Atlanta-based edtech startup uses pop songs to tackle students’ fear of math
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A little girl doing homework and listening to music

By Erin Schilling of the Business Journals (Atlanta) 

Marcus Blackwell Jr. always struggled with math in school. Instead of algebra equations, he preferred practicing gospel and classical jazz music on the piano. But during his sophomore year at Morehouse College, he realized just how intertwined the two subjects are.

“You cannot do music without understanding math, whether you’re talking about rhythm, reading sheet music, time signatures — all math,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell overcame his intimidation of numbers when he saw its similarity with music, so much so that he pivoted to a math degree.

Once equipped with the numerical expertise to match his musical acumen, Blackwell founded Make Music Count, an education tech startup app that uses a virtual keyboard and popular songs to teach students math equations.

‘Educational reform’

The app has equations that coincide with curriculum for K-12th grades. Students solve an equation at the top of the screen to find out which note they need to play next to complete the song. Blackwell included all types of genres, including the latest pop and hip-hop songs, so students would be excited to learn the notes.

“We believe that part of the reason why students aren’t performing is because they don’t see themselves in lessons,” Blackwell said. “So our approach of using songs that are familiar to them — that they hear on the radio and listen to at home — is a way to increase retention and engagement in learning.”

Blackwell recently received $50,000 from Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, which he said he’ll use for marketing and advertisements for the app. He just completed Cox Enterprise’s Social Impact Accelerator Powered By Techstars program this year to better his business model.

Blackwell has a national partnership with the Boys and Girls Club as well as local school district partnerships. The app can be used in either music or math classrooms, he said, but one of his biggest challenges has been integrating the technology into school curriculums.

“We’re talking about educational reform,” Blackwell said. “People that create curriculum don’t look like me in most cases, so it’s been tough sometimes to get people to give us a chance.”

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This Year’s Most Educated Cities in America
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3D illustration of USA and North America from space at night with city lights showing human activity in United States

Cities want to attract highly educated workers to fuel their economic growth and tax revenues. Higher levels of education tend to lead to higher salaries.

Plus, the more that graduates earn, the more tax dollars they contribute over time, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In turn, educated people want to live somewhere where they will get a good return on their educational investment.

People also tend to marry others of the same educational level, which means that cities that already have a large educated population may be more attractive to people with degrees.

Not all highly educated people will flock to the same areas, though. Some may prefer to have many people with similar education levels around them for socializing and career connections. Others may want to be a big fish in a little pond. Not every city will provide the same quality of life to those with higher education, either. In addition, the most educated cities could shift in the near future depending on how well cities deal with the current COVID-19 crisis and its impact on schooling.

To determine where the most educated Americans are putting their degrees to work, WalletHub compared the 150 largest metropolitan statistical areas, or MSAs, across 11 key metrics. Our data set ranges from the share of adults aged 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher to the quality of the public-school system to the gender education gap.

Most Educated Cities in USA

1          Ann Arbor, MI

2          San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

3          Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

4          Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

5          San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

6          Madison, WI

7          Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

8          Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

9          Austin-Round Rock, TX

10        Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

11        Colorado Springs, CO

12        Raleigh, NC

13        Provo-Orem, UT

14        Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

15        Trenton, NJ

16        Portland-South Portland, ME

17        Tallahassee, FL

18        Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

19        Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

20        San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

21        Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY

22        Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

23        Lansing-East Lansing, MI

24        Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

25        Lexington-Fayette, KY

Source: wallethub.com

Couple Shares Passion for Careers in Medical Field Through Educating, Entertaining Young People
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LMS Keena's standing alonside four kindergarden students and another female teacher. Bith teachers wearing lab coats. Children holding completion certificates in hands.

It’s no wonder that Keena Duncan of Southhaven, Mississippi fell in love with the Little Medical School franchise concept. LMS is the leading developer of specialized curriculum and interactive resources for children ages 4-16. The program allows kids to explore the benefits of careers in healthcare while simultaneously get educated and entertained.

Duncan knows firsthand what a rewarding experience it can be. Duncan’s husband, Dr. Ulric Duncan, is a gastroenterologist in Southaven. Keena Duncan, who runs the Little Medical School franchise there was a teacher in the public-school system and the Practice Administrator in a specialty Gastroenterology Medical Clinic owned by the couple.

