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Urban Youth Entrepreneur Academy empowers students to pursue careers in STEM and beyond

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Posted at 11:34 PM, Mar 16, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — 10-year-old Zera Brown has a curious mind.

“The reason why I like science is because you can make very cool things. You can make explosions, you can get electric shocked, even though that might be scary for some kids,” the fourth grader said.

She’s a TikToker, a dancer and a lover of all things science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Sometimes education needs to be put in a fun perspective so people can learn it in a fun way," Brown said.

That’s exactly why she spends her evenings at the Urban Youth Entrepreneur Academy, which provides underserved, marginalized youth with programs that create a pipeline for STEM careers and opportunities.

Students get a chance to learn about financial literacy, entrepreneurship, coding, robotics and more.

“Initially, I thought it was hard. A lot of smart people I knew did those kinds of occupations. Once I got to learn it, I found out I was pretty good at it and was able to do projects and build stuff. I thought that if kids were having issues and were able to do stuff like that, it would bring them out and put them on the right track," Tyrone Chandler, President and CEO of the nonprofit Community Assets Inc., said.

There’s a focus on providing black and brown students opportunities they may not have access to at school or home.

“Early education in those fields in technology and money management and decision making, and all of those different types of things, being part of a team, cooperating and those things are early characteristics to help groom kids into young adults that are productive citizens in the city of Indianapolis," Chandler said.

The Academy has been meeting at the Riverside Community Center for the past five years.

About one to two dozen kids ages six to 15 come to these classes on a weekly basis. It’s free to participate.

Something Brown’s mom, Xienia Powell, says she’s grateful for.

“She’s gonna be the first generation IT student in our family," Powell said.

Powell hopes these classes will make her daughter more prepared to achieve success, an opportunity she wasn’t afforded growing up.

“When I was a kid, nobody told me about these programs. Nobody told me about salaries, so for these kids to know about salaries early, to know about careers early and why it’s important to have a career, that means everything to me," Powell said.

Even though she’s only in fourth grade, Brown already has big plans to study medicine at Harvard University.

“You can be inspired by the things you love. Don’t let anyone take that away from you," Brown said.

If you'd like more information about how to get involved, click here.