July 14, 2017

These Baltimore Middle School Girls Spent the Week Working on New Ventures

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Spark Baltimore was one of the stops on a seven-city tour for Envision Lead Grow. Founder Angela Reddix created the program to inspire entrepreneurship.

Abisola Abina is passionate about spreading education.

“I think that every child should have an opportunity to get an education,” she said.

This week, the 12-year-old who attends KIPP Ujima Village Academy is learning how to turn that passion into a nonprofit. After four days developing an idea and hearing from entrepreneurs at Spark Baltimore, she was set to pitch the nonprofit at Morgan State on Friday.

It’s called DEAR, which stands for Drop Everything and Read.

She’s one of a group of middle school girls who took part in Envision Lead Grow. The city-focused program, created by Angela Reddix, is designed to introduce girls in cities to entrepreneurship.

“I believe entrepreneurship is an intervention to decrease poverty in a community, increase high school graduation rates, decrease teen pregnancy rates,” said Reddix, who is CEO of ARDX, a healthcare and tech consulting company based in Norfolk, Va.

The program is in seven cities this summer, with Baltimore being the fourth stop. In all, about 500 girls heading into grades 5-9 will participate.

They pitch to begin the week, work to develop their mentors, and hear from entrepreneurs and leaders. Tiffany Robinson, who is Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Larry Hogan, spoke to the group on Thursday.

Along with encouraging girls to tap into their passion, the program is also encouraging the girls to develop relationships.

That involves keeping connection points following the week. They’re matched with a mentor at the camp to follow up throughout the year, and connect again through webinars with girls from the seven cities each month. Reddix is also organizing an event in D.C. later this year to bring girls together.

“The girls will continue to pitch their ideas, continue to fine-tune their ideas and use their peer group as almost a beta of their concept,” she said.