Both Duncan’s have a passion for medicine and a desire to help young people aspire to medical careers. After they attended a Little Medical School program, they realized it was the perfect vehicle to provide such an opportunity. Since September 2017, Little Medical School of the Mid-South has been providing its STEM-based curriculum (science, technology, engineering, math) through games, crafts and interactive demonstrations at schools, hospitals, daycare centers, birthday parties, summer camps and more throughout northern Mississippi and Memphis.

“Owning a medical clinic sparked an interest in teaching children the importance of knowing how their bodies work and how to access careers in healthcare,” said 58-year-old Keena, a Memphis resident. “I taught kindergarten in the public schools and homeschooled our three children. Now, Little Medical School allows me to continue to inspire and teach.”

LMS's Keena standing behind resource table  smiling
Keena Duncan of Southhaven, Mississippi at her resource table for Little Medical School

Little Medical School also offers a wide-ranging curriculum of virtual camps and classes. Franchise owners do not need a medical or teaching background. Little Medical School is a mobile business with low overhead that can be operated as a home-based business. The child-services and educational franchise industries combined represent an $11 billion segment that employs more than 285,000 people in more than 130,000 businesses.

About Little Medical School

Little Medical School (LMS) was created and founded by Dr. Mary Mason in 2010 and began franchising in 2015. LMS has evolved to meet the demand for high quality STEM based health awareness focused curriculum There are currently 41 franchises in the U.S. states and 16 International franchisees, along with five company owned locations.  Each Little Medical School franchise is independently owned and community focused. For information visit https://www.littlemedicalschool.com. For franchise information visit https://www.littlemedicalschool.com/franchise-opportunities.

Entrepreneur Makes History as Founder of One of the First Black Woman-Owned Online K-12 Virtual Schools
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Dana Delane Williams headshot
Meet Dana Delane-Williams, the owner and founder of American High School, an online virtual school for grades K-12 that has been leading the way in online education in the U.S. for over 18 years.
 

She has made history as one of the only African American women in the country to accomplish this and has committed herself to revolutionizing education to ensure that she gives kids the minimum credentials they need to succeed in life – their high school diploma. 

As the effects of the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to rage on, almost all areas of everyday life have been changed. This truth has led to a paradigm shift in the way we work, interact, and educate students in the U.S. and worldwide. The traditional is now untraditional, with the old path, replaced by a new direction, our new norm.

How it all began

Dana began her foray into teaching classes online while she was an instructor at the University of Kentucky in 1996. It was in 2002 that she created her very first online high school for grades 9-12 with the 24 credits required to graduate, and catering to the homeschool market.

Dana has continued her efforts in creating new and innovative educational pathways since 2002. She has since expanded the school offerings to over 350 online courses to include an accredited online middle school for grades 6-8 and an online elementary school for grades K-5. She went on to create an online adult high school diploma program for those adults who needed to earn their high school diploma for work or college.

She even received NCAA approval, which allows student-athletes who plan to play sports in college on scholarship to attend her NCAA approved school. She continued to innovate and created a Dual Diploma program, in 2016, for her international partner schools/organization’s that allows students to earn a U.S. High School Diploma along with their home country diploma.

A great option for students and other institutions

American High School (AHS) is a comprehensive online/virtual learning school that delivers accredited, affordable, college preparatory, Honors/AP, Gifted, virtual reality, adult education, and career-based online education for Grades K-12 to students throughout the U.S. and Internationally.

Additionally, the school’s online/virtual platform allows public or private schools or organizations, the ability to create their own virtual schools or programs without a significant initial investment. It’s literally a virtual school in a box that can be deployed within 7-14 days.

AHS’s proprietary curriculum, learning management systems, and educational services are designed to facilitate individualized and personalized learning for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. AHS works with over 150 plus public or private schools throughout the United States and in over twenty-seven countries worldwide.

American High School offers the following in online education:

* Provides an excellent, well-rounded, proven online/virtual curriculum for Grades K-12.

* Fully accredited by leading agencies such as Cognia (formerly AdvancED and SACS). AdvancED is the unified organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). As well as accredited by AI (Accreditation International).

