Uplift Teaches STEM to Minority Students in DC

December 28, 2012

9:33 am

In the latest Global Competitiveness Report, the United States ranks 47th worldwide for the quality of math and science education.

Doing its small part to help that, the nonprofit Uplift started an extracurricular program that teaches STEM to minority students in pre-K through 12th grade. With guest speakers, group activities, and field trips, it hopes to encourage these students to get into college and pursue careers in STEM.

Below, executive director Leshell Hatley, a certified K-8 teacher, explains why her mission is so crucial.

Tech Cocktail: What problem does Uplift try to solve? 

Leshell Hatley: In 2010, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology reported that less than one-third of eighth graders in the US are considered proficient in math and science; this same percentage for African-American students is 12 percent. This is more than an academic problem; it dramatically limits career choices and future economic stability for today’s youth.

Tech Cocktail: What was the inspiration behind Uplift? 

Hatley: I enjoy seeing the (proverbial) lightbulb turn on over students’ heads as they are learning, witnessing their pride and confidence as they accomplish tasks and progress to the next level in their experience, and I absolutely enjoy when students finish a project and publish it for the world to see and use (e.g., we have several apps on the Android market and a prototype for the XO, the One Laptop Per Child laptop).

Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about Uplift? 

Hatley: One quirky fact about our team/office culture is that we transform our space into whatever we need it to be. It’s affectionately called the Lab and as a result, depending on who is there, it can be the research Lab, the game design Lab, the programming/computer Lab, the brainstorming Lab, the strategic planning Lab, etc. Everyone loves the space! We have a large orange wall (the color of creativity) and we believe the orange wall sucks you in and doesn’t let you go!

Uplift was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail DCWEEK mixer.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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