Karim Abouelnaga, Long Island City High School ’09: CEO of Practice Makes Perfect and Education Advocate
Growing up in Queens, Karim Abouelnaga had a series of mentors and teachers who helped change his life trajectory. Karim’s parents immigrated to the United States from Egypt. But when Karim was 15, his father died of lymphoma. To help support his single mother and four brothers, he and his older brother worked while attending high school.
After participating in REACH at Long Island City High School, a program that encouraged students to take advanced placement classes by offering financial support, Karim was able to earn over $300,000 in scholarships to fund his college education at Cornell University. He became the first in his family to graduate from college, and was in the top 10% of his graduating class at Cornell. At only 18, he founded Practice Makes Perfect, an organization that matches inner-city youth with high-achieving mentors from their own neighborhoods for summer enrichment programs.
Karim founded Practice Makes Perfect to help ensure that demography doesn’t dictate the future of low-income New York City students. “So many people try to fix system out of sympathy, but they have never been through a New York City public school,” he says. By matching students with college students only 4-6 years older—and from the same neighborhood—Karim hopes that the kids will be able to better relate to their mentors who have been in the same position.
Since starting Practice Makes Perfect, Karim has been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in education, Magic Johnson’s 32 Under 32 list, and ranked in the top 5 most powerful young entrepreneurs in the world by Richtopia.