Venture Café St. Louis launched EdHub STL on August 30, 2019, to address our region’s most entrenched educational challenges by providing support and place for intra- and entrepreneurs in education. EdHub Manager, Sherita Love, shares notes on the launch.
When Michael Brown was killed on August 9th 2014, I made a commitment to use my voice and platform as an educator to make a difference for students in St Louis. My work in education equity took on a different meaning after that day. Meaning that eventually led to me join the team with Venture Cafe St. Louis. Not long after, as we explored ways to re-engage our education and equity efforts, the opportunity to partner with SkipNV came about resulting with the launch of the EdHub STL.
EdHub STL is inspired by two main visions. SkipNV’s vision to ensure children and youth, regardless of where they come from or circumstances given them, can achieve their fullest potential. The other is the Call to Action in the Forward through Ferguson report which urges the “St. Louis region to look for ways to support innovation in education, giving special consideration to innovations that address systemic challenges and racial inequity through the development of an Innovative Education Hub. The Innovative Education Hub would serve as a developmental laboratory where teachers, education leaders, parents, community leaders, youth, colleges and universities, non-profits, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and philanthropists could experiment, collaborate, and innovate. Having a shared space to explore new ideas and incubate developing educational concepts can accelerate the implementation of effective strategies and best practices across the region.”
We are implementing this call to action by leveraging the Venture Cafe platform of connecting innovators with the systems thinking strategy of SkipNV to create a physical and intellectual space for everyone–regardless of where you fall in the educational landscape to experiment, collaborate, and innovate.
By providing a platform for educators to collide through programs and events, we build an inclusive, collaborative, and multi-disciplined community of practice to
creatively solve our region’s most entrenched educational challenges.
As we launched EdHub STL on August 30th at the Thursday Venture Café Gathering, I saw more than 720 people from across the
region and country excitedly fill the first and second floors of the 4240 Heritage Building in the Cortex district. I thought, “St. Louis is ready.” The excitement was palpable and inspiring with a common thread in conversations.
The standing room only panel discussion and subsequent keynote lead by Jose Luis Vilson (NYC), author of “This is Not a Test” and founder of EduColor. Others on the panel included Angela Dye, Executive Director of The Empowerment Network, Bijal Desai Ramirez, VP of Entrepreneurship/Investments at WEPOWER, Netia McCray (Boston), Executive Director of Mbadika, Katie Bodie, Cofounder and CEO of The Lean Lab Education. The success of the launch further validated the need for such a space in St. Louis.
The launch also introduced the EdHub STL Fellowship which empowers education “intrapreneurs” to develop or expand transformative education initiatives. Meet the Fellows:
Winnie Caldwell /Sidney Keys III – Books N Bros.
Books N Bros. empowers boys, promoting literacy, and bringing awareness to African American literature.
Abby Crawford – COCA
COCA Education Outreach provides arts programming to thousands of students and dedicated educators throughout the St. Louis region breaking through economic and transportation barriers.
Black + Brown Leadership
City Garden Academy supporting black and brown leadership in education.
Charli Cooksey / Bijal Desai Ramirez – WEPOWER
WEPOWER catalyzing communities to build and leverage power in order
to design and lead systems change.
Erik Lewis – South City College Prep Academy
South City College Prep Academy using restorative practices as a movement across St. Louis area schools to change the educational landscape of this city.
Dr. Chris McGee – ConnectED Learning
ConnectED Learning connects educators and transforms schools.
Jack Krewson / Gavin Schiffries – Kairos Academies
Kairos Academies is opening a 6–12 grade free, public charter school coming in Dutchtown, St. Louis in 2019.
Now it’s time to get back to work; the work done alongside a passionate community of educators to reimagine what is possible for the region. Dr. Saras Chung, Executive Director of SkipNV shared the perfect summation for how we move forward stating, “EdHub STL will not be the antidote to educational disparities…people must do that work. What it will do, is give people the place and intellectual space to get people friendly with one another, share good ideas, and create new ones so the work will be deeper, more complete, and easier to get done.”
Story by Sherita Love and Venture Cafe St. Louis team. Photo credit: Venture Cafe St. Louis Staff.