A recent Boston Globe article talked about kids walking the past buildings in Kendall Square, home of thousands of scientist and engineers, everyday without knowing what’s going on inside. Needless to say, there will be no increase in STEM participation by simply walking past and seeing the artifacts of growth – youth must be immersed in the culture.
innovators4purpose (iFp) is in the most innovative biz on the planet. We are laser focused on changing the narrative from kids seeing the artifacts of growth (i.e. Kendall Square Buildings) to experiencing & participating in the growth. We bring together the most creative youth and the most analytical ones, especially those residing in less served areas. We create environments leveraging our framework built on Design Thinking, Character Development and Professional Identity. Then watch as they unlock unique innovative solutions to problems that are of most interest to them.
Thru these immersive experiences iFp’s youth begin developing a “sense of being a part” of the innovation community. This “sense of belonging” becomes an intrinsic motivator that sparks the desire to learn skills & tools necessary to participate in our innovation-driven economy. Our long-term vision is to reignite the dreams of our youth, to rebuild strong positive influences in broken families and to re-inspire those who have fallen behind economically.
Creative Doers – Creativity, curiosity and imagination combined with collaboration and critical thinking are highly desired skills in today’s economy. Unfortunately, not enough students are being exposed to these concepts especially amongst youth from less served areas. Our Creative Doers program helps these youth develop those skills by leveraging the innovation process. However, that’s just the beginning. Innovation is used as a tool to help them see beyond their current reality. The ultimate goal is for them to internalize the process transforming it into a way of being. This creates students who are catalysts of change or Creative Doers who change, improve and leave their mark on the world.
In August of 2013, several long time friends, William Bagley, Michael Dawson, James Grigsby, Edward Johnson, Marvin Thomas and Dana Thompson began collaborating on the next steps in our lives. They all have much in common. Generously speaking each had modest upbringings. While enduring the same pressures many of their childhood friends faced, each managed to avoid the traps many succumbed to. Everyone has successfully navigated the academic waters with 6 Bachelor and 4 Master degrees amongst them. They also found “success” in their respective fields – 1 is a VP at a Fortune 500 company, 2 are retired Air Force officers, a business strategist, an associate warden and entrepreneur complete the ranks. Interestingly conversations around our purpose [our reason for being] out numbered the next million dollar business ideas.
Over the years, we have worked together in various capacities ranging from church to nonprofits to entrepreneurial ventures. Among our many shared values is a passion for giving back. Our conversations often drifted back to the early 90’s, when William, Dana and others founded a nonprofit to encourage minority kids to pursue math and science based careers. Michael and James were early members. This was STEM long before the acronym existed. So, starting an new initiative addressing the issues of today seemed inevitable.
Hopelessness was a consistent theme that came up in our discussions. The 2008 recession took a major toll on 45-60 year old group. Many were trapped in upside down mortgages, were underemployed or unemployed. The younger generation appeared to have forgotten the meaning of responsibility. The number of young men personally known that were unemployed, under-educated, fathers to multiple children from multiple mothers or worse yet in jail was alarming. All of this was compounded by the interconnectedness of these issues.
Four pressing themes were idenitified:
- Inadequate Education
- Lack of Responsibility in Families
- Shortage of Job Opportunities
- and an Extremely High Crime Rate
iFp was incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit in March 2014.
Co-Founders: William Bagley, Michael Dawson, Edward Johnson, Dana Thompson
Our initial plan was to attack all four fronts starting with rebuilding positive influences in Families. However, in August 2014, it was decided to focus all of our efforts on education. Although a long cycle, education has the capacity to address all of our pressing concerns. After all, it is the asset that opened opportunities for us. Donna Dawson, a long-time Art Educator, came on board to lead our educational initiative.
Innovators for Purpose
innovators4purpose (iFp) provides leadership, designs learning experiences and develops tools to address – How Might We help youth, especially those residing in underserved / under-resourced communities, develop the skills and drive to become a part of the innovation economy.