Summer 2015

DC teenager wins social venture contest with STEM initiative

"Black Girls Love STEM Too, assures Jamese Mangum, a junior at Washington Math, Science, and Technology Public Charter High School. A winner of the 2015 LearnServe Innovation Award, Mangum successfully created and pitched a project that will give teen girls a chance to learn from black women professionals in STEM fields and, in turn, relay the information to younger girls of color."

>> Read the whole article on Elevation DC>>

2015 Panels and Venture Fair


Last April, 46 teams pitched their ideas at our 6th Annual Panels and Venture Fair, held at the Maret School.  In addition to the LearnServe Fellows, we were proud to welcome several teams from schools that are participating in the pilot of our in-school social entrepreneurship curriculum.  For a recap of the night and to see our Innovation Award winners, please watch our video above!

>> Watch on Youtube >>

Kids Are Scientists Too Stays in the LearnServe Family

LearnServe venture Kids Are Scientists Too (KAST) has reached a major milestone! KAST was founded five years ago by Jessica Yang (Fellows '10), who wanted to promote a love of science in elementary schools. She grew the organization into a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation operating in 4 states. Now graduating from MIT, Jessica has decided to step down as CEO of KAST and hand leadership over to another LearnServe Alumna, Jessica Sun (Fellows '12, Jamaica '12).

Jessica Yang states that the organization was founded on the principle of teaching by students, for students, and as such, the leadership should continue to reflect that concept. Jessica Yang will stay on as Chairperson of KAST's Board of Directors. This marks the first major leadership transition for a LearnServe venture that has achieved 501(c)3 status. We are excited for the KAST team and proud that the CEO role has been passed on to another alumna of the LearnServe Fellows Program.


1st LearnServe Abroad Weekend Seminar

Our LearnServe Zambia, Paraguay, and Jamaica students have returned from two and a half weeks of service with community organizations and social entrepreneurs overseas. Before they left, students participated in our first-ever LearnServe Abroad weekend seminar held at the Washington International School. The first day focused on cross-cultural interaction and immersion. Operation Understanding DC facilitated a cross-cultural workshop, and students reflected on what it means to be representing the United States when serving abroad. The second day introduced themes in international development and global perspectives on social change to contextualize the countries they would be working in. On Sunday afternoon, the group was joined by Kuni Hashimoto from the Embassy of Paraguay and Damien Eaton from the Embassy of Jamaica for our annual send-off celebration, in recognition of their contributions overseas.  The keynote speaker was Mashaba Rashid (Fellows '13, Jamaica '13).

In case you missed their updates, you can still follow their journeys here:

Jamaica 2015 Blog         Jamaica 2015 Photos

Paraguay 2015 Blog       Paraguay 2015 Photos

Zambia 2015 Blog          Zambia 2015 Photos

Staff Profile: Alex Brockwehl

I joined LearnServe as a Venture Mentor for the Fellows Program in September 2013. Having previously spent a year teaching and volunteering in rural Ecuador, LearnServe provided an opportunity to continue working with young people to address community challenges and sources of social injustice (albeit in a slightly different context). Last year I took on the additional role of helping to coordinate the mentorship program, which enables me to continue working one-on-one with students in developing their social ventures while collaborating more closely with the many talented professionals who volunteer for the program. 

Outside of LearnServe, I work for Freedom House, a non-profit organization which aims to promote political rights and civil liberties around the world through research, advocacy, and material and technical support to human rights activists and local organizations. For the last three years I've helped advance Freedom House's goals in Latin America, administering projects to assist activists, journalists, and non-governmental organizations throughout the region in defending their fundamental right to participate in the political process. This role has taken me to various places, from the remote corners of the Peruvian Amazon to the halls of the Chilean Congress, and brought me into contact with Mexican bloggers, Chilean student activists, and Ecuadorian indigenous leaders. 

The LearnServe program has been the perfect complement to my full-time job at Freedom House. It's gratifying to watch the Fellows make rapid progress over the course of the year, honing their understanding of a particular issue that they choose to address while also building their leadership and public speaking skills in the process. Their curiosity, ambition, and optimism provide a renewed source of energy and inspiration for the mentors who work with them and the many others who observe their pitches or hear their ideas.

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