Solution Overview

Solution Name:

IALAS 2-GEN STEAM Incubator Initiative

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One-line solution summary:

I3 prepares families to benefit from and participate in the digital revolution by advancing STEAM(science, technology, entrepreneurship, art

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Pitch your solution.

In the nation's capital, childhood poverty is 26%. When localized to Wards 7-8 with the highest black population, rates climb to 67%. This has been further complicated the digital divide illuminated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

(i3) is disrupting the digital divide with the intent of closing racial wealth and achievement gaps by students and their parents healing from detrimental effects of poverty-induced trauma, preparing them for STEAM careers and equipping them to navigate financial markets to build generational wealth and lasting legacies. 

 

If scaled globally, billions of people living in poverty would have the access and opportunity to thrive fostering understanding and respect for other cultures. Our world would be a better place for ALL.

 

By supporting me you’ll break two barriers: access to social and financial capital, pass me the baton and ill break the next or several more. Welcome to the future, IALAS

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

IALAS helps low-income families exchange a cycle of poverty for a cycle of prosperity.

Racial wealth and achievement gaps create poverty cycles. The world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 60% of Earth’s population (4.6 billion). The top 1% of Americans’ hold 30.4% of U.S. household wealth, while the bottom 50% holds 1.9% of all wealth.

 

According to the 2019 Kids Count by Annie E. Casey Foundation, the childhood poverty rate in the District of Columbia as a whole is 26% and up to 67% when geographically localized to predominantly African American neighborhoods in Wards 7 and 8. Despite D.C. receiving $15 billion, these rates have remained unchanged since 1990, creating almost inescapable cycles of poverty. 

 

Only 20% of middle school-aged students are college and career ready for reading and math per 2019 PARCC scores with many lacking access to enrichment opportunities that could mitigate and bolster performance and. Parents of children living in poverty are oftentimes a product of this failed system lacking the education and opportunity to build wealth. 

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What is your solution?

i3 has 3 core components:

 

REIGNITE: Our foundational Innovative Mental Health includes 1) Individual therapy to heal complex trauma and 2) Mindset Coaching to replace maladaptive stress coping mechanisms with positive alternatives.

POWER: Economic Empowerment includes 1) Comptia A+ IT certification course 2) Financial coaching 3) Uniform Transfer Minority Account (UTMA) accounts for their children

IT certifications prepare parents for in-demand technology careers that can substantially improve their income and advancement opportunities. Financial coaching and UTMA accounts use online and app enabled financial tools to increase assets and build wealth.

POSSIBILITY: Access to STEAM, an after-school program that uses inquiry and problem based learning to prepare students for science and technology related careers. 

 Our after-school program uses drone technology, NASA education tools, Augmented Reality(AR), and virtual field trips.This technology will help students gain knowledge about the science concepts presented, which will in turn, help to improve their grades as they persist through their academics.

By addressing the foundation of physiological well-being, mental health in communities of color while simultaneously providing access to STEAM education and careers we are disrupting the digital divide for black families, ensuring they do not get left behind in the digital revolution.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

The District of Columbia has one of the richest histories in our nation, previously home to the highest population of African Americans. Home to Charles Drew who created techniques for improved blood storage. Home to Gogo music created by Chuck Brown, which is the only music created within our communities that use the original African congos. Many stars were born out of D.C., yet today, the city is gentrifying intensely. 

 

There is a distinct disparity as the city is gentrified which has geographically and politically isolated residents in Wards 7 and 8 from key resources and opportunities. The nation's capital is home to one the highest child poverty rates in the country; some neighborhoods within these wards have a child poverty rate greater than 50%. Studies show that black children living in racially and economically segregated communities are more likely than children in other communities to live in poverty, to be placed in foster or substitute care, to be exposed to both familial and community violence.