* Students earn a high school diploma online from an accredited school. The diploma is fully-recognized upon graduation.

* Individual Course Program allows students to make up credits within 6 – 8 weeks and graduate on time. Includes online credit recovery and online summer school for grades 6-8.

* A diverse student population participates in the AHS programs including athletes, gifted, homeschoolers, actors/actresses, Olympians, traditional, at-risk, remedial, and/or those experiencing problems in the traditional classroom.

Students can enroll online at AmericanHighSchool.org or by contacting an Enrollment Specialist at 866-936-9654.

About Dana Delane-Williams: Dana is a military brat who has traveled all throughout the United States until graduation from high school in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from Georgia State University with her Bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems, and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, with her Masters in Aviation Administration.

Dana serves as the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) at American High School. She is responsible for curriculum development, organizational growth strategy, maintaining organizational culture, managing operations, R&D, sales, product development and launch, marketing, and overseas expansion.

 
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Meet Southfield Primary’s Newest Teacher: A Ten-Year-Old
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Emmanuella Mayaki tech genuis seated in school chair smiling with arms folded

At Southfield Primary School in Coventry, England, a group of nine young students attend their school’s after school coding club where they learn basic coding, CSS, and HTML.

Like most other clubs, the students are taught by an after school teacher, but unlike other kids, their teacher is only ten years old.

Emmanuella Mayaki, a tech prodigy, has just been hired by Southfield Primary School as an after-school coding teacher to teach children of her same age about the world of coding.  When she was only seven years old, Emmanuella discovered her love for programming and coding, and by age nine, she had received a diploma in multiple software programming and was deemed a professional web designer and analyst.

Along with her newfound teaching career, Mayaki has also developed an app called “Academy App,” available on Google Play, designed to help smartphone users learn about the world of graphics and code. In an interview with Face 2 Face Africa, Mayaki stated that she is continuing to advance her programming skills and is even broadening her horizons through teaching her students.

Get to Know Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA)
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Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) logo

By Aidan Currie

Hello and Happy Pride 2020! This will certainly be one of the most unusual Pride months on the books, and it’s important that we continue to find the silver linings in life and work during these tumultuous times.

I have the great pleasure of being the Executive Director at Reaching Out MBA, a nonprofit that for more than twenty years has worked to increase the influence of the LGBT+ community in business by educating, inspiring and connecting MBA students and alumni. We run programming throughout the year – including a Fellowship program that provides a minimum of $20,000 to students selected by their schools – to ensure LGBT+ MBAs connect and learn from others in business, have access to recruitment opportunities, and spaces for our community to gather and inspire each other.

Like everyone, the MBA community has been greatly impacted by COVID-19, in the short term with altered or rescinded summer internships –  and in the longer term with uncertainty in the jobs market that students will encounter upon graduation.

But here’s the good news. In these difficult times, many of our organization partners have shown outstanding leadership by quickly re-configuring what a summer internship can look like in the MBA community. This means providing interns with an opportunity to re-imagine their traditional internships and take the summer to give back by supporting a nonprofit of their choice as we manage through these difficult times.

For example, Corey Fowler, a Reaching Out Fellow completing his first year of Tepper School of Business (Carnegie Mellon University), has been able to pivot from his planned internship at Boston Consulting Group in Pittsburgh. BCG has offered Corey the opportunity to join the Reaching Out MBA team as we work to develop engaging virtual events that continue to serve the needs of our students and alumni in the wake of COVID-19.

I spoke to Corey recently about how this program came about. “Given this global crisis, BCG developed a Social Impact Ambassadorship that enables incoming summer consultants to spend their summer working with a nonprofit of their choosing instead of the traditional client experience. This allows interns to give back to organizations they care about, either through front-line service in their community or skill-based volunteerism.”

When asked why he chose Reaching Out MBA, Fowler says: “As a ROMBA Fellow, I’ve been involved with the organization since the early days of my MBA experience and have seen first-hand the impact that Reaching Out has on the LGBT+ community.  I thought long and hard about where I would have the most impact. In the end, working with Reaching Out was the best way for me to leverage my skills and personal experience to support the LGBT+ community.”

