Transforming Student Activism to Scientific and Technological Innovations in Underserved Communities
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Problem: ASE aims to convert climate activism into action by teaching underused teenage brains to create innovations that solve local problems in underserved communities like pollution and transit that can lead to global scalable sustainability solutions. The brains of adolescents, while receptive to short-term rewards and peer approval, is also more sensitive to social justice and autonomy.
Solution: The ASE Innovate Pilot impacts communities by training middle-school students on invention, entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability, mentorship from local government’s and USPTO. ASE students create sustainable inventions, compete at competitions and invent their financial freedom. Impact: With huge K-12 budget deficits, it is external programs like ASE that can help a whole generation of young innovators in underserved schools succeed in their academic lives and build great futures. In solving local problems through sustainable innovations, ASE students end up creating solutions that can scale globally.
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What is the problem you are solving?
Scale and Statistics: ASE aims to address the underutilization of the teenage, Gen-Z brain. Student activism for Climate Change and consequential inspirations like the Greta Effect, show huge promise for an untapped resource - the grit of a teenager. ``87% of Gen Z-ers are worried about the environment and feel personally responsible to make a difference. 41% plan to become entrepreneurs and 50% believe they'll invent something that changes the world”. ASE accelerates opportunities for marginalized students through its transformative four-track programming on environmental sustainability, invention, entrepreneurship and pitch-ready.
Contributing Factors: The district now has a budget deficit of $47.8M resulting in huge layoffs and program cuts. It is external agencies like ASE that can provide transformational change not just through STEM and entrepreneurship education but can serve as an agent of social justice and elevate the economic strata of the community through better college and career prospects. Adolescents in the underserved community lack inspiring programming and tinkering opportunities to address local problems beyond activism.
Who are you serving?
Needs Assessment: ASE beachheads in school district of 14292 students, with 70% from low-income families. ASE research indicated that teenagers lack real-life science education, hands-on invention/entrepreneurial opportunities to address issues they are passionate about and are growing up in a world of political and environmental pessimism.
Solution & Implementation: ASE pilots as an after-school club at Korematsu middle school with 57.8% students identified as low income families. ASE pilot curriculum is developed with community, scholarly and student feedback. The four-track ASE Pilot trains students on environmental sustainability, invention, entrepreneurship and being pitch-ready to compete at invention conventions/startup competitions. ASE tagline “Make new mistakes” teaches students to fail fast, creating a generation of creative problem solvers.
Results: Students indicated higher engagement in ASE classes compared to core-school because they saw relevance in learning sustainability, application when learning engineering, and enjoyed creative freedom inventing. Students labelled as disruptive or low achieving are inventing transformative solutions. One team is addressing urban mobility through student developed bamboo scooters. Students consistently show up 10 minutes early to ASE classes. Immigrant parents reached out with Google translated text indicating profound gratitude for ASE programming. The Principal is keen on scaling ASE school wide next year.
What is your solution?
ASE Culture: As a not for profit that serves a school, ASE operates with a startup culture within a school. In the last three months since its formation, ASE set up pilots with successful outcomes, established partnerships and is poised for scale. The efficiency in ASE’s lean operations is primarily because of the field research that went into understanding the problem ASE set out to solve. Changing the K-12 system outside of regulations may not be possible, but ASE found a way to work with in the K-12 system and fix the broken system, one brick (school) at a time.
Services: ASE is operationalizing two pilot methods - students belong to the ASE after-school club at one pilot site (1.2 hours/week) and at another pilot students get in classroom instruction (1 hour/week). ASE’s mantra for students is “make new mistakes”, a philosophy targeted at perseverance, acceptance of failures, while building passion and grit. ASE staff practice what they preach in developing the ASE curriculum in an Agile manner with fast prototyping.