 

The average working family within these wards makes an average of $1,252/month where rents on average are $1,000 or more a month. However, D.C. is becoming a hot spot for many high-paying careers, including the technology sector.  The career opportunities in technology careers in the district are plenty, for every 14 available jobs in the I.T. sector, there is 1 qualified candidate. These areas represent opportunities where working families may be able to increase their financial status and economic security.

 

Despite intense investment in D.C. education, wealth and achievement gaps persist. To address this challenging landscape, there need to be aggressive evidence-based interventions that simultaneously combine mental health support, education, career training, and key wealth strategies for both low-income children and their caregivers. A two-generation approach is critical for families to escape intergenerational poverty so they can achieve their highest potential.

 

To understand the needs of this community, we assessed the research concerning the plight and history of ward 7-8 residents. Additionally, we conducted two focus groups, 1-on-1 interviews, community solutions labs, virtual round tables with stakeholders adopting the 2-gen model, and solicited feedback from participants in our first pilot cohort. As a result of these activities, we identified three key needs that we believe we can address: a need to understand the financial market, holistic approaches for parental support and achievements, and a need for non-profits whose funding can meet these complex needs.

Future initiatives include youth listening campaigns to better understand their perceived needs and amplify their voices.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Provide tools and opportunities for equitable access to jobs, credit, and generational wealth creation in communities of color.
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Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

The antiracist challenge focuses on creating antiracist and equitable futures for BIPOC communities. IALAS is a solution created by a member and with the members of the African American communities living in the District of Columbia. Despite computers and engineering being the highest-earning STEM occupations, only 9% of the STEM Workforce. Increased demand and unequal STEM leaders threaten U.S. 's competitiveness.   IALAS increases household wealth through career pathways and financial acumen.  We are disrupting the cultural hegemony, by creating pathways to healing, high earning careers and economic prosperity for disadvantaged communities of color.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Washington D.C., DC, USA
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.
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Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

We began our first service prototype/pilot in December 2020 which included user testing with students and parents living in Wards 7-8 in the District of Columbia. Our program served approximately 10 participants; 3 parents and 7 children, all of which were TANF recipients. We provided parents with a Comptia A+ certification course, financial coaching, access to individual therapy and mindset. Their children ranging from 8-11 participated in our NASA Astrocamp. From this prototype, we found that our partners were a good fit, students loved the Astrocamp. However, we also found in order to be effective, the IT training program needs to be taught in multiple day/week chunks and needs to be in tandem with the mindset course.We chose this developmental stage because we tested some aspects of our program with a limited budget and will be conducting another iteration of our program with some refinements this fall.

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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Ashley McMichael

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More About Your Solution

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
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What makes your solution innovative?

Taking an innovative approach is a key criterion for selection. Describe why your solution provides a new or significantly improved approach to the problem. Explain how it could be catalytic: do you expect it to change the market or enable broader positive impacts from others in this space? How?

There are multiple programs offering workforce, financial literacy, and mental health, yet often exist in silos. Of the past selected solver teams, if chosen, IALAS will be one of the first that employs a 2-generation approach at the middle school level.

Reignite: Mental Health

By guiding families as they pull back trauma layers and helping them see their innate worth, we open doors to countless possibilities.

Power: Economic Empowerment

Unlike financial programs that create dependency, IALAS gives families resources to achieve self-sufficiency, create generational wealth, and experience true freedom by teaching both generations investment skills.

Possibility: STEAM Access

Despite critical brain development during middle school years, this remains the Bermuda Triangle of education that poses a time where students start to lose interest in school.  By captivating their interest in STEAM careers, students gain an edge on high school internships. This exposure lifts them above their current situation and seeds the moguls of tomorrow.

IALAS serves Wards 7-8; once solidified it has the potential to be duplicated into a model that can be used to impact similar communities across the United States.

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Robotics and Drones
  • Software and Mobile Applications
  • Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Women & Girls
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Our solution currently serves 10 and will serve 35 participants through our core program components this fall. Over the course of the year, we intend to serve a minimum of 150 families. Our program will impact a minimum of 750 participants over a 5-year period.

