Media Personality Peace Hyde Using Business to Transcend Poverty in Africa

Peace Hyde

Growing up in a strict Ghanaian household in the United Kingdom, education was a priority for media entrepreneur Peace Hyde. In her words, “If you’re not a doctor, or a lawyer, or an engineer, then what are you doing with your life?” But despite the pressure from her family to become a doctor and her strong interest in science, Hyde preferred the arts over dissecting frogs in Biology class.

 

Surprisingly, Hyde’s mother did not fret much when she set out on her first musical performance in Mary Poppins at age 11. She says her mother is “like Superwoman, she does everything well.” Her mother’s desire to instill those same ‘superwoman’ qualities in her daughter prompted Hyde to be equally as cultured as she was educated. Despite her mom’s acknowledgment of her daughter’s gift of commanding an audience, tradition made Hyde’s mother adverse to her young daughter pursuing any career in the arts.

 

So for over a decade, Hyde studied the sciences—ultimately leading to a career teaching chemistry, biology, and physics in the UK.  Peace achieved great successes as an educator, but her desire to be in front of an audience never left her spirit. In 2014, she moved “back home” to Ghana to pursue her childhood passion of acting. A year later, she scored her first role in MTV’s Shuga as an HIV positive mother and mentor. Though her childhood dream was being realized, Hyde found little rest when she witnessed the unthinkable.

 

It was at the street markets in metropolitan Ghana that she witnessed children working long hours, carrying heavy loads on their heads, for less than $1 a day. She knew that she couldn’t just be a bystander, witnessing the ills of streetism—a common practice in Ghana where children are forced to spend most of their time outside their homes, engaging in menial income-generating activities in order to survive; oftentimes having to sleep on the rough streets. Hyde, day in and day out, would travel to the marketplace and approach children saying, “Let me pay you for a day’s work, and in exchange, you allow me to teach you how to start your own business.” It was there that she took her skills as an educator and former child psychologist to start a movement. She set out on a mission of “bridging the gap between poverty and prosperity” by creating Aim Higher Africa. According to Hyde, the goal is simple, “to build a dynamic network of Youngpreneurs that create sustainable and scalable businesses.”

 

Hyde sat down with Black Enterprise to discuss how in less than three years, she and her team at Aim Higher Africa have started over 500 small businesses for former street kids—that now employ over 2,000 youth across the continent of Africa.

 

BE: How long have you been in business?

Peace: A little over three years now.

 

BE: How have you used the business of education to empower the next generation?

Peace:  When I relocated to Africa to pursue acting, I worked as a consultant for an international school in Ghana to pay the bills. My role as a consultant was to ensure that teachers, children, and parents have rigorous and engaging experience that better prepare students for university, business, life, and beyond. Giving students and schools the structure they needed to strengthen the quality of education as a whole, was very fulfilling and ultimately led to the creation of Aim Higher Consulting.

 

BE: How has the power of education changed your life?

Peace:  I always knew I wanted to make an impact and I have always seen education as a powerful tool for social change. Education transforms the lives of youth living in extreme poverty. When you see someone begin to understand concepts that you or I take for granted and how those concepts—like literacy or numeracy—opens up a whole new world for them, it’s a phenomenal experience. I now focus more resources on using education to develop the right mindset for youth to achieve their fullest potential.

 

BE: What unique challenge(s) have you faced in breaking stereotypes?

Peace:  One of the biggest stumbling blocks for women is the power of negative perception. Even though we have come a long way, there is still a strong male chauvinistic culture in Africa and most parts of the world. No matter how much a woman achieves, it is still not enough unless she is married. And when she is married and successful, it is still not enough unless she has children. Women are simply meant to play a type of role and unfortunately being a “mogul” is just not good enough. I’ve fought for the financial inclusion of women in business and am working to bridge the gender gap for men and women. Through my More Than A Woman initiative, we’ve provided about $350,000 to women-owned businesses.

 

BE: How is the work that you do a form of activism?

Peace:  At Aim Higher Africa, we created an initiative to address ‘streetism’ in Ghana. There are an estimated 25,000 street children in the greater Accra area alone. These children are exposed to all sorts of dangerous conditions like abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, stealing for food and basic survival. We reach out to these same children and give them the tools necessary to embark on their entrepreneurial journey. We create campaigns reaching government and state institutions that have astonishing [results]. Today, we have created over 500 small businesses, which provide employment to over 2,000 youth across Africa.

