Education and Empowerment: How SheEO Academy Benefited From Being a Learning Pathways Fellow
For SheEO Academy, an after-school entrepreneurship enrichment program designed to empower the CEO in every girl, taking part in Big Thought’s Learning Pathways Fellowship was ultimately about connection.
It meant connecting the program’s curriculum with what was happening in the classroom. It meant connecting with parents to better communicate that SheEO Academy’s goals of encouraging innovation, self-confidence and social entrepreneurship are valuable to all young women. And during a global pandemic that’s often meant staying in, it meant reaching out and connecting not only with youth but other Fellows.
A three-month opportunity, the Learning Pathways Fellowship is a way to promote Big Thought’s Learning Pathways Project, a city-wide effort that helps youth connect skills developed during out-of-school experiences to the pursuit of a college degree, career certificate or entrepreneurial venture. At the heart of the project is the Creator Archetype, which outlines the skills, competencies and experiences that equip and empower youth to create their best lives and world.
Through seminars, office hours and small group meetings — all held virtually — the fellowship helps out-of-school providers identify, measure and elevate the 21st skills youth develop during their programs. After three months, Fellows have the tools and activities needed to ensure youth leave their program having evidence of skills development.
When the opportunity arose for SheEO Academy to participate in the Learning Pathways Fellowship over the summer, Felecