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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Lets Innovate Through Education

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Economic Development, Education, Job Training, Student Services, Urban & Community Economic Development, Youth Development - Business

Mission: equip African-American/Latinx youth with 21st-century skills to create wealth.

Results: 100% High School Graduation Rate. 85% College Persistence Rate. 90% of students have shown significant growth in entrepreneurial skills. Named one of the 20 ideas that can change the world by Forbes Magazine. Named one of the 5 most innovative ideas in teaching by Teach for America.

Target demographics: African-American/Latinx youth

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1,000 students

Geographic areas served: Memphis, TN

Programs: 6-month entrepreneurship program, paid internship program, and a business coaching program

Community Stories

11 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been working with and volunteering for Let's Innovate Through Education since 2015. The program is INCREDIBLE. I've spent 5 years teaching in the classroom. I've seen schools work hard to prepare kids for our state tests, but it's not always clear whether what they are learning is preparing them for the work force of the future. To be prepared for the future, students must learn creative problem solving, interpersonal skills, network creation skills and marketing skills; jobs that can't be phased out by a computer. And students that go through LITE learn these skills in SPADES. When I see students working through how to pivot their idea or preparing to pitch their venture I get jealous, because these students are much further ahead of the game than I was when I was 17. They're ready to compete.
Additionally, sometimes it can feel incredibly challenging to get students to take ownership over their own learning. When students launch a venture through LITE they take ownership over improving their writing, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills and as a result, kids improve skills so much more dramatically then I've seen in the classroom. Finally, these students know their respective communities so well. They create ventures tailored to their respective areas that will really help Memphis! I can't speak highly enough about the work being done by LITE and the incredible effort of the students as they seek to build businesses that create profit and change their city.
I would recommend LITE to any high school student interested in entrepreneurship development. Any person who's interested in helping Memphis grow and thrive economically should seek out supporting however they can!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was fortunate enough to experience both sides of this program as both a finalist and an intern. Coming into the program the fall of my senior year, I wasn't too sure what I was getting myself into. I was optimistic about the opportunity that was presented in front of me; however, I was also hesitant because I didn't know what I was being sold looked like in practice. I was being told that I would be able to create, market, and launch my own program or business in the span of six months despite not being exposed to these ideas prior. To a then seventeen-year-old girl who was already engulfed in applying for colleges and other extracurricular activities, that was little overwhelming. I didn't think that I could pull all of that off in the short amount of time I had but I was wrong. By the end of my time in the program, I was exposed to these new skills and completely exceeded my own realm of possibilities. I completely fell in love with this program because not only was it more than I hoped for but because between Hardy, Pam, the mentors, and my peers, there was never a person that doubted my ability to innovate and contribute to my community.
Being an intern at LITE over the past few months only strengthened my love and support of this program. I have never work with people who were so passionate about what they were doing. This small team of people comes together in order to create opportunities for students such as myself, not because they have to but because they genuinely and wholeheartedly want to.
I write all this just to say, this program completely changed my life in ways I didn't think were possible and I believe that LITE is only the starting point of something bigger.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've had the great privilege of working with LITE since the organization was founded, and I have been incredibly impressed with how the organization has thoughtfully and strategically iterated it's programs and evolved over the years. Hardy and the team work tirelessly to ensure that students in Memphis are receiving the support, skills training and experience they both want and need to start a business, with the goal of empowering the next generation and closing the wealth gap that is unjustly perpetuated in most communities. Hardy and the team believe, encourage, and challenge students to follow their dreams, and it's incredible to see the next generation's passion and commitment to making their community stronger.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

LITE empowers our city's youth to make a change by equipping them with the hard skills needed to found and operate a socially conscious business and with the improved self-confidence to navigate the professional world. LITE's Pitch Night, a time when participants give an elevator speech on their business ideas, is a powerful reminder of what is possible for our youth and what they are capable of doing when given the opportunity. Lets Innovate Through Education makes a difference in Memphis.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

LITE is truly a groundbreaking non-profit making a real difference in the Memphis community. I've loved getting work with this non-profit and watch how it transforms the lives of underprivileged students. LITE is educating students through entrepreneurship — a proven skill that will inspire one to further their education and achieve financial success. So proud of this organization for its continued growth and success.

Donor

Rating: 5

I've had the pleasure of working with Hardy since LITE was an little more than an idea growing out of his experience teaching. The iterative process that he has gone through in designing and redesigning the experiences that LITE participants engage with aims towards ensuring every student involved has the chance to walk away with tangible skills and social capital to use in the pursuit of their individual goals. LITE's hyper-local focus also helps young people identify opportunities close to home that they can be a part of which is key to community development.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LITE provides some incredible opportunities for students, giving them hands on leadership experiences that can't be found in the classroom. After mentoring with the program for two years, I can say confidently it's going to continue being a driving force in helping Memphis produce more diverse leaders, both culturally and economically.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Let's Innovate Through Education is an amazing program! I'd recommend to any high school student!

Client Served

Rating: 5

LITE helped me realize that you are never too young to make a difference. Additionally, LITE gave me experience with networking with professionals. LITE has changed my life and displayed a side of Memphis most people don't see.

Client Served

Rating: 5

It has truly been a blessing attending this wonderful program. I have had the opportunity to make connections and become involve in internships . This program has assists me in becoming a great entrpreneur. Each year, there is a new opportunity with LITE.

Donor

Rating: 5

LITE and Hardy Farrow, its founder, provide an incredible opportunity for students in the Memphis area. This is one of the few nonprofits I have seen that truly exponentially improves the surrounding area. In looking at the metrics, students (often previously at-risk) that move through the LITE curriculum are getting (and sometimes exceeding) opportunities available to students who attend private school. This creates a ripple effect because these students go on to improve and provide new services to the community around them, lifting everyone up, not just themselves, and this improvement has a quick turnaround; this isn't a leadership program that students learn now and apply in several years. Some students are opening small businesses within months after beginning LITE. Can't recommend the program enough! Proud to have donated!