 

BE: What are three tips for bridging the gap between technology and learning in impoverished communities?

Peace:  First, we must address the issue of accessibility to finances—financial institutions should focus on providing financial literacy by partnering with microfinance companies who can facilitate programs that incorporate technology in the learning programs.

Second, there must be resources readily available—products that facilitate the incorporation of IT in learning. Organizations can donate old computers and telecommunications services to local communities that bridge the gap between technology and learning—like smartphones and internet access.

More importantly, there must be accessibility to human capital—providing the right human resource training in impoverished communities.

Once the issue of accessibility is solved, it becomes extremely easy to deliver any tech-led learning program, in any impoverished community.

 

BE: What legacy do you want to leave with your work?

Peace:  There is an old African proverb, “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” I want to leave a legacy of someone who fought to make an impact and show the youth in Africa and all over the world that they can achieve their fullest potential no matter what life throws at them.

 

BE: Who inspires you?

Peace:  The work of Oby Ezekwesili; from speaking up to the Nigerian government when over 200 girls got abducted by terrorists to launching the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, her work has played a key role in how I perceive the importance of taking action. In a country plagued with corruption, she stood for what was right and caused the world to pay attention.

 

In her role as host of Forbes AfricaTV’s, My Worst Day with Peace Hyde, Hyde has learned that the most successful business moguls all have insurmountable odds to overcome. By blending her roots in education with her passion for media, giving, and entrepreneurship, Peace Hyde is using her voice to change the globe one ‘Youngpreneur’ at a time. By giving them the tools, resources and capital to start, grow, and sustain viable businesses, Hyde is living her life’s motto of helping people understand and realize that, “So long as they trust the process, put their minds to it, and never quit, they can create whatever future they want for themselves and their families”—one business at a time.

 

Click here to see what inspires Peace Hyde.

For more on Peace Hyde, check out her bio here.

Follow Peace Hyde on social media:

Twitter: @peac_hy

Instagram: @peac_hy

FB: Peace Hyde

SnapChat: Peace Hyde


Crystal I. Berger is the author of “Be Extraordinary: Claiming a Life of Purpose, Passion and Prosperity.” She’s a motivational speaker, host, and producer/writer. Check out her podcast “Extraordinary” on FOX News Radio. Crystal writes for FOX News Opinions and FOX News Magazine in addition to being a fill-in host for Joy In Our Town on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Follow Crystal @cbinspires and hashtag #BeEXTRA and #BEInspired always!

OPM (Other People’s Money) Funding Strategies for Tech

funding

Learn how savvy minority tech entrepreneurs accelerate past early funding constraints; sourcing cash from customers, lenders, and investors

Minority business ownership in tech growth industries hovers around 4% nationwide. It’s a stat indicating a growing “innovation gap”—compounded by insufficient liquidity and limited debt or equity funding. These and other persistent factors inhibit tech entrepreneurship from spreading widely throughout communities of color.

Growth Accelerators such as Minority Venture Partners Inc. (MVP) were launched to address this innovation lag, providing advanced entrepreneurial training and comprehensive startup support to minority and women-led firms. MVP is, however, a departure from traditional accelerators in that the program doesn’t make direct investments into its participants. Instead, the accelerator treats limited capital as a “given,” encouraging each team to ideate around their respective funding shortfall. This includes doubling down on “biz-dev” fundamentals, such as selling to big business or marketing to a niche. These efforts ultimately strengthen  each participant’s ability to secure OPM (“Other People’s Money”) from non-institutional sources.

If you’re an aspiring minority tech entrepreneur looking to similarly innovate past early funding constraints, consider MVP’s top three (3) strategies for sourcing requisite cash from customers, lenders, and investors:

Fish in a bigger pond.

MVP’s participants develop mobile, social, and digital tech innovations, but are often too young to attract institutional funding. These teams revisit their essential business model, which includes shifting from B2C to B2B customers. The strategic assumption is that the central technology they’ve created offers significant and equal value to corporate clientele. The result is larger receipts, higher margins, and reduced capital requirements for entering the market.

Time your ask.

Research suggests minority and women tech founders share common startup experiences. This includes, but is not limited to: bootstrapping, heavy use of credit, and frequent borrowing rounds from friends and family. Also, 80% of new businesses don’t qualify for bank loan products. Timing the ask means painting the right portrait, at the right time, and for the right audience—the lending institution. Before giving the bank your best pitch, build an asset portfolio that includes elements banks like to see: cash, receivables, and inventory (where applicable). You’ll ultimately improve your business profile as a good lending risk and gain leverage with competing micro-lenders offering friendlier borrowing terms.

