A day well spent talking on a panel about education, access, and opportunity. FutureFIRST joined the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE), and My Brothers Keeper DC for a panel conversation on the pathway to the middle class. How do we build an ecosystem that creates access and opportunity to a changing community?

We need to address the socio-economic gap between our minority youth and their peers – the panelist explored several ways the private and public sector are addressing the socioeconomic gap. Without access to technical and professional training, DC youth of color risk being excluded from high paying jobs in technical sectors and lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities.

The panel was lead by Sheila Kasasa, CEO and co-founder of FutureFIRST, joined by Kendrick Jackson of My Brother’s Keeper DC, James Privette of DC Youth Corps, Connell Wise from the District Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), and Chloe Jordan from the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).


Sheila Kasasa reflected on the importance of mental health support in education programs. Students who are dealing with trauma on a daily basis need these services to be able to continue their technical education. Kasasa shed light on the subject and highlighted a story of a DC Youth Corps 2017 participant who lost her mother during the first week of last year’s program. The emotional and mental support she received from the team has helped her to continue her education.

Kendrick Jackson spoke about the role of public-private partnership, and how the DC government supports private initiatives which focus on creating a pathway to the middle class for the residents of the district. Jackson stressed that there is a need to foster entrepreneurship mentality among youth, stating that ‘real entrepreneurs have full ownership in their work, their well-being, and their income.’

James Privette, DC Youth Corps’ program manager, discussed the need for education programs focused on skills. Students need to be treated like adults, contribute to the design of the education process, and focus on the skills needed to integrate in the workforce. DC Youth Corps’ experience showed that mentorship adds a great value to education programs, beyond the value of traditional classes.

The panelists emphasized the need for role models of color. Young people need to see other people that look like them in the fields they aspire to enter. Young people of color see successful athletes and musicians of color, but they don’t see many successful figures in STEM and Computer Science fields. This has been a consistent finding of the programs implemented in the district.

At FutureFIRST, we understand the importance of raising public conversations about youth, tech, and entrepreneurship. We moderate panels and speak at conferences to bring awareness to these areas. You can book us to moderate a panel or build a workshop around inclusive education. Our experienced team will add value to your conference, panel, or event or build a workshop. While informative, we make it fun!

This panel was hosted by Education Experience Design DC and Industrious DC.


Let’s Build A Legacy Together