When the BLM movement burst on the scene last spring, many companies filled up their social media with BLM images and memes. We felt this wasn’t enough. It’s easy to be a hashtag-activist but if we were concerned about systemic racism, was that going to help? And could we credibly say that we were investing our time and resources in helping remedy this very deep-rooted problem? Even though diversity is one of our core values, and we have made efforts every day to increase diversity in STEM, I didn’t feel like we were doing enough for the Black community specifically in light of the current situation.
As an education company, what we have to offer is Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes. The transition to a knowledge economy is almost complete, so helping young people gain more knowledge is extremely valuable. And to the extent that we can make that more available – by making it more accessible but also more appealing, we can help get kids who might be otherwise left behind onto the tech knowledge ladder. Skills are when you put that Knowledge to work, in real, relevant projects. And Attitudes is building confidence through practice, sharing, and recognising that you can do something meaningful with the knowledge and the skills!
We held a few sessions in the business. We talked to our Black team members, and to some of our partners. We all decided that to make a meaningful impact on Black lives, we needed to work with people who are already serving the Black community – who work with those kids every day, engaging and educating them. Just as we were scanning around looking for a good charity partner – STEP NOW called.
Introducing: STEP NOW
STEP NOW is an amazing organisation. It’s run by and for the community in Lambeth, and works to help young people step into adulthood by offering them financial education, social skills development around relationships, and career insights and experience. Their mission is to mentor, educate and empower young people with the skills to step into education.
From the first meeting we were excited to work together. STEP NOW recognized that getting comfortable and gaining skills in tech – to create, communicate and solve problems – could resonate with their kids and open new avenues of achievement for them. We decided to start with some of our more creative courses, meeting kids where they were at in their interests, and bringing in some of STEP NOW network of successful creators. This summer our only face to face courses were with STEP NOW. We were not able to round up funding in the short timeframe to run a big programme so we ran a pilot with eight young people. They learned Digital Music Production, getting to grips with the professional software Ableton, used by loads of digital music stars. We also run workshops on Creating with YouTube – using cameras and lights, but video editing software and the YouTube suite to build and promote videos. STEP NOW complemented the programme with a Day in the Life visit to professionals in the community. The response was very strong from the teens, reporting that they learned new skills and felt more confident, and that they would look for ways to continue to deepen their knowledge and experience in these areas.
With a successful pilot behind us, once again validating our approach to make learning impactful by making it engaging, relevant and project-focused, we will be working to find funding to continue to work with STEP NOW and the kids. We’ll work with the organisation and the teens they know best, to show paths to a successful future through creativity and problem solving, and offer courses across the range of our subjects. We are delighted to have started this partnership with such a thoughtful and engaged community partner, and we hope this is just the beginning of the ways that we will work to break down systemic racism through inclusion and opportunity in our own local community.
Get in touch
If you are a business that wants to support tech education and work with a trusted partner to inspire young people from all backgrounds, please get in touch with us. Fire Tech works with large corporations, governments, and charities such as Ocean Generation and the Bleu Blanc Rouge Foundation.
+44 (0)203 950 7310