Sell the future.

Angel investors and VC’s are always on the hunt for startups that project as home runs. Selling the future entails communicating the best financial picture of your business along with a reasonable timeline for investor ROI. TAM, or total addressable market, is also a big selling point appealing to investors. Many seek first-mover opportunities in industries having the size, outlook, and potential for lucrative upside.

As funding prospects go, customers, lenders, and investors possess unique drivers for parting with their hard-earned cash. Your job as an emerging minority tech founder is to find out what their “get” is and sell it effectively. Doing so can improve your ability to attract other people’s money (institutional or otherwise) and extend your startup’s lifespan.

 

OPM (Other People’s Money) Funding Strategies for Tech

funding

Learn how savvy minority tech entrepreneurs accelerate past early funding constraints; sourcing cash from customers, lenders, and investors

Minority business ownership in tech growth industries hovers around 4% nationwide. It’s a stat indicating a growing “innovation gap”—compounded by insufficient liquidity and limited debt or equity funding. These and other persistent factors inhibit tech entrepreneurship from spreading widely throughout communities of color.

Growth Accelerators such as Minority Venture Partners Inc. (MVP) were launched to address this innovation lag, providing advanced entrepreneurial training and comprehensive startup support to minority and women-led firms. MVP is, however, a departure from traditional accelerators in that the program doesn’t make direct investments into its participants. Instead, the accelerator treats limited capital as a “given,” encouraging each team to ideate around their respective funding shortfall. This includes doubling down on “biz-dev” fundamentals, such as selling to big business or marketing to a niche. These efforts ultimately strengthen  each participant’s ability to secure OPM (“Other People’s Money”) from non-institutional sources.

If you’re an aspiring minority tech entrepreneur looking to similarly innovate past early funding constraints, consider MVP’s top three (3) strategies for sourcing requisite cash from customers, lenders, and investors:

Fish in a bigger pond.

MVP’s participants develop mobile, social, and digital tech innovations, but are often too young to attract institutional funding. These teams revisit their essential business model, which includes shifting from B2C to B2B customers. The strategic assumption is that the central technology they’ve created offers significant and equal value to corporate clientele. The result is larger receipts, higher margins, and reduced capital requirements for entering the market.

Time your ask.

Research suggests minority and women tech founders share common startup experiences. This includes, but is not limited to: bootstrapping, heavy use of credit, and frequent borrowing rounds from friends and family. Also, 80% of new businesses don’t qualify for bank loan products. Timing the ask means painting the right portrait, at the right time, and for the right audience—the lending institution. Before giving the bank your best pitch, build an asset portfolio that includes elements banks like to see: cash, receivables, and inventory (where applicable). You’ll ultimately improve your business profile as a good lending risk and gain leverage with competing micro-lenders offering friendlier borrowing terms.

Sell the future.

Angel investors and VC’s are always on the hunt for startups that project as home runs. Selling the future entails communicating the best financial picture of your business along with a reasonable timeline for investor ROI. TAM, or total addressable market, is also a big selling point appealing to investors. Many seek first-mover opportunities in industries having the size, outlook, and potential for lucrative upside.

As funding prospects go, customers, lenders, and investors possess unique drivers for parting with their hard-earned cash. Your job as an emerging minority tech founder is to find out what their “get” is and sell it effectively. Doing so can improve your ability to attract other people’s money (institutional or otherwise) and extend your startup’s lifespan.

 

Meet The Game Changing Founder Of The Wealth Factory

Angel RichAngel Rich (Image: File)

Angel Rich is looking to build a financial literacy ecosystem, as the co-founder and CEO of The Wealth Factory Inc. The Washington, D.C.-based firm designs financial literacy and workforce development education technology games. The system walks users from birth to retirement in 12 interactive modules to exceed the Personal Finance Common Core Standards, tracking individual performance in real-time. Each module simulates a standard, such as budgeting, saving, investing, credit management, banking, auto financing, financial aid, taxes, real estate, entrepreneurship, academic planning, and career readiness.

Rich, along with co-founder Courtney Keen, started out with an online game called Credit Stacker. It simulates a credit reporting and scoring system to help students better understand how to use credit wisely. The program also allows teachers to create custom learning experiences for each student. They have since turned it into a mobile app. The  goal is to release the next 15 levels of Credit Stacker, and implement it seamlessly into everyday life.

The Wealth Factory was named the ninth best ed-tech company of 2015, by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.  It won a $10,000 small business grant from Industrial Bank, the oldest and largest African American-owned commercial bank in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. region. Earlier this year, it also snagged a $10,000 grant from the JPMorgan Chase, to further develop its financial literacy mobile apps. In addition, The Wealth Factory was the $10,000 People’s Choice winner at the 43North business pitch competition this fall.

A Rich Background in Finance and Tech

 

Rich was raised in Kingman Park, Washington, D.C. to a family that worked in life insurance sales. The Hampton University graduate studied at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. In 2009, Forbes recognized Rich for winning Prudential’s National Case competition and selling her groundbreaking gen-Y marketing plan. As a global market research analyst for Prudential, Rich has conducted over 70 financial behavior modification studies. Rich resigned to start The Wealth Factory as part of the Startup Weekend NEXT pilot cohort, under the author of Startup’s Owner’s Manual, Bob Dorf, in January 2013.

Today, The Wealth Factory’s mobile game is available on Google Play and Apple, having received 23,000 downloads since its launch in July. It’s available in four languages and in 40 countries. The app is free, but Rich says that the revenue model is to generate money on the back-end from advertisers in addition to contracts, including one with the Department of Health and Human Services. The Wealth Factory is also the official financial literacy tech partner company of the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking.

“While I keep up to date with the current mobile games in the market,we are financial planners. I started my career with PNC in their wealth management group, where I oversaw $300 million. I also spent time in the charter school network, creating and  implementing curriculum,” says Autumn Leatham, chief strategy officer.

Leatham says the gaming aspect came about because, “We realized [that] kids today live on their phones.”  So, this became a way for kids to “learn something and have fun, at the same time.”

$300M for Humans on Mars, Robots, and Fighting Solar Storms

Mars

It’s no secret that President Obama is a blerd—a big-time sci-fi buff and a huge proponent of advancing STEM. He just served as guest editor of popular geek ‘zine Wired‘s November issue.

President Obama launched a number of STEM-related initiatives and at his most recent event, the White House Frontiers Conference, revealed specifics on how the United States will push technology and innovation.

At the conference, held in Pittsburgh last week, the Obama administration announced that $300 million would go toward science, technology, and innovation. The investment is “to develop the industries of the future and harness science and technology to help address important challenges,” according to a press release issued by The White House.

Here are some ways the $300M will get applied:

  • $70M to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for brain research to make breakthroughs in diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; traumatic brain injury; and depression.
  • $16M for the Precision Medical Initiative, a program started by President Obama for healthcare innovation.
  • $165M in both public and private funds to support cities’ use of data and technology for solutions to issues such as traffic congestion.
  • $50M in federal funds for small-satellite technology that allows for widespread, high-speed internet access and continually updated imagery of Earth.

Some other projects announced included the administration’s upcoming release of a report on preparing for the future of artificial intelligence and development of technology that will allow a human mission to Mars by the 2030s.

Additionally, an Executive Order was announced to coordinate efforts to prepare the country for space weather events such as solar storms.

The Frontiers Conference was co-hosted by the White House, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. It brought together over 700 thought leaders in business, technology, philanthropy, and innovation to meet on five subjects (or “frontiers”):

  • Personal: Innovations in healthcare and medicine.
  • Local: Building smart communities, and investing in open data and the Internet of Things.
  • National: Harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, automation, robotics and other advanced technology.
  • Global: Accelerating clean energy and developing innovation to company climate change.
  • Interplanetary: Further focus on space exploration including missions to Mars.

 

 

How Social Good Can Fix Business Challenges

Social Good

I am a firm believer in putting social good at the heart of any business I develop. As business people, it’s our duty to ensure that all of what we do is focused on improving the world, making it a better place for current and future generations.

Beyond the idea that it’s just good business practice, people are starting to realize that social good has an objective. It’s leading to more innovative practices that are generating solutions to long held social problems. The more I see social good taking place, the more it ignites my own passion for innovation and helping others.

Social Innovation Drives Social Solutions

This passion has led to what’s being called “social innovation,” in which creativity helps create solutions. One example includes Teach for America, founded by Wendy Kopp, which puts recent university graduates into teaching positions at the country’s worst schools to help turn them around. Another example includes Indiegogo, which provides a way to start fundraising campaigns in order to take creative ideas to the next level.