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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

The program uses a blend of qualitative and quantitative methods to gather feedback and ensure effectiveness. Formative evaluation will allow the team to monitor progress and redirect as needed. Summative evaluation will measure the overall program impact.

I3 will implement a triangulation method of data collection, using three or more methods to measure each program objective. This provides qualitative and quantitative feedback, giving a balanced picture of program effectiveness.

Qualitative methods include: surveys, entry/exit interviews, feedback, teacher observation. Feedback will be gathered from students, parents, teachers, community partners, program staff.

Quantitative indicators include: 

REIGNITE:

-Increased sense of positive agency and decreased sense of negative agency

-80% increase positive coping mechanisms when stressed (meditation, yoga, journaling)

-50% increase in daily functional capacity

POWER:

 - 80% pass rate on IT Certification exams

-70% of participants double their incomes within the first enrolled year

-50% increase in financial capability, attitudes, and behaviors through the Success Measures Financial Capability Tool, and increased beliefs about social mobility

POSSIBILITY:

-20% yearly increase on Cornell’s Critical Thinking Assessment

-30% yearly increase in students scoring at or above grade level in reading and math indicated on PARRCC and NWEA -80% of students scoring at or above average on 2018 PISA

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About Your Team

How many people work on your solution team?

5

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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Our leadership and partners have an aggregate of 100+ years in STEAM, finances, business, policy, 2-generation approaches, and a history of rising above challenges. IALAS was birthed from the exhaustion of pleading for a seat at the table, so we’re creating our own table. Collectively, our lived experience represents almost every adversity our families face while our subject matter experts have successful track records.

Ashley McMichael, IALAS Founder - MS-Physiology/Biophysics, Georgetown. Victimized in childhood, she rose to become a community leader committed to bringing others up with her.

Willie Reynolds CompTIA A+, MCITP-SA, MCDST, CTech Copper Cabling/Telecommunications Instructor, Google IT Support Specialist. IT Specialist. Trains youth and underserved in computer repair/networking.  Teaching experience: Howard, University - DC, Brightwood College, Career Technical Institute

Scott Buell, Drone Legends Founder - Hybrid STEM/Social-Emotional after-school program - flight science, physics, aerial cinematography, coding. 

John Williams, Ph.D. - Biology/STEM.

Camille Moss, MSW/LGSW - Social Worker, Clinical Therapist, Yoga.

Linda Stroaman, Financial Coach - Legacy-building action plans.

Ashanti Carter, EdDc/MPH - Rodham Institute Program Manager, George Washington. Middle Medis program design.

Rebecca Cohen, MBA - Social impact solutions. 

Shanel Adams, Social Entrepreneur, Dog Tag Bakery. Empowering veterans/military spouses in business.

Vivica Brooks, TBG Trains - Minority woman-owned workforce development serving marginalized populations. Work readiness training, technical/soft skills.

Lisa Ortman, MA-TESOL, Digital Technology concentration. Migrant Head Start Family Engagement Specialist (2gen model).

Ed Lazere - Founding Director, DC Fiscal Policy Institute. DC poverty expert, budget/policy campaigns addressing systemic inequities: nation’s largest state Earned Income Tax Credit, changing DC funding formula to support high-poverty schools. 

Khadijah Williams - BS-Sociology, Harvard. Nationally recognized homeless youth advocate. Community Organizer. Policy. Conflict Resolution. Data Science

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What is your approach to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership team?

At the Innovative Academy of Liberal Arts and Sciences(IALAS) a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace is one where all employees and volunteers, whatever their gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation or identity, education or disability, feels valued and respected. We are committed to a nondiscriminatory approach and provide equal opportunity for employment and advancement in all of our departments, programs, and worksites. We respect and value diverse life experiences and heritages and ensure that all voices are valued and heard. .

