Business Accelerator Nourishes Little Roots to Help Empower Students

Date: December 12, 2022

Time: 4:12

By Ashley Guernsey

Two people sitting at a table
Mandee and Marcus Cogley of Little Roots Learning participated in the 2022 Alaska Interior Business Accelerator. Photo by Ashley Guernsey.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a new business launched in Fairbanks to help young students who were isolated and struggling academically.

Mandee and Marcus Cogley, the founders of Little Roots Learning, launched their business in Dec. 2021 aiming to help young students succeed in school during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Kids are kind of missing a crucial two years in their development,” said Mandee Cogley. “Whether they were six or sixteen, everyone's education shifted.”

There was a need for impactful tutoring for students in the community, and the couple had the background and skills to make a difference. Mandee received a bachelor's degree in Child Development and Family Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and worked as an educator for 14 years. Marcus is also an educator with seven years of experience. 

After launching their business, they were struggling with learning business financials, marketing, and developing new curriculum for students.

They did not know people in business but Mandee learned about the Alaska Interior Business Accelerator and they decided to participate as a team.

The Alaska Interior Business Accelerator is an eight-week accelerator founded with the intention of supporting small businesses in the community through workshops coordinated with the combined efforts of University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Center ICE, and the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation. AIBA is supported by the Small Business Development Center and the UAF Community & Technical College.

“The accelerator has been fantastic. Oh, my gosh! This is literally exactly what we needed,” said Mandee Cogley.

Facing the hardships that came along with opening a business, it can be hard to stay motivated. “[The] ‘I get it’ moments to me are something that I really, really enjoy seeing,” said Marcus. “That process of going from not understanding to understanding is something that I really like other people to experience.”

Mandee emphasized that her support system keeps her moving forward.

The Cogleys are interested in expanding their business to offer workshops to support students' emotional and social development. Above all they want to make their center a place where students feel better about themselves. They want to build self-confidence in students so they can eventually become lifelong learners because learning, Marcus said, “is the greatest form of power you can have.”

Find out more about the Alaska Interior Business Accelerator at