Program: Students are taught aspects of entrepreneurship and business communication in an experiential manner. Students learn about sustainability through an inquiry based approach like calculating their ecological footprint and earth overshoot day. Through its transformative programming by tapping into student’s innate curiosity, tinkering mindset and providing avenues for hands-on exploration opportunities to address local problems that students choose work on.
Partnerships: ASE partners with other leading K-12 business and entrepreneurship education (NFTE and Junior Achievement), and intellectual property agencies ( USPTO) to create a cohesive ASE curriculum that blends all requisite knowledge needed for a student inventor to take his/her invention to market and production.
Processes and Technology: Instruction also happens through a flipped classroom model where the learning material is made available to students through google classrooms for self paced learning. During the weekly ASE club meetings, the ASE educator facilitates hands on projects and inquiry based deep thinking and coaches students through their invention journey.
Mentorship: ASE partnered with the city of El Cerrito to educate students on local sustainable problems that could be addressed through inventions or technological advances. ASE students are paired with industry/business mentors to think through the problems they are working on.
Field Trips: ASE students have field trips to the Fab lab (for fabricating student inventions) and the state of the art recycle center to inspire sustainable inventions.
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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:El Cerrito, CA, USA
Our solution's stage of development:
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
ASE has the advantage of being the first Sustainability focussed invention and entrepreneurship program. However, from a K-12 administrator’s point of view, the comparisons for ASE involve
1. STEM programs or Engineering programs. The K-12 Market is saturated with Engineering and STEM enrichment programs like Lego Robotics, Engineering for Kids etc.
2. There are Entrepreneurship programs through Care for you, Uncharted Learning.
3. Sustainability content is available through Green Education Foundation and Center for Green schools.
ASE Differentiators: 1. ASE differs in its holistic approach on offering invention and entrepreneurship with a sustainability focus.
2. ASE differs in that it is NOT reliant on the classroom teacher to adopt the curriculum. Rather ASE provides the educator and frees up that time for the classroom teacher to use for other activities. Planning time and grading time are so important today for another wise time strapped K-12 teacher.
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
March - June 2020
Enroll in an Accelerator & Begin learning
Wrap up Pilots, collect exit data and testimonials
Create paid program contracts with two elementary and one middle school for school-wide adoption ($75K)
Raise 20K Philanthropic or Grant funding
Recruit teaching staff
June - August 2020
Onboard teaching staff
Create program roll out procedures
Accelerator Program continues
August 2020 - June 2021
Implement Paid programming at Contracted Sites
Create Scale through additional fundraising (50K)
Continue agile developing curriculum (alongside wireframing mobile app)
Wrap up Accelerator - archive and disseminate lessons learnt & relationships made
Increase mentor, donor, evangelist base
Continue testing, revising plans for scale and strategy
Long Term Goals
Create Philanthropic support for ASE’s ambitious goals
Build a Language Agnostic Mobile APP to both teach and mentor students globally
Pilot the ASE APP to various underserved countries
Localize and customize the ASE content for it work efficiently for various regions
Scale globally using the local partners specific to each regions
Create impact locally through student innovations and help them scale their impact globally to create financial freedom for students.
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
2. Cultural: Current budget deficit that has put a damper on optimism for school and district staff.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
Illustrate proof of concept through successful student invention. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating/
If you selected “My solution is already being implemented in one or more of ServiceNow’s primary markets,” please provide an overview of your current activities in those markets.
ASE is operationalizing two pilot methods - students belong to the ASE after-school club at one pilot site (1.2 hours/week) at Korematsu Middle School and at another pilot students get in classroom instruction (1 hour/week) at Harding Elementary in El Cerrito. ASE’s mantra for students is “make new mistakes”, a philosophy targeted at perseverance, acceptance of failures, while building passion and grit. ASE staff practice what they preach in developing the ASE curriculum in an Agile manner with fast prototyping.
If you selected “I am planning to expand my solution to one or more of ServiceNow’s primary markets,” please provide an overview of your expansion plans. What is the market opportunity for your business or product here?