IALAS abides by the following action items to help promote diversity and inclusion in our workplace:

  • Pursue cultural competency throughout our organization by creating substantive learning opportunities and formal, transparent policies.
  • Improve our cultural leadership pipeline by creating and supporting programs and policies that foster leadership that reflects the diversity of American society.
  • Pool resources and expand offerings for underrepresented constituents by connecting with other arts organizations committed to diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Develop and present sessions on diversity, inclusion, and equity to provide information and resources internally, and to members, the community, and the arts industry.
  • Develop a system for being more intentional and conscious of bias during the hiring, promoting, or evaluating process. Train our hiring team on equitable practices.
  • Include a salary range with all public job descriptions.
  • Advocate for public and private-sector policy that promotes diversity, inclusion, and equity. Challenge systems and policies that create inequality, oppression and disparity.

 

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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

Our founder has been a visionary and has never truly fit into anyone's box. Her life has been met with many doubters and naysayers. Time and time again she has proved them wrong by graduating from high school and college while being a young mother. She meets challenges with a problem-solving mindset. Becoming a solver would be both a huge honor and a perfect fit for our founder.  

Solve can support IALAS in the following ways:

MONEY: Funding will support: starter portfolio and investment accounts for cohort participants, contractual cost for STEAM program and hiring one team member.

AMPLIFICATION. We will leverage strategic marketing and media expertise to build a platform disrupting negative cultural narratives through:


MENTORSHIP. We will leverage mentorship, especially with decision-makers to help refine and  influence implementation on a local to national scale.

CONNECTIONS. We will leverage connections by looking for potential ways to partner and support the work of cohort members.

SUPPORT. We would leverage tailored programs to improve leadership ability and develop a strategy for scaling.

 

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)
  • Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)
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Please explain in more detail here.

IALAS needs help fundraising, developing accounting practices, evaluating impact and creating data collection system that can be done on or offline.

Help with social media campaigns to spread awareness, showcase
special events, attract beneficiaries and supporters 2) digital storytelling
highlighting success stories positive father role models, uplifting families,
and peer support


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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

We are looking for partners in the following areas:

  1. MIT Solve to create a Youth Solver Team that can be used to highlight black intellectualism in a positive light.
  2. MIT faculty to co-apply for National Institutes of Health SEPA program
  3. Partners to help our team create an AI empowered learning platform
  4. While it may be a long shot, Capital One can underwrite beginner credit cards and car loans with lower interest rates.

Partners in these areas would advance our solution by expanding our reach while also bring money into these and resources into our community. Minorities pay the highest interest rates, more specifically women. If we truly want to create an anti-racist society and undo the harm that's been done, we have to be aggressive and do what’s right no matter the cost.

 

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Prize to advance your solution?

Wards 7 and 8 in the nation's capital have the highest rate of childhood poverty.  Poverty is synonymous with trauma which causes cognitive changes that impair executive functioning; critical reasoning, metacognition, processing, focus and attention, which have been further impacted by COVID-19. 7,200-9,000 of D.C. students have untreated severe mental illnesses that often present as emotional and behavioral disturbances.

 

The Innovative Academy of Liberal Arts & Sciences is committed to providing STEAM education, economic empowerment and innovative mental health services for students and parents.

 

In addition to providing individual therapy and mindset coaching, we would like to use brain stimulation software: Fast Forword. This program uses neuroscience principles to shape and stimulate higher function through increasingly challenging tasks in tiny incremental steps, like physical training. These skills are trained together in a way that carries over into daily life where learning is integrated. Consequently, all learning gains are sustained.

 

Much of the work that's been done with neuroscience software has not provided demographic information, meaning we do not fully understand how these interventions can support the learning of low-income minority populations. This software can be used to accelerate learning gains for the most disadvantaged in the District of Columbia: black families living in Wards 7 & 8. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way ALL students learn.

Support from the Robert Wood Foundation Prize would  cover the cost to purchase software in addition to cost associated with training our behavior health and learning specialist

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The ASA Prize for Equitable Education? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The Elevate Prize for Antiracist Technology? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The Elevate Prize for Antiracist Technology to advance your solution?

