Victor Anthony Scotti, Jr. – A Different World: Moving Mountains in VR

Moving Mountains, LLC equips Black college men for personal and professional alignment in Corporate America’s Fortune 500 companies. They accelerate Black boys’ self-efficacy through tangible professional experience, job shadowing, mentorship, and psychosocial and socio-emotional support. Their olution provides virtual job shadowing for a cohort of 10 Black male students with one partner Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Students will use Virtual Reality (VR) to explore career pathways with five Black men. Our subjects will occupy various intersecting and overlapping identities, such as sexual identity, age, socioeconomic status, educational background, and geographic origin. They will also span the talent journey; from entry-level to mid-career, to C-suite executives. Uniquely, videos integrate subjects’ professional and personal lives, giving viewers a holistic and realistic shadowing experience. Students exercise agency, choice, and autonomy through self-paced, on-demand simulation modules.

Funds provided through their Catalyze Challenge award will help cover: on-site filming, production, and post-production; participant licensure; and VR headsets for each student. Additionally, they will re-grant a portion of the award to student gap scholarships up to $1,000/student through the Scotti Scholarship Foundation. Over time, scholarship investments will help narrow the $10.14 trillion racial wealth gap fueled by the student debt crisis. Additionally, funds will support students in engaging with the project, including on-site, cohort-style connections with participants.

“Moving Mountains is a ‘counter-space’; a space that honors our intersecting and overlapping identities, resilience, and strengths while centering agency, wellness, power, and possibilities” – Victor Scotti, Jr., Founder & Chief Inspiration Officer, Moving Mountains, LLC.

For more information about Moving Mountains, LLC, go to www.movingmountainsllc.org.

Builders and Backers – Credentials for Young Entrepreneurs

Builders + Backers is partnering with Education Design Lab (Lab) to take its Idea Accelerator curriculum (participants learn skills around problem solving, ideating, and experimenting), and translate this curriculum and learnings into stackable credentials that signal soft skill mastery. These credentials will act as a validated market signal to showcase why a young participant has the experience necessary to launch a business and/or connect learners to employment in high growth careers.

Builders + Backers knows there is an inequitable onramp to gain entrepreneurial skills and/or pursue as a potential career as well as an inequitable distribution of social and financial capital. The program provides a unique and low-risk path to develop these skills that also equip young participants with essential skills for the workforce. The Lab has worked with 135+ colleges, 60+ employers, 10 regions, and thousands of learners, to design and pilot programs, credentials, and pathways for “new majority learners” – black, latinx, indigenous, first-generation, working parents. The Lab’s research has shown that employers/educators believe that 21st Century Skills (mobility skills, power skills, durable skills) are essential for young people and that skills such as collaboration, problem solving and empathy are in demand by employers. Individuals who acquire skills through non-traditional routes, such as an idea accelerator, need to verify these skills as digital badges to employers. Builders + Backers is removing the hurdles that keep people from seeing themselves as builders and pursuing their ideas, and is excited to work with the Lab to develop the first credentialed Idea Accelerator that targets underrepresented entrepreneurs and learners.

To learn more about Builders + Backers, please visit the website at buildersandbackers.com

Cowden St. Collaborative DBA Segue Academy – Legacy High School for Education

The Segue Institute for Learning, founded in 2009; is a K-8 full service public charter school and is creating more opportunities for students and families from the urban core communities of Rhode Island by establishing and opening the “Legacy High School for Education.” Their expectation is to be a part of the solution to the state’s teacher/educator shortage; specifically those who are BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color). Legacy will support 400 additional scholars in a high school program where staff and instructors will not only work towards educating and training young adults on the tenets and foundations of education, but also will embed the construct of understanding and conquering educational inequities as part of its everyday work.

The Legacy High school for Education, although just in its primitive stages of exploration, is already garnering support from many non-profit organizations and educators in the state, seeing it as a potential exemplar for how educators must be prepared to function in a multicultural environment with special attention to working with diverse populations.