Global Pilot: A Global Pilot in India is currently under discussion to setup operations in Year 2. With the results from strategizing and partnership development efforts from Year 1, the rural pilot project in India will be operationalized. This will be a proof of concept to both understanding localization of curriculum, programming, strategy and operations.
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How many people work on your solution team?
Two full time and five advisors
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
One year on research and four months of operations since incorporation.
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
Our team has the right set of passion, background and expertise needed to get the job done beyond our own expectations.
Sri’s has been the CEO of a STEM EDtech startup (funded by NSF, CEC, & Private revenue) and a COO for a STEM Non-profit strength in operations and converting a vision to execution helps accelerate ASE’s growth. Sri has scaled operations before and is working full time on ASE to scale it.
Dr. Janet Filbin has both research and practitioner experience in curriculum development
Mathew, the principal of Korematsu Middle school is excited to be a part of the ASE Advisory Board
Kripa is a tech executive who exemplifies for ASE students what the journey is to break boundaries of adversary and has innovated her future to C-suite.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
Partnerships: ASE partners with other leading K-12 business and entrepreneurship education (NFTE and Junior Achievement), and intellectual property agencies ( USPTO) to create a cohesive ASE curriculum that blends all requisite knowledge needed for a student inventor to take his/her invention to market and production. The ASE program partners with the city of El Cerrito to educate students on local sustainable problemsASE students have field trips to the Fab lab (for fabricating student inventions) and the state of the art recycle center to inspire sustainable invention
The goal of ASE is to create an open, online, free, language agnostic programming that can scale and access not just this large US market of students but also globally in poverty stricken underserved areas.
Global Pilot: A Global Pilot in India is currently under discussion to setup operations in Year 2. The rural pilot project in India will be a proof of concept to both understanding localization of curriculum, programming, strategy and operations.
Global Partnership Development Efforts: ASE is going through the expat India community living in the US through alumni from prestigious institutions like the IIT, IIM and BITS Pilani - the top tier engineering and business schools in India.
What is your business model?
ASE provides its programming as paid service in K-12 schools for grades 4-8. In some cases the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) can pay for ASE programming especially in the United States and Urban Communities (globally), but in cases, especially in economically challenged schools, ASE works with local private do not passionate about the community or an industry that is local to community and seeks philanthropic funding. The biggest impact for ASE will happen in underdeveloped and economically challenged countries. But to create that scale, we need to learn to standardize the ASE curriculum over the first two years, learn to customize the curriculum and program to local region (country) in the next two years to cause global impact which is the ultimate goal of ASE.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
A scenario planning involving three scenarios has been planned. We seek to create sustainable financial models that go beyond philanthropic funding to scale and grow.
ASE is aggressively seeking paid programs for the 2020-2021 academic year and is having conversations with 4 elementary, 1 middle schools on school wide paid ASE programming and one K-8 school (Mira Vista) that can partially pay for the program. 2. ASE is working with Mira Vista school to raise philanthropic funding to pay for the remainder of the cost. Sri the executive director of ASE will teach at Mira Vista but will not take compensation for this teaching. The partially paid pilot program with philanthropic supplements at K-8 Mira Vista School in Richmond will both help ASE scale to a neighboring town, but also establish a proof of concept on partially paid programming supplemented by philanthropic support.
Beyond revenue, fundraising through Federal and Philanthropic Grants will help with curriculum development and administrative costs.
A combination of revenues from paid ASE programming, and Grants will help scale ASE.
Please refer to the business plan attachment
Why are you applying to the Digital Workforce Challenge?
The biggest impact for ASE will happen in underdeveloped and economically challenged countries. But to create that scale, we need to learn to standardize the ASE curriculum over the first two years, learn to customize the curriculum and program to local region (country) in the next two years to cause global impact which is the ultimate goal of ASE
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
The Gates Foundation
Univeristy of Cornell and Washington