The idea here is that there is powerful, positive energy at work when people think of ways to address critical social demands. The result is an environment where more ideas are shared and where everyone can view things differently.

It’s About The Human Dimension, Not the Balance Sheet

Many of the social problems being addressed today have been present for decades. It’s an example of how we can learn to think differently and look at long standing problems differently. This, in turn, can be applied to other issues that aren’t necessarily social ills.

For example, service innovation and design innovation focus on social good while also addressing larger business issues. By discovering ways to change service delivery in a way that acknowledges the human aspect, service innovation provides services designed for the betterment of those receiving them rather than the bottom line on a balance sheet.

Read more at www.businesscollective.com…

Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and a contributor at Forbes.com and Entrepreneur.com. He is co-founder of Influence People.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

How Social Good Can Fix Business Challenges

Social Good

I am a firm believer in putting social good at the heart of any business I develop. As business people, it’s our duty to ensure that all of what we do is focused on improving the world, making it a better place for current and future generations.

Beyond the idea that it’s just good business practice, people are starting to realize that social good has an objective. It’s leading to more innovative practices that are generating solutions to long held social problems. The more I see social good taking place, the more it ignites my own passion for innovation and helping others.

Social Innovation Drives Social Solutions

This passion has led to what’s being called “social innovation,” in which creativity helps create solutions. One example includes Teach for America, founded by Wendy Kopp, which puts recent university graduates into teaching positions at the country’s worst schools to help turn them around. Another example includes Indiegogo, which provides a way to start fundraising campaigns in order to take creative ideas to the next level.

The idea here is that there is powerful, positive energy at work when people think of ways to address critical social demands. The result is an environment where more ideas are shared and where everyone can view things differently.

It’s About The Human Dimension, Not the Balance Sheet

Many of the social problems being addressed today have been present for decades. It’s an example of how we can learn to think differently and look at long standing problems differently. This, in turn, can be applied to other issues that aren’t necessarily social ills.

For example, service innovation and design innovation focus on social good while also addressing larger business issues. By discovering ways to change service delivery in a way that acknowledges the human aspect, service innovation provides services designed for the betterment of those receiving them rather than the bottom line on a balance sheet.

Read more at www.businesscollective.com…

Murray Newlands is an entrepreneur, investor, business advisor and a contributor at Forbes.com and Entrepreneur.com. He is co-founder of Influence People.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

Create Your Own Curriculum: 4 Free Courses for the Creative

creative

Fall brings about the heightened awareness of starting over or even starting something new. Otherwise known as the back-to-school season, fall is the perfect time to take a glimpse of your progress for the year. Are you accomplishing the goals you set in January? Are you where you had hoped to be?

With a host of websites offering free classes from instructors all over the world, we have a chance to clinch a few new skills before 2017 hits. Here are a few classes that can help the aspiring creative or the veteran revisit some basics:

1. Creativity, Innovation, and Change, Coursera

 

“Creativity, innovation, and change require a unique mindset and collection of mental tools.”

Created by The Pennsylvania State University, this course challenges students to expand their thinking in creating solutions for change. Taught by a host of teachers across engineering and design, the course requires a commitment of three to five hours per week.

2. Digital Storytelling: Filmmaking for the Web, Future Learn

 

The University of Birmingham, the BBC Academy, and Creative Skillset have combined forces to create this free, four-week course.

With a goal to help students develop short films for digital platforms, the course covers all aspects of production, from research to the final edit. It also examines filmmaking theory and practice, and how they connect to create meaningful stories. The instructors address other issues including critical thinking, story structure, style, genre, ethics, legalities, practical techniques for camera, and sound and lighting.

3. Graphic Design 101, Udemy

 

Have a little bit of experience with design tools, but lack the right skills? This course targets students who have an interest in deepening their knowledge of graphic design. The instructor aims to show how good design is often concept-driven, and why specific design media needs to communicate in a timely fashion. The highly rated course is considered great for those considering a career in design, or for those looking to gain skills for a side hustle.

4. Start Writing Fiction, Future Learn

 

This course focuses on creating characters, an important skill in storytelling. Established writers discuss how they started writing and the importance of rituals like maintaining a journal. Additionally, students will learn how to develop ideas, different approaches to research, and different methods for how to turn events into a plot. Bonus? Students can review and comment on the work of other writers and receive feedback on their own stories.

We’re not stopping with the creatives. Up next? Some insightful info classes that aspiring entrepreneurs can use to create their own curriculum.