Innovators for Purpose – New Futures Lab

A radically re-imagined approach to STEM learning in public schools that empowers diverse young people to become innovators who create positive impact in the world. Innovators for Purpose (iFp) is a BIPOC-led youth design and innovation studio and learning lab. Using a hands-on multidisciplinary approach integrating art, design, science, technology, and youth-voice within a social justice framework, iFp empowers young people, especially those from traditionally underrepresented groups, to become our next generation of purpose-driven innovators. iFp alumni are committed to pursuing college and career pathways that create positive impact in the world.

iFp is incredibly excited to have been chosen for an Ignite award. It will allow allocation of focus and resources to program design, curriculum development, piloting, and evaluation of New Futures Lab, thus greatly expanding the breadth of their reach.

New Futures Lab (grades 7-8) will leverage our proven methodology of integrating the “equity ethic” with STEM learning. There is a growing body of research that suggests STEM content experienced through a social justice lens, inspires greater motivation and engagement as compared with traditional classroom contexts. This is especially true for historically underrepresented youth. Students who may not see themselves as innovators become impassioned through participation in topics that are important to them and have a community impact.

New Futures Lab will be an intensive 1-week experiential program that meets during school hours greatly increasing its accessibility. Through partnerships with schools, students will gain school credit as they experiment and find ways to explore their own passions. Exposing students to STEM subjects at this scale through iFp’s unique lens will undoubtedly recruit new prospects to this field with so much future potential.

For more information about Innovators for Purpose, go to innovatorsforpurpose.org

Code the Spectrum – Spectrum IT Career Pathways

Code the Spectrum provides computer technology training to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other neurodevelopmental disorders, and connects them to the high-tech world.
They envision a world with more neurodiverse people working in the Information Technology field, unleashing their greatest potential and creating values for the society. The Catalyze Challenge Award will support Code the Spectrum launch the pilot technical training program to validate the training model and teaching materials tailored for students with ASD, collect feedback from industry partners, and organize a conference to connect students with employers for IT job and internship opportunities.


Code the Spectrum website: https://codethespectrum.org/

Rural Community Alliance – Just and Thriving Rural & Remote Futures

Seeing the trend of work-from-home opportunities increasing throughout the US, Rural Community Alliance’s Just and Thriving Remote Futures Initiative hopes to bring remote work opportunities to students in rural communities throughout Arkansas. After listening to a diverse group of young people across the state, this initiative will tap into the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of their students to get them the support they need to be able to stay local and work successfully from home. This initiative elevates the voices of rural youth in the larger conversation of remote work and creates mechanisms, using both digital and pop-up gatherings, for youth to design the learning experiences, networks, and programs they need to succeed in remote careers. 

“Rural youth have an enormous stake in the future of remote work and their voices and aspirations should be centered in the planning and implementation of state and national programs,” says Sara Bishop, co-imagineer of Reimagine Arkansas. “By flipping the usual top-down feedback model, Reimagine’s listening and text-based portal processes can ensure school-to-career remote pathways reflect and are accountable to the needs of youth in rural communities.”

For more information about Rural Community Alliance and the Just and Thriving Remote Futures Initiative, visit thenewrural.org. You can also learn about their partner organization Reimagine Arkansas at reimaginearkansas.com.

Trio New College Network – 3-D Learning

Trio New College Network, Gateway U Hybrid College, and K-12 education partners LEAD Charter School & Great Oaks Legacy Charter School, have come together to create a model aiming to unify three currently disconnected “dimensions” of our current education system – K-12, higher education, and workforce development – in order to eliminate barriers to student success. 

High school students participating in the program via Gateway U, New Jersey’s first hybrid college, will enroll in college-level courses mapped to state graduation requirements, allowing them to earn dual credit. Through a partnership with Southern New Hampshire University’s pioneering competency-based education program, College for America, students will take project-based courses designed in collaboration with major employers to prepare them for the workforce. After graduating high school, students will be automatically accepted into the BA program at Southern New Hampshire University and placed into jobs with local employer partners. Due to the flexible, asynchronous structure of College for America, students will have the opportunity to both work and attend school simultaneously. Moreover, as students work to complete their degrees, Gateway U will provide them access to study space, wrap-around support services, and personalized academic and career counseling.