Childhood Poverty is our nation’s capital is 26% and has remained unchanged for 3 decades. The Innovative Academy of Liberal Arts & Sciences is committed to providing STEAM education, economic empowerment and innovative mental health services for students and parents in Wards 7-8. Our work elevates families out of poverty both mentally and physically.  

 

The Elevate Prize’s mission is to dramatically amplify the impact of innovators, activists and problem-solvers Our founder and team collectively share every trauma that our families have or will face and have risen above. The culmination of our founders' life experiences has given her the uncanny ability to see potential in those who cannot see it themselves.. She inspires. She collaborates. She challenges me. She innovates. She has justice in her spirit, and does what's right no matter the cost. She is the epitome of paying it forward and her belief in lifting as you climb serves as an illustration to the broader community as we work together to rewrite negative cultural narratives. The hero within her is awake but transformation impact requires resources. She needs to be elevated. An African proverb says if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together.  Let’s go together Solve!

 

The Elevate Prize would provide us with the resources needed to take our solution to new heights, ceding us with the socials influence and financial backing we need to elevate the black experience ensuring ALL have access to the American Dream.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The GM Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The HP Prize for Advancing Digital Equity? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use The HP Prize for Advancing Digital Equity to advance your solution?

IALAS 2-Gen Incubator Initiative(i3) has 3 core components:

REIGNITE: Our foundational Innovative Mental Health includes 1) Individual therapy to heal complex trauma and 2) Mindset Coaching to replace maladaptive stress coping mechanisms with positive alternatives.

POWER: Economic Empowerment includes 1) Comptia A+ IT certification course 2) Financial coaching 3) Uniform Transfer Minority Account (UTMA) accounts for their children

IT certifications prepare parents for in-demand technology careers that can substantially improve their income and advancement opportunities. Financial coaching and UTMA accounts use online and app-enabled financial tools to increase assets and build wealth.

POSSIBILITY: Access to STEAM, an after-school program that uses inquiry and problem-based learning to prepare students for science and technology-related careers. 

 Our after-school program uses drone technology, NASA education tools, Augmented Reality(AR), and virtual field trips. This technology will help students gain knowledge about the science concepts presented, which will, in turn, help to improve their grades as they persist through their academics.

By addressing the foundation of physiological well-being, mental health in communities of color while simultaneously providing access to STEAM education and careers we are disrupting the digital divide for black families, ensuring they do not get left behind in the digital revolution.

 

Support from the HP Prize would cover the cost to purchase 75 Merge Cubes, make 500 and stipends for 20 parents. Additionally it would allow us to hire and train our program manager, a member from the communities we serve.

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for the Innovation for Women Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

Yes, I wish to apply for this prize

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Explain how you are qualified for this prize. How will your team use the Innovation for Women Prize to advance your solution?

Despite computer science and engineering being the highest earning occupations in STEM, black female STEM graduates in engineering and computer science account for only 2.9.% The increased demand for STEM professionals in the US and inefficient ability to deliver threatens its competitiveness in the global economy. I3 women and girls to meet this need.

 

Women Economic empowerment(WEE) defined by the Gates foundation is; Access to income and assets , control of and benefit from economic gain and the power to make decisions.

I3 increases income, assets and control of economic gains for parents, typically mothers by providing living wage stipend A+ certification, career readiness, and investing. Their Middle school aged daughters get early exposure through STEAM enrichment paired with yearly UGMA account deposit promoting the simultaneous WEE of students and parents.

We imbue women and girls with the power to make decisions about solutions concerning their families lives and communities directly through leadership roles within the organization and indirectly by recruiting I3 graduates on our advisory board.

  If we want to meet the growing demand and establish US competitiveness as a global economy. Empower women of color and watch them wield their wands.

 

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Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The AI for Humanity Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.

No, I do not wish to be considered for this prize, even if the prize funder is specifically interested in my solution

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Solution Team

  • AM AM
    Ashley McMichael Founder & CEO, The Innovative Academy of Liberal Arts & Sciences
 
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