How do you hope you can make a difference in the fight against COVID 19 this summer? Says Fowler, “organizations all over the world are having to significantly rethink their operations in light of COVID-19.  I’d like to look back on this summer experience and feel proud that I used my education and skills to help an organization that has done so much for the historically marginalized LGBT+ community.  From a professional growth perspective, I am hoping to sharpen my contingency and crisis planning skills that I think will benefit me throughout my consulting career.”

We thank all of our partners who have decided to continue their support of Reaching Out MBA in these difficult times, in part by donating their human capital to help raise up nonprofits and other community organizations as we continue to serve our constituents.

UT Arlington to Give $10.6m in Student Grants
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A blue piggy bank wearing a graduation cap with stacks of coins next to it.

The University of Texas at Arlington, otherwise known as UT Arlington, will be giving its students $10.6 million in grants through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The CARES Act provided UT Arlington with more than $21 million in April. About half of this amount will be given as financial aid to UT Arlington’s students, while the other half will be used for other university-related needs.
Of the $10.6 million in grants, full-time students are eligible to receive $1000, while part-time students will be eligible to receive $500.
However, not all students will be eligible to receive these funds, such as international, undocumented, and unenrolled students, as well as students in certain online exclusive programs, who do not qualify for financial aid, or do not have a need for the money.

For students who are not qualified for the grant and need financial assistance, UT Arlington’s emergency assistance fund can be applied for here.

American Indian College Fund Names Five Tribal College Participants for $2.4 Million Cultivating Native College Student Success Program
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Native american female student with group of other international students

In order to remain sustainable, tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) located on or near Indian reservations, must recruit, complete enrollment, retain and graduate Native American students. TCUs provide affordable access to a higher education for Native students, but to build sustainable tribal communities through education, those students must also graduate. The American Indian College Fund selected five tribal colleges and universities to participate in its new 30-month Cultivating Native College Student Success Program to increase TCUs’ capacity to better recruit and work with students while increasing their sustainability as higher education institutions in the process.

Five TCUs were chosen to participate in a program that represent a diverse group of institutions with different sizes, program scopes, and program stages to create a cohort for cross-institutional support and to develop a community of practice around strategic enrollment and staff implementation strategies.

The five TCUs selected include:
• Oglala Lakota College, Kyle, South Dakota
• United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, North Dakota
• Stone Child College, Box Elder, Montana
• Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, Hayward, Wisconsin
• Salish Kootenai College, Pablo, Montana

Kelly LaChance
Kelly LaChance

The American Indian College Fund hired Kelly LaChance (a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz and descendant from the Dakubetede of Southern Oregon and the Northern California and Southern Oregon Shasta Nation) to manage the program. Ms. LaChance has devoted her education and career to American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) education with a focus on student success. Prior to joining the College Fund, she served as an Education Director and Education Specialist for two federally recognized tribes. She also served on the AIAN Advisory committee to the Oregon Department of Education, concurrently served as a Tribal Advisory Council member at three universities in AIAN student services and programming, and additionally worked as the Assistant Program Director for the AIAN teacher program at the University of Oregon. Ms. LaChance holds a bachelor’s degree from Southern Oregon University and a master’s degree in adult education and training from Colorado State University. She is currently completing a doctor of education degree in educational methodology, policy, and leadership from the University of Oregon.

About the American Indian College Fund – Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $7.72 million in scholarships to 3,900 American Indian students in 2018-19, with nearly 137,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $221.8 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit collegefund.org.

How Notre Dame Joined Forces in Times of Crisis
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man holding donated face shields at fire station

Though many of the University of Notre Dame’s facilities have temporarily closed in response to COVID-19, its Innovation Lab at the IDEA Center remains open to create fully shielded face masks for the area’s local and regional medical facilities.

It all started when the IDEA Center decided they wanted to create a prototype mask for the nearby medical facilities to do their part in fighting COVID-19. Once word of this procedure began to spread, many of the university’s colleagues across different departments and campuses stepped up to help.

Since the outbreak, Notre Dame has produced thousands of face shields to be donated to medical facilities, producing about 250 masks per day. The Innovation Lab is covering the cost of all of the supplies being used to create the masks, while others are donating their printers and time to printing masks, managing the donation front, and gathering supplies. The lab currently uses about 40 printers on loan from their colleagues, and have since produced about 3,000 masks. All of the masks, which can be easily disinfected and reused, are being distributed to medical and health facilities across the area.