Saymah Nah

“The Catalyze Challenge raises the importance of strategic collaboration across career, college, and high schools. By strengthening the pipeline between education and career, everyone benefits, including students, families, employers, schools, and our greater society. As the first hybrid college in NJ, Gateway U is excited to work with Catalyze partners to increase opportunities and improve outcomes for students.” – Saymah Nah, Executive Director at Gateway U

For more information about Trio New College Network, go to trionetwork.org. And you can learn about their partner organization, Gateway U Hybrid College at gatewayunewark.org.

CodeSpeak Labs – The Next Step

The Next Step is a creative agency of BIPOC high school students from underserved communities in California and New York, working with professional mentors from CodeSpeak Labs. The agency gives students real-world professional experience doing web development and social media marketing for mission-driven organizations. 

Students work closely with mentors, including professional graphic designers and web developers. The program prioritizes students achieving milestones of a professional workplace and gaining practical, applicable skills that allow students to make a career out of their passions without a college degree. The Next Step enables students to use their passion for art and technology in ways that directly translate into real-world experience, impact, and a paycheck.

Students meet virtually during the pandemic

“Students told us that the continued lockdown made them feel like their dreams and goals were on hold. They felt stuck. At the same time, they found solace in social media and creating digital art at home.” – Jen Chiou, Founder, CodeSpeak Labs

For more information about CodeSpeak Labs and The Next Step, go to codespeaklabs.com/the-next-step.

BUILD – BUILDing Generation Entrepreneurs

BUILD‘s mission is to ignite the potential of youth in under-resourced communities to build Career success, Entrepreneurial mindsets, and Opportunity. The aim is to help youth become CEO’s of their own lives. BUILD partners with educators across the United States with Regional Hubs in the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington D.C., Boston and New York.

The BUILD team are incredibly excited to have been chosen for an Ignite award to support the development of their digital badging program. Part of BUILD’s career-connected focus to help youth from middle and high school, the digital badging program helps build the professional skills for the world of work. 

By providing a competency-based assessment system that gamifies the learning experience, youth will gain a mastery of 21st-century, career, and life skills, while their earned online badges document their learning.  It begins with opportunities that reinforce a proven four-year Entrepreneurship Curriculum, including career readiness, and marketable job skills. Through strategic partnerships with industry leaders, youth complete modules (e.g., resume writing) and obtain industry-recognized certifications (e.g., Microsoft Office Suite). 

As youth are engaged (with BUILD’s guidance), they will understand the connections between what they learn and badges they earn to the skills needed for future careers and ultimately build their social capital, and create economic mobility. Their capacity to impact their communities will grow and these lifelong learners will be able to lead the change they want to see in the world.

For more information about BUILD and BUILDing Generation Entrepreneurs, go to build.org.

Aecern – At The Cutting Edge

Rapidly evolving technologies like AI, advanced manufacturing, robotics, and data science are transforming our society and opening up important new career opportunities, but also exacerbating inequities that disproportionately impact minorities and women. Aecern’s At the Cutting Edge program addresses this urgent challenge by engaging students in grades 6 and up in these emerging technologies and associated careers while working on solutions to urgent, authentic problems facing professionals in these fields.

Featured professionals are selected to reflect the diversity in demographics, background, education and technologies required for an effective and inclusive workforce of the future. Students engage with these career role models virtually on the Scoutlier digital learning platform as they imagine, design, share and pitch their solutions. This program is being piloted with educators in Tampa FL and is available nationally.

“Rapid Innovation inspires children to be problem solvers as the students of all ages participate in the analysis of a community need and come together to creatively solve the problem.” – Nathan, Grade 11

“We will be able to reach underrepresented students through the platform and provide them with experiences that will acquaint them with prospective career pathways, such as a career in medicine. This will also diversify careers that historically have an underrepresentation of African American and Latinx people.” – Simone Brookins Jenkins, PhD

For information about Aecern and At the Cutting Edge, visit scoutlier.com.