For years, President ObamaÂ has declared that America can “win the future” and achieveÂ the next level of greatness throughÂ education, innovation and diversity. TheÂ White HouseÂ today will saluteÂ a group ofÂ professionals, entrepreneurs and educatorsÂ it calls “Champions of Change,” professionals, entrepreneurs and educators who have designed models of inclusion in STEM (science, technology, engineeringÂ and math) sectors.
According to White House officials, these 10Â local heroesÂ are being honored because they have created initiatives to advanceÂ young peopleÂ underrepresented in technology and science, applying a rangeÂ ofÂ nontraditionalÂ approaches to engageÂ students including photography, film,Â hip hop music,Â coding competitions and community-based workshops. TheÂ event, which is closed to press, will be live streamed on www.whitehouse.gov/live at 10:00 am.
The recognition comes at a time when more historically black colleges and universities, civicÂ organizations, government officials and businesses have beenÂ focused on attractingÂ African Americans to this opportunity-rich field. In fact, BLACK ENTERPRISE withÂ support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation willÂ present the “Educating Our Daughters” symposiumÂ at the Women of Power Summit in Boca Raton, Florida today toÂ increase the flow of young women of color into STEM programs.
STEM has always been a major component ofÂ the education platformÂ of the president who maintained the nation could achieveÂ “our generation’s Sputnik moment” in his 2011 State of the Union address. He signed two years agoÂ an executive order creating the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans as aÂ means of repositioningÂ theÂ US asÂ global leader in education and, at the same time,Â improving the scholasticÂ achievement 0f African Americans in K-12 and postsecondary education.
The following Champions of Change couldÂ play a large role in driving the innovation and education agenda. Here are this year’s recipients:
Kevin Clark, director of the Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity at George Mason University,Â usesÂ the expertise of scholars and industry professionals nationwideÂ to develop, among other things, digital media products andÂ quality educational resources for diverse audiences. His recent activities have focused on the use of video game design to bolster interest in STEM careers.
Christopher Emdin, director of Science Education at the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education at Columbia University,Â manages the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S., competitions amongÂ students in New York City public schools that uses hip hop culture, andÂ the #HipHopEd social media movement, which seeks to drive public conversation around the intersection ofÂ hip hop and theÂ sciences.
Andrea Hence Evans, principal of KidGINEER, LLC and a Washington, DC intellectual property attorneyÂ who has spoken at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference about protecting business concepts. She hasÂ developedÂ KidGINEER as a powerful STEM enrichment program to help students retainÂ interest in math and science at an early age.
Eunique Jones Gibson, a New York-basedÂ artist, cultural architect and media specialist,Â is founder ofÂ theÂ Because of Them, We Canâ„¢ campaign whichÂ encouragesÂ youth to pay homage toÂ the legacy ofÂ their ancestors through their own individual pursuit of greatness using photographs, video and technology.
Reagan Flowers, founder of C-STEM Teacher and Student Support Services in Houston, created the nation’s first integrated Pre-K-12 STEM enrichment program. UsingÂ her own resources 12 years ago, she built anÂ organizationÂ impacting more than 100,000 students.
Christina Lewis Halpern, founder of New York-based All Star Code, developedÂ a not-for-profit education organization to close the tech opportunity gapÂ for youngÂ men of color throughÂ an intensiveÂ skills developmentÂ program, internships, mentorship and networking. She isÂ a 2014 Echoing Green semifinalist and a board member of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, named after her father who founded TLC Beatrice, the first BE 100s company to surpass the billion-dollar mark in revenues.
Felecia Hatcher, co-founder of Miami-based Code Fever, seeks toÂ develop 10,000 black-owned start-upsÂ by training African American youth in the areas of technology and entrepreneurship.Â An author, social entrepreneur andÂ Chief Popsicle of Feverish Ice Cream, Hatcher has been featured as a Black Enterprise Innovator of the Week.
Danielle N. Lee, a Stillwater, OklahomaÂ animal behavior biologist thatÂ has developedÂ groundbreaking research, has developedÂ science outreach effortsÂ to underserved groups usingÂ outdoor programming and social media.Â SheÂ blogs aboutÂ research,Â evolutionary biology and diversity atÂ The Urban ScientistÂ hosted by Scientific AmericanÂ Scientific American Blog Network.
Kalimah Priforce, co-founder of Oakland, Califoria-based Qeyno Labs, an education innovation startup that works with local partners and schools toÂ fosterÂ STEM diversity in K-12 education byÂ engaging underserved youth throughÂ the Web, mobile-based technology and hack-a-thons.
Kimberly A. Scott, executive director of CompuGirls in Temple, Arizona, launchedÂ this technology program for adolescent girls from underserved school districts in 2007,Â offering participants a chanceÂ to work with cutting edge digital mediaÂ to encourage computational thinking whileÂ promotingÂ positive change in their communities.