Video posted on March 11, 2016 at 6:10 am CST

To Kyle Smitley, success is being able to make an impact on Detroit’s education landscape. But making sure that kids are at the forefront of the education conversation remains an obstacle in Detroit.

By her late 20s, Kyle Smitley had seemingly already achieved the American dream as a successful entrepreneur of an organic clothing company in California, but there was something missing.

Propelled by a desire to pursue something more meaningful, she sought to lend her experience and talents to a school that was making great strides in downtown Detroit — a city that has held a special place in her heart since childhood.

When she couldn’t find the school that she was looking for, she decided to start one — Detroit Achievement Academy. Being new to the world of education, she struggled to find footing and support in the Detroit school system at first. But after lots of hard work, and gathering the support of the her students, their families, and the community around her, Detroit Achievement Academy has gained recognition as a charter school that’s made great progress in closing the opportunity gap for kids.

“I’m seeing firsthand how the cycle of poverty and groups of people being entirely marginalized can affect everyone’s opportunity. So part of my passion, my work, is not only to close the opportunity gap for kids, but knowing that I have to close it for their parents,” Kyle said.

She is pursuing her American dream by equipping her students at the Detroit Achievement Academy with a great education so that they can pursue dreams of their own.