After the uprising, there was a wave of social justice driven solutions that were not solutions at all. Many of the solutions proposed by activist, nonprofit executives, foundations, and community members were focused on the social advancement of underserved groups instead of basic human needs. Basic human needs include food, shelter, safety, access to quality education and employment opportunities. Many of the funded programs failed to educate people on how to leverage and develop their talents and skill set to meet their own needs and be self-sufficient.
Entrepreneurship was not my original plan, but when companies wouldn’t give me a chance, the internet did. Learning how to develop and leverage my talents and skills is how I have made a way for myself when there was no way. I decided to repurpose the business model from my e-commerce based apparel brand for youth artists and entrepreneurs, and teach them a creative way to move through the world.
- Develop an e-commerce platform that could also serve as a hands on learning tool
- Create self-paced learning activities that youth can engage on their own time
- Surround youth with experienced professionals outside of the nonprofit industry
- Provide mentoring and coaching on personal and professional development
- Developed and managed e-commerce platform as a real time, real world live learning tool
- Created profile for each participant to add and manage their own product inventory
- Organized group session to teach e-commerce, product design, and merchandising basics
- Utilized pop-up shops as a real world live learning environment for participants to practice product and sales pitching
- Established collaborative partnerships across local and national impact investment communities, foundations, fellowships and commercial businesses
- Required each participant to meet with at least one advisor to continue participating
- Increased sales every quarter during the three years the project ran
- 5 out of 7 youth participants launched their own online apparel store before the conclusion of the program
- 3 out of 7 youth went on to be hired at local nonprofits
- Participants are able to add Baltimore’s gifted to their resume before finishing highschool or college.
- Received national recognition and earned several awards including the Warnock Foundation Social innovator of the Year in 2017
Learn more baltimoresgifted.com