This past week FutureFIRST offered a professional development Boot Camp for the renowned D.C. Summer Youth Employment Program, hosted by the D.C. Department of Employment Services’ (DOES) Youth Employment Office. We were excited to be one of several organizations chosen to empower participants to stand out at their summer opportunities.
On the first day we covered public speaking. Participants practiced speaking about themselves and about an unfamiliar topic, and offered each other constructive criticism. The rest of the week included sessions on financial literacy, workplace attire, entrepreneurship, relationship building, resumes and interviewing, personal branding, and digital presence and etiquette.
“What stood out to me was the [session on] budgeting, with our bank account,” said Allexis Baylor, who hopes to become a social worker. “Everyone should know how to manage their money.”
Our participants are illustrators, humanitarians, gamers, aspiring entrepreneurs, civic spokespersons, community servants, and much more. Some have been assigned to their internship sites in years past and hope that this is the summer these become permanent jobs. Others don’t have much experience, but are determined to set goals that will yield a satisfying career. All are putting in the effort each day.
“Our instructor was telling us about all the different internship and professional programs in D.C., and I didn’t know about that,” said LaTonya Williams, an aspiring photographer, who added that she appreciated learning “how to word answers in an interview.”
FutureFIRST’s Boot Camp was fortunate to secure space in the Garfield Terrace Senior Residence, a D.C. community mainstay. Our team and SYEP participants benefited from the presence, care, and storytelling of the residents, with special thanks to Residence President Muhsin “Boe” Umar. As the week concluded, Boe and theFutureFIRST team brainstormed opportunities to give back to this close community that kindly housed us for the week.
We produced our Boot Camp in partnership with Solutions by SF a D.C.-based, black woman-owned business consulting firm. Its CEO, Shermica Farquhar, offered a session on interview skills and resume building, which our participants found helpful. Dr. Connell Wise, Nnamdi Amechi, and our co-founder Cortni Grange also served as featured instructors.
“The interviewing skills and financial literacy — saving money, investing,” we’re the most valuable lessons to Rahcmon Shabazz, whose skills include visual art and strong communication aptitude. “What caught my attention the most is that everybody here is really trying to help. They’re not just here to get paid.”
DC Youth Corps, a summer youth employee professional development program, visits a US staple
On Friday, July 6th, FutureFIRST sent 11 summer youth employees from its DC Youth Corps Washington, D.C. summer 2018 cohort to the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) (@USMoneyFactory) to participate in an entrepreneurial outing. The youth employees are currently working with our Student Relations Manager, Courtney D. Bennett, on various professional development skills and constructive summer work experiences outside their assigned job sites to enrich their overall summer experience.
FutureFIRST was created to address the socioeconomic gap between people of color and their peers. They have developed a new approach to education and employment, with a mission of maximizing the economic potential and opportunity of at-risk minority young adults by combining job site exposure with top-tier technical training from industry leading instructors in the areas of data science, web development, user experience design and ecosystem building.
DC Youth Corps is a program that identifies and selects up to 50 minority young adults and on-boards them into five parallel cohorts in IT. These groups will utilize paired-learning while being exposed to entrepreneurial education concurrently with workforce preparation activities and training for specific occupations or occupational clusters. Cohorts will intersect in areas such as professional development, financial literacy, and preparation for postsecondary education and training.
The goal of the United States Bureau outing was to introduce the cohort of summer 2018 to the entrepreneurial side and various creative jobs offered at the BEP.
Upon arrival, the youth employees were met with an experienced staffer who surprised them with a guided tour of the printing facility to learn about the initial process of engraving and to see how banknotes are created. While the youth had the opportunity to learn the history of the facility, they were also granted the privilege of learning the many entrepreneurial opportunities of the BEP. Although the BEP is the sole producer of all US currency and the nation’s security printer, the BEP is an independent company whereby the United States government is a customer. Like the BEP there are other private companies and entrepreneurs who have a hand in making the Nation’s currency. Th youth were introduced to the company who produces the “paper” that the BEP uses to print banknotes. Which surprisingly turns out to not actually be paper at all, but a blend of cotton which makes our paper currency closer to cloth.
The youth ended the day with new knowledge to put into perspective and new examples of entrepreneurial career tracks. They were encouraged to explore opportunities to work with the BEP and to research other companies that contribute to the making of our Nation’s Currency. After the tour, the youth came back for a final question and answer session before ending their tour experience. Overall, the day was very hands-on, informative, and engaging for all involved.
DC Youth Corps brings together demonstrated leaders in the private and public sector to identify and train the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs in opportunity communities. The professional development programs basic framework for learning opportunities that will complement the work experience gained during the 8-week program.
We are excited that our very own Mike Nabil, the Director of the DC Youth Corps, won the grand prize of $10,000 at the VISA sponsored hackathon!
Last month, our partners at D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) notified us that the U.S. Small Business Administration was planning the National Small Business Week, a nationwide series of events aimed to encourage and support small businesses in the United States.
