Articles by

Tyrell Francis

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    The Miami Foundation’s Engaged Youth participate in a discussion during their second Ashoka’s Youth Venture workshop. Photo credit: Elliott Jones / Ashoka South Florida Knight Foundation supports Ashoka’s Youth Venture to develop entrepreneurial skills in high school students and foster a deeper understanding of community issues. Below, Ashoka Project Manager Elliott Jones and Tyrell Francis, an Ashoka intern and student at Miami-Dade’s iPrep Academy, write an update about the program, which began this summer. Ashoka’s Youth Venture encourages high school students to make a social impact in the community. The students participate in a months-long training program that gives them the skills to initiate their own entrepreneurial projects. As a part of this program, students collaborate to find a solution to social issues. The Miami Foundation’s Engaged Youth have met for their second and third Ashoka’s Youth Venture workshops and continue to demonstrate the same enthusiasm they had when the program began in September. At our first meeting, we asked the teens to make their own observations on local issues and report back at these subsequent workshops. We were all surprised when one member shared her recent experience of organizing a special campaign to bring awareness to social issues. Jessica Myrtil, a junior at William H. Turner Technical Arts High School, shared a video and her experience of hosting Bullying Awareness Week at her school. Jessica has translated that experience directly to her Youth Venture by creating Voices Through Arts, which aims to allow kids to express themselves through the arts while providing a safe and caring environment for student to relieve their stress. Like Jessica, the other Engaged Youth have begun forming groups around issues and coming up with solutions to tackle the identified issue. Another team that has formed is STEMulated Youth, founded by Antonio Menarde (Archimedean Upper Conservatory) and Leila Abdelrahman (Coral Reef Senior High). Their goal is to build interest in science, technology, engineering and math by offering workshops and related seminars to excite students about possible careers in those fields. The teams are beginning to take ownership of this process, and they are developing plans to bring awareness to their causes. We have noticed some overlap in certain areas of their ventures, and our facilitators have encouraged the teams to work together to maximize their impact. We are excited to see what they come up with next. For an easy and simple way for our venture teams to broadcast their social enterprise, we have started using Ashoka’s global site, www.Changemakers.com. This will allow our Changemakers to connect with a worldwide community of leading innovators, investors and individuals who can learn about their projects and support their ideas. So far, four teams have created their site profiles. On the site, you can also view the latest Ashoka’s Youth Venture South Florida impact report. The venture teams were asked to set small goals they can easily reach and to create a video public service announcement to be shared via social media. Students are working on these projects. These small steps are the groundwork for the more serious tasks that lie ahead as the teams work throughout the winter and into the spring to implement their projects.