DURHAM, N.C., Feb. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc. is excited to announce that its youth STEM and entrepreneurship platform, known as the Urban Leadership Lab, was voted to receive a Participatory Budgeting grant to fund the launch of its technology and business education programs in Durham's downtown district. A non-profit provider of startup, leadership, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, eMerging Entrepreneurs has made a commitment to enroll at least 500 teens within the project's first year; providing local students with opportunities to develop the entrepreneurial and computational thinking skills to become leaders in today's digital, technology-driven economy.
In March of 2019, eMerging Entrepreneurs proposed the creation of a city-wide educational initiative that would not only introduce young people to the excitement of STEM learning, but would equip them with the business skills to become future leaders and innovators in the science-based industries of tomorrow. The organization submitted its concept via the The City of Durham's Participatory Budgeting (PB) community impact grant competition, a program in which the City Council allocated $2.4 million dollars to implement 40 of the nearly 500 project proposals submitted across the three city wards. The Participatory Budgeting process is designed to equip residents with the democratic power to choose how their local government's resources are being used to impact their communities; from improving sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, to the development of technologies and systems to expand Wi-Fi access. eMerging Entrepreneurs is thrilled to announce that not only did the residents of Ward-1 vote for its youth program to be implemented in cycle-1 of city's PB process, but the City Council voted unanimously in favor of awarding $99,121 to support the development of the educational platform, which will be launched in the summer of this year.
"We're thankful for having been entrusted with this award and are committed to making access to these kinds of learning opportunities available to young people across downtown Durham, particularly those communities of students who are underrepresented in STEM education," says T.J. Breeden, Founder and Executive Director of eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc. "Our goal has been to not only make STEM learning environments more inclusive and diverse, but to integrate entrepreneurial education as a way of challenging our youth to become the next generation of tech-preneurs and job creators! This grant and the expansion of our programs across downtown Durham will allow us to do just that."
About eMerging Entrepreneurs:
eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc. is a North Carolina-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to advance the small business, educational, and economic welfare of communities whose interests are under-served; specifically, our nation's military families, women, urban youth, and minority populations. To date, the organization has reached over 10,000 veterans, minorities, and youth, with its Founder having received a number national endorsements, ranging from former President Obama's "Champions of Change" Award and being named the Small Business Administration's "Veterans Entrepreneurship Advocate of the Year," to receiving Radio One's "Cathy Hughes Community Service" Award, and the "Dr. John Hope Franklin Humanitarian of the Year" Award. In 2015, eMerging Entrepreneurs launched its Urban Leadership Lab, a tech and startup incubator designed to provide K-12 youth with access to the kinds of resources that will help them unlock the full capacity of their social and intellectual potential. The following year, the organization was invited by the Obama Administration's Office of Technology Policy to publish its 2016 educational commitment alongside over 200 other institutions as part of the White House's "Computer Science for All" (CSforAll) initiative. The organization has continued its annual commitment to the (now privately led) CSforAll platform as an educational services provider, and to date, over 1,800 youth have engaged the Urban Leadership Lab via traditional and web-based learning environments.
STEM Meets Entrepreneurship:
"The Urban Leadership Lab introduces young people to not only robotics and drone-flight education, but provides them with the tools to explore who they can become," says Tivon Madison, the organization's STEM Coordinator. Mr. Madison; a Veteran of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and an experienced Network Engineer; also serves as the NC Director of Infinite Scholars, a non-profit organization that connects high school students to tens of millions of dollars in scholarship opportunities each year. "It begins with access. Once kids have been introduced to these sorts of opportunities, it ignites something inside of them that could change the entire trajectory of their lives! That's why the pairing of business and tech is so important because it helps them to see how what they're learning in the classroom, can be applied outside of it."
Taught in both traditional and web-based environments, the "Tech Lab" (the STEM division of the Urban Leadership Lab) introduces young people to a range of interactive learning opportunities in science and technology, from LEGO MINDSTORMS® robotics education to online coding. Conversely, the "Startup Lab" teaches students the core elements of creating, building, and operating a successful business, while also placing an emphasis on leadership and financial literacy. The entrepreneurship program is conducted via traditional classroom-style workshops and the organization's e-Launch™ Academy, which is an online, asynchronous educational platform powered by EdX and Teachable.com. Each cohort aims to bridge the gap between traditional learning, entrepreneurship, and technology, by challenging students to create (and launch) innovative, solutions-oriented business concepts.
Achieving Diversity Through Collaboration:
The organization is actively exploring partnerships with youth centers, non-profits, public schools, and faith-based organizations to form a network of learning labs across downtown Durham. "Establishing labs in neighborhoods across Ward-1 will hopefully stretch our reach into communities that haven't had access to these kinds of educational opportunities," Mr. Breeden says. "Proximity is key! As a doctoral student whose current research is centered around diversity in STEM education, I find myself constantly examining the social disparities that disproportionately impact access and inclusion within certain segments of our education system; a condition I believe can be combatted through the proper alignment of public and private interests. Coming together with like-minded partners; each doing all they can to push this effort forward; I believe will not only advance equity but ultimately could help to make an emerging sector of our economy more socially and culturally diverse."
The team at eMerging Entrepreneurs is eager to get started and are optimistic about the impact they can create! "Our program centers around a very simple belief: that access to technology education, coupled with entrepreneurial thinking, is the key to helping our youth explore the full range of career possibilities that lie ahead of them," Mr. Breeden says. "If we can create the opportunities and serve as a viable point of access, then we can begin the hard work of preparing our young men and women to lead the next wave of tech, social, and business innovations!"
For more information on eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc., its mission, or to explore partnership opportunities, please visit: http://www.eMerginginc.org. Details regarding Durham's Participatory Budgeting grant program can be found by visiting: http://www.pbdurham.org.
SOURCE eMerging Entrepreneurs, Inc.