Among the events was the VISA hackathon held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. on April 27-29. A total of 65 local app developers, business owners and entrepreneurs participated, all in competition for a total prize pool of $24,000. The participants were asked to use APIs from the U.S. Government and VISA Developer Platform and build tools to help small businesses grow and work more efficiently.
The winners, Team Hermyz, were lead to success by Mike Nabil. Mike represented FutureFIRST and took home the grand prize of ten thousand dollars ($10,000). The winning app which they built, Hermyz, is a bot that enables small businesses to manage and pay invoices using the VISA Direct API, which eliminates the need for inefficient paper-based processes. Team Hermyz also included Christopher Phillips, Sandro Guraspasvili, Zach Bauer and Mohamed Elkarim.
Mike explained the idea behind creating team Hermyz: “Being on the leadership team of a small business, I understand first hand how hard it is for small businesses to keep track of their invoices. Late or overdue payments may lead to penalties, credit damage, or loss of providers. The biggest challenge for any startup idea is adoption: convincing a team to use the new platform. We realized that many small businesses and startups use Slack for team management. So, we decided to build a tool based on the Slack platform which is adopted by small businesses and startups. Building a Slack bot meant building a tool accessible to the 6 million users who use Slack every day”.
PYMNTS.com, covered the hackathon and interviewed Team Hermyz and said:
“As the winner of a $10,000 grand prize and the support of a major payments technology company, Hermyz joins a growing community of disruptors and innovators addressing a multitude of problems in corporate payments and financial management today.”
At FutureFITRST, we hire the best talent in our community and aim to provide the best educational experience to our students. We believe that education and entrepreneurship are the only ways for our communities to prosper. If you are interested in joining our team, please contact us here. If you are interested in joining one of our programs, please apply here!
A day well spent talking on a panel about education, access, and opportunity. FutureFIRST joined the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE), and My Brothers Keeper DC for a panel conversation on the pathway to the middle class. How do we build an ecosystem that creates access and opportunity to a changing community?
We need to address the socio-economic gap between our minority youth and their peers – the panelist explored several ways the private and public sector are addressing the socioeconomic gap. Without access to technical and professional training, DC youth of color risk being excluded from high paying jobs in technical sectors and lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities.
The panel was lead by Sheila Kasasa, CEO and co-founder of FutureFIRST, joined by Kendrick Jackson of My Brother’s Keeper DC, James Privette of DC Youth Corps, Connell Wise from the District Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), and Chloe Jordan from the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).
Sheila Kasasa reflected on the importance of mental health support in education programs. Students who are dealing with trauma on a daily basis need these services to be able to continue their technical education. Kasasa shed light on the subject and highlighted a story of a DC Youth Corps 2017 participant who lost her mother during the first week of last year’s program. The emotional and mental support she received from the team has helped her to continue her education.
Kendrick Jackson spoke about the role of public-private partnership, and how the DC government supports private initiatives which focus on creating a pathway to the middle class for the residents of the district. Jackson stressed that there is a need to foster entrepreneurship mentality among youth, stating that ‘real entrepreneurs have full ownership in their work, their well-being, and their income.’
James Privette, DC Youth Corps’ program manager, discussed the need for education programs focused on skills. Students need to be treated like adults, contribute to the design of the education process, and focus on the skills needed to integrate in the workforce. DC Youth Corps’ experience showed that mentorship adds a great value to education programs, beyond the value of traditional classes.
The panelists emphasized the need for role models of color. Young people need to see other people that look like them in the fields they aspire to enter. Young people of color see successful athletes and musicians of color, but they don’t see many successful figures in STEM and Computer Science fields. This has been a consistent finding of the programs implemented in the district.
At FutureFIRST, we understand the importance of raising public conversations about youth, tech, and entrepreneurship. We moderate panels and speak at conferences to bring awareness to these areas. You can book us to moderate a panel or build a workshop around inclusive education. Our experienced team will add value to your conference, panel, or event or build a workshop. While informative, we make it fun!
This panel was hosted by Education Experience Design DC and Industrious DC.
Join FutureFIRST and World Series of Entrepreneurship for this special event. This World Series of Entrepreneurship (WSE) pitch competition will feature high school students representing school districts from four states, including our very own Washington D.C., who have developed entrepreneurial ventures, providing them a platform to compete for funding dollars, scholarship dollars, mentorship, and internship opportunities.
Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Time: 6:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.
Location: Alley powered by Verizon, 2055 L Street NW, Suite #400, Washington, DC 20036
At its core, the WSE is about empowering our kids: to believe in themselves and get involved; to start early at building essential skills and connections and confidence; to roll up their sleeves and go for it! When the students have opportunities to discover, they can show off what they’re really capable of!
For further questions, please contact the DC WSE Co-Managers at:
Chloe Jordan, Email: Chloe@worldseriesofe.com
Marcus Noel, Email: Marcus@worldseriesofe.com
Here at FutureFIRST, we believe Entrepreneurial thinking can elevate lives. Recently, our CEO Sheila Kasasa was interviewed by Lenzyruffin.com for Women’s History Month.
Here’s your chance to get to know our CEO a little bit better. Check out the video below to see our vision through her eyes!