2021 Indigenous Communities Fellowship

Selected

Every Kid Gets a Robot

An affordable robotics kit increasing technical educational access for Indigenous youth

Team Lead

Danielle Boyer

Solution Pitch

The Problem

Indigenous youth often struggle to access quality technical education due to many contributing factors, from a lack of resources to a lack of representation in technical fields. The American Indian Policy Institute found that "18 percent of tribal reservation residents have no internet access at home, wireless or land-based," effectively barring them from the same level of access to technical knowledge as other children. Indigenous peoples are also grossly underrepresented in technical careers, only accounting for 0.4 percent of engineering careers according to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. In fact, according to Intel’s racial breakdown in the “Overview of Diversity in the U.S. Technical Workforce”, Indigenous peoples don’t even have their own category, but are delegated as “Other.” Even then, this category only makes up 1 percent of the technical workforce. When not exposed to essential educational programming focused on robotics, digital design, and coding, it is near impossible to break into the most influential fields and progress as a professional in nearly every industry.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, roughly three out of every ten Native students drop out before graduating from high school in both reservations and cities, furthering the disparity of Indigenous peoples within technology-centered careers. Indigenous youth need access to a simple and active technical educational solution that is provided by Indigenous designers and educators, creating a strong, culturally competent curriculum.

The Solution

The technical educational gap is becoming a pervasive problem for Native youth, and this is where Every Kid Gets a Robot (EKGAR) comes in — bridging the void for children through affordable, scalable, accessible, and diverse means to target key academic, cognitive thinking, and motor skills. Educational robotics strengthen and support students' skills in developing their knowledge through the creation, design, assembly, and operation of robots.

EKGAR is an affordable robotics kit that costs less than $20 to manufacture and is sent to youth for free, supplying individual robots for Native youth programs and class sets to Native organizations, tribal schools, and nonprofits. Driven by a culturally competent curriculum and a focus on accessibility, EKGAR was built to reduce barriers of entry to technical education for Indigenous youths.

Stats 

  • Over 27,000 young people have been reached with Every Kid Gets a Robot.

  • 81 percent of EKGAR robots go to Indigenous students with the remainder serving other minority youths.

Market Opportunity

The annual federal appropriations for STEM education are typically in the range of $2.8 billion to $3.4 billion. The estimated current market size for global educational technology was $89.49 billion in 2020 and $106.04 billion in 2021. EKGAR fits within a small segment of this market through diversity initiatives and youth programming efforts. There is currently no data on how nonprofits are investing in STEM educational products or how corporate sponsors are spending on diversity initiatives regarding specifically STEM or technical education.

Organization Highlights

  • Won the 2020 L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth Award for women-led nonprofits.

  • 2020-2021 Vermont Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program Fellowship.

Partnership Goals

  • SEO and web advertisement expertise, targeting specific content to EKGAR’s four core users: educators, parents, youth, and corporations/organizations.

  • Connections to Indigenous creators to translate existing materials such as books and record short tracks in Native dialects for the SkoBot, a wearable robot assisting in language learning and reclamation.

  • Legal consultation with an intellectual property expert to assist in pursuing patents for EKGAR inventions.

  • Full time board members and mentors for the Youth Advisory Board and Activist and Land Defender Environmental Board, particularly professionals dedicated to providing technical knowledge access to Indigenous youth.

  • HR infrastructure expertise for background checks, NDAs, outsourcing, and healthcare for volunteers and full time employees.

  • Business expertise on developing a hybrid (for-profit and nonprofit) model, strategy development for subscriptions services.

Organization Type:
NonProfit

Headquarters:
Troy, United States

Stage:
Scale

Working In:
United States

Current Employees: 
3

Solution Website:
https://www.steamconnection.org/ 

Solution Team:

  • Danielle Boyer Youth Founder & Activist , The STEAM Connection

 
 
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