Matthew Leevy, the director of the IDEA Center Innovation Lab, has been working to coordinate the printings and procedures happening across campuses, has every intention of continuing to print the masks, and intends to produce more for other healthcare facilities in the following weeks.

Medical facilities in need of these masks may contact Jessica Brookshire—senior program director in the Office of Clinical Partnerships—at jbrooksh@nd.edu.

Mellon Foundation Announces $4 Million Emergency Relief Grant to the American Indian College Fund in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
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American Indian College Fund students talking with each other

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation today announced a $4 million grant to the American Indian College Fund to support college students whose educational progress has been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) are engines of opportunity—propelled by a cadre of dedicated educators and administrators—many lack the resources needed to deploy information technology tools, student services, and other solutions at the scale needed by their students during the COVID-19 pandemic. TCUs have been disproportionately and devastatingly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to historical inequities, structural and enrollment-related challenges, and overly burdened institutional financial aid budgets. The Mellon Foundation is dedicated to supporting efforts to allocate resources and ensure that aid is delivered to students most in need.

“Tribal Colleges and Universities are central to our nation’s fabric and critical to its future. The COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the societal and structural challenges that many of these institutions have long confronted, and we are committed to doing all that we can to support them and the students they serve,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander.

Even in better times, many students at these institutions face impediments to their individual well-being and academic progress. As campuses have closed in efforts to contain the virus’s spread, undergraduate and graduate students struggle to navigate these unprecedented times.

According to the Tribal Colleges and Universities #RealCollege Survey report published this March, 29 percent of TCU student survey respondents were homeless at some point in the prior 12 months, almost 62 percent were food insecure in the prior 30 days, and 69 percent faced housing insecurity in the prior 12 months.

“The College Fund appreciates the ways that the Mellon Foundation has demonstrated leadership in its support of tribal colleges and has shown care for the well-being of our students and their families during this crisis,” said American Indian College Fund President Cheryl Crazy Bull. “Our students are not only the backbone of their families, they are our hope for the future— through their perseverance and creativity, our tribal communities will survive this pandemic and bring prosperity to our society.”

The American Indian College Fund will distribute the emergency funds to its network of tribal colleges so that they can address immediate and pressing needs related to the pandemic and provide persistence resources to support new and returning students in the summer and fall of 2020 and beyond as determined necessary. Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund is the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education. In addition to providing thousands of scholarships to Native American students, the College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations.

Members of the public may add their support by making individual contributions on the American Indian College Fund’s website.

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seeks to strengthen, promote, and defend the centrality of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse, fair, and democratic societies. To this end, our core programs support exemplary and inspiring institutions of higher education and culture. Additional information is available at mellon.org.

About the American Indian College Fund—Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $7.72 million in scholarships to 3,900 American Indian students in 2018-19, with nearly 137,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $208 million since its inception. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit www.collegefund.org.

Photo: American Indian College Fund Photo

6 ways to learn a foreign language for free while you’re sheltering in place for COVID-19
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black woman on computer coffee in hand at home

Your always-home lifestyle presents an unparalleled opportunity to expand your language skills. Why not go immersive? French radio! German podcasts! Spanish recipes for dinner!

Or, you know, just brush up. Much of the world is stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now, the best intensive language programs in the world are free:

  • Rosetta Stone. The grandfather of language companies is offering free three-month subscriptions to learn any of 22 languages.
  • Babbel. The course hub just opened up three months of free classes in a dozen languages.
  • Fable Cottage. These fun audio and video stories in French, German, Spanish, and Italian are usually locked under subscription, but are now freely accessible.
  • Conjuguemos. This teachers’ mecca of games, activities, and worksheets in seven languages (including Latin and Korean) is perfect for building an awesome curriculum of the nuts and bolts—verbs, grammar, and vocab. Free during the outbreak.
  • iCulture. Don’t miss Carnegie Learning’s immersion package of videos, articles, and songs in French, Spanish, or German, which are free through June.
  • Mango. The company provides high-speed learning in 70 languages for companies and schools. Its online language portal is freely accessible.

Bonne chance!

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Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

Robert Half