Trump Versus Clinton on STEM

trump

It’s been and will continue to be a very ugly, nasty Presidential election year, up until Election Day. Knowing where each candidate stands on the issues is as important as voting. A new report compares Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s position on technology, side-by-side.

A new report compares Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s position on technology, side-by-side. The report was created by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading U.S. science and technology policy think tank.

Here is the breakdown of both candidates’ stances on technology and innovation, according to the report:

On Innovation

 

Clinton has spoken about establishing and expanding public-private partnerships to drive innovation and widely share its benefits.

Trump has been mostly silent on the issue of innovation.

On Technology Regulations

 

Clinton supports some regulations, including net neutrality—or keeping the Internet open—and those issues surrounding data privacy.

Trump’s only positions on tech regulations are with regard to China. He wants the government to be tougher with China on issues including intellectual property theft.

On Immigrants With High-Tech Skills

 

Clinton would create a startup visa program, allowing entrepreneurs in tech sectors to create companies and jobs in the United States. She has supported H-1B visas in the past, and she has proposed raising the number of visas awarded.

Trump is opposed to H-1B visas. He has stated he is pro high-skilled immigration, but he has also proposed blocking Muslims from entering the United States, which would potentially ban some highly skilled workers in the process.

On Science Funding

 

Clinton would expand the National Science Foundation iCorps program.

Trump wants to redirect funding to other projects, such as rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, and he is against funding scientific research or space missions.

On STEM Education

 

Clinton supports cities and wants to start establishing STEM-oriented high schools.

Trump said there is no shortage of STEM workers just because some STEM graduates can’t find jobs in their field.

You can read the ITIF’s report in its entirety.

Dr. Kamau Bobb Talks Research and Challenges in STEM Education

BlackEnterprise.com: How has your work impacted outcomes for your clients, both nationally and internationally?

Dr. Kamau Bobb: As a program officer at the National Science Foundation, my role is to help facilitate the direction of scholarly research. As a whole, the foundation is committed to improving student achievement in STEM education for the United States. My focus is on developing an equitable landscape for rigorous, high-quality CS education. One of my primary interests is merging the research community that focuses on education broadly with the CS education community.

The CS education community is comprised mostly of university faculty in computer science. Their interests in diversity and broadening participation are leading them to increase focus on issues of identity, stereotype threats, and the negative, quiet forces that result in students of color and women not persisting in CS. However, the broader education research community studies that work more directly. It focuses on the factors that contribute to both the success and failure of our most vulnerable student populations.

Merging the collective research power of these two communities is a goal of mine, yet the impact of my effort remains to be seen. The power and sincerity of these two research communities leaves me fully optimistic that they will produce useful insights with and for our young people while working together.

What are the most significant challenges facing STEM education and the STEM workforce?

The most significant challenge facing STEM education and the workforce is the capacity of the U.S. educational system to produce interested and qualified participants in the STEM enterprise. Here is where the racial and socio-economic challenges facing the nation are most glaring.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics National Report Card, there are some damning realities that significantly challenge STEM education and the STEM workforce. In 2015, only 33% of all eighth grade students in the U.S. were proficient or better in mathematics. Only 13% of black eighth graders and 19% of Hispanic eighth graders were proficient or better in mathematics, which is in contrast to 43% of white students and 61% of Asian students. For students who live in poverty and qualify for the National School Lunch Program, only 18% were proficient in eighth grade mathematics.

According to the College Board, only 16% of black students are college or career ready by the time they take the SAT in eleventh grade. For Hispanic students, 23% are ready. For Asian and white students, 61% and 53%, respectively, are ready for higher education or to take on meaningful work. This landscape is a problem.

This data is certainly grim and outlines a bimodal education system that simply does not work for many students of color and students who live in poverty. Looking at it another way, if we are to believe the College Board, approximately 84% of black young people who have spent 12 years in school are not ready for college and are certainly not ready for a career in a STEM field. This reality is nothing new, yet it remains the primary challenge facing STEM education and the workforce in the United States.

STEM fields are not immune to the national challenges that exist at the intersection of race and class. The weight of the challenges heaped upon students of color who are also poor is unfathomable. Lifting that weight off the backs of our young people is the most pressing responsibility and significant challenge facing STEM educators, policy advocates, the tech sector, and the nation itself.

Karima Mariama-Arthur is Founder and CEO of  WordSmithRapport, a boutique consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter @WSRapport.