Innovator Spotlight: EJ Carrion of 817 Podcast and Student Success Agency


Student Success Agency EJ  was a first-generation college student and got the opportunity to attend college through the Bill Gates Scholarship. He now uses his experiences to support low-income students from over two-hundred schools across the country by providing free tutoring through his organization, the Student Success Agency.

“I was the oldest of two and experiencing it myself as a first gen kid really got me passionate. When kids are doing their homework, dealing with some challenges or trying to apply to a scholarship, that’s oftentimes after school. This means your college advisors are no longer available, counselors no longer available, tutors are no longer available. We reimagine student support services in a digital world where kids can receive advising, tutoring, counseling anywhere, anytime from their cell phone.”

Why Entrepreneurship, and Why Fort Worth? EJ Found entrepreneurship through his gigs as a motivational speaker and his experience as a first gen college student. He believes that entrepreneurs should seek cities like Fort Worth that can grow with them through investment in community and culture.

“I believe real entrepreneurs find new opportunities and new cities and grow with them.”

“We are Cow Town, but then we are Panther city. We’re oil and gas and cowboy boots, but then we are a high population of minority, fresh, young, uh, urban kind of energy. And, I think the importance is to show the world how both can play together.”

The 817 Podcast EJ also co-hosts the 817 Podcast with Jimmy Sweeney,  a TCU alum who decided to leave Amazon and take a chance at entrepreneurship with the debut of The Grand Berry Theater in Fort Worth. Jimmy and EJ both decided they wanted to be here and see Fort Worth flourish and develop in strength, size and culture.

“People are going out of their way to stay here and invest in the city and that is part of what makes it special.”

Passionate about their city, they started their new 817 podcast to discuss all things Fort Worth. EJ and Jimmy touch on interesting subjects including local news, politics, culture and the future of Fort Worth.

We are very passionate about news, media and journalism. Fort Worth voter turnout, it’s the worst voter turnout in the country. Civic engagement is very, very poor. Young people don’t read the news, so Jimmy and I decided to create a weekly 30-to-60-minute show that gives young hustle-bustle, quick audio listening, type people who don’t have the time to read or don’t enjoy it.”

You can listen to the full interview on Innovate Fort Worth, Episode 19: EJ Carrion, The Force Multiplier


Check out a few of our favorite episodes on EJ and co-host Jimmy Sweeneys’ 817 Podcast:

A shifting political culture  

As Fort Worth grows to become one of the largest cities in the United States, have newcomers pushed Tarrant County towards a more progressive culture? Is this new wave of people forming a fracture in the Fort Worth community? In what ways will this impact our local community? Tune into Episode 15  of the podcast to hear more about Fort Worth in the local, state and national political arena.

Life expectancy in Southside Fighting Gentrification

Life expectancy in 76104 in the Southside of Fort Worth, a historically Black neighborhood, is the lowest statewide. EJ and Jimmy discuss systemic barriers this community is facing and talk about whether we are investing enough in historically marginalized communities. Is our leadership ignoring community members who need more support? How can the city and others preserve culture and pride and invest in the success of these communities? Check out Episode 8 and Episode 19 to learn more about BIPOC communities in Fort Worth, gentrification, and rezoning.

Entrepreneurship and job growth  

The 817 Podcast featured our very own Cameron Cushman and discussed the future of entrepreneurship and the role of startups in our local ecosystem. Why is Fort Worth a good place to start a business? How are startups helping the local economy, and how can we help them flourish? To hear more about our local ecosystems, startups and entrepreneurs’ tune into Episode 15


About the Author

Fatima Burney is a UNTHSC Innovation Ecosystems Intern and a Fort Worth native. She is a political science major and a first-generation college student at TCU, passionate about uplifting marginalized communities through advocacy and government work. She enjoys art & rollerblading and does henna.


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