since it was named after my grandmother (which is also my name). This prevented me from building the business sooner. I overcame it by sharing my vision with the people I was closest to, and those who showed they supported and believed in the vision. Then, I took a leap of faith and asked them to join me on this wonderful journey of building our nonprofit.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I have many business ideas I can share, however that does not mean it will be of importance to those reading. The most important idea is the one that never leaves you. It will continue to live in your heart until you believe in yourself and execute. That is the business idea the readers should flourish.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 is the one that came from my fellow Board of Directors to pay for our Trademark fees. It was important because it showed their dedication to our organization. I realized I was not alone on this journey.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Google Drive helps me be most productive. It allows me to create, upload content, and organize all documents as it pertains to the organization. Salesforce is another essential tool that serves as a hub to store essential information about events, donors, participants, and overall data.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I recommend Limitless by Jim Kwick. It was the first book I read in a long time and it really allowed me to focus on the things I do well in order to develop them in an effort to better myself. It stressed that every single person is capable, the most important part is belief.

What is your favorite quote?

Teamwork makes the dream work!

Key Learnings:

  • Networking is important
  • Professional development is key to success.
  • Surround yourself with likeminded individuals, and those who are willing to support you because they believe in the mission and vision of what you set out to accomplish.
  • Push your ego aside, it’s detrimental to business and growth.
  • Love and trust in yourself, and most importantly PRAY!