From Hardy Farrow’s classroom to a Memphis-wide organization, Let’s Innovate Through Education (LITE) has inspired our youth to dream bigger in an effort to promote entrepreneurship. Since 2013, the program has helped African-American and Latinx students find their future in new and exciting ways in hopes of closing the racial wealth gap.

What is LITE Memphis?

LITE Memphis equips African-American/Latinx youth with 21st-century skills to create wealth. LITE works with over 2,000 youth in 1-day workshops and then empowers 75 youth a year through a pipeline from the age of 17 to the age of 25. LITE believes that creating wealth starts with teaching students how to become entrepreneurs.

The LITE path

Students begin their LITE journey in high school, learning 21st-century skills via the execution of an entrepreneurial idea. The initial six-month program introduces business concepts through community challenges. Students develop their ideas with help from a business mentor, then bring these ideas to fruition by developing funding sources.

While in college, LITE students are matched with a paid summer internship in a high-growth industry. This allows the students to network with established industry professionals, learning the ropes while they build their business prototypes.

Following college graduation, students are matched with high-growth business markets and receive coaching through the startup phase. Finally, they are provided access to capital providers to make their dreams and the dreams of their communities become reality. Students remain in the program until the age of 25, at which point they should aim to have either launched their startup or acquired a high-wage job that is helping them build personal wealth.

Outstanding results

Since the program’s inception, more than 2,000 youth have been empowered by the lessons that LITE teaches. Of the students that went through the 8-year pipeline, 90 percent have shown extreme growth in career skills and 85 percent are on track to graduate college. In addition:

  • $112,000 has been invested in small business growth in Memphis.
  • $50,000 has been invested in internship stipends.
  • Students have spent 4,000 hours building their businesses.
  • 95 percent of LITE students described the program as “extremely rewarding.”
  • Forbes named LITE “one of the 20 ideas that can change the world.”
  • Atlantic Magazine has named LITE “one of the 25 ideas inspiring change in America.”

Partnering with the community

LITE has thrived in Memphis thanks to a number of community sponsors that assist in the identification and recruitment of talented students, including:

  • Bridges
  • Street Ministries
  • Memphis Athletic Ministries
  • CodeCrew
  • Boys & Girls Club
  • Reach Memphis

The results are undeniable. LITE Memphis represents another way our community has embraced innovation in pursuit of a brighter future for all of our citizens.

Check out the founder of LITE Memphis give an amazing talk at TEDx Memphis!

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