Cassie McDuffey Bee The Difference
Cassie McDuffey, founder of Bee The Difference. (Credit: Courtesy of Bee The Difference)

Cassie McDuffey is passionate about helping her community – in particular, young women in need of a safe environment that promotes their well-being and allows them to thrive. Through her organization, Bee The Difference, McDuffey helps disadvantaged teens by offering tutoring support and educational activities, as well as a mentorship program. McDuffey’s broader aim is to maintain a safe environment where young women can acquire positive decision-making skills while working toward their career and scholastic goals. 

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

We offer educational support and services that go beyond what is typically offered in a school environment.

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

Receiving the prestigious Key to the Community award from the esteemed Best of Mississippi Award Foundation in October 2023. This recognition validates our efforts and dedication to making a positive impact in the community. We are grateful for the support and recognition we have received, and it motivates us to continue our mission of serving and uplifting the community. And, witnessing our mentees flourish and discover their purpose in life is a huge success in and of itself.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

Securing funding for our program – it’s essential we have the capital necessary to expand and improve upon our services. To overcome this, I am taking advantage of entrepreneurship training that is available to me, as well as exploring various funding opportunities.

Have you experienced any significant personal situations that affected your business decisions? 

Funding the daily operations of the program out of my own pocket has limited my ability to grow our operations.

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

First, don’t be afraid to step out and start! And, remember that you can’t build a successful business by doing it alone. Be open to collaboration, networking, and asking others for support.

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

By engaging in prayer and seeking emotional support from trusted loved ones.

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?

“Unstoppable” by Koryn Hawthorne.

Who is your most important role model?

My step-daughter. She played a significant role in inspiring me to establish this organization. Being part of a blended family was not without its challenges, but witnessing her remarkable growth over the past 18 years has filled me with hope for all of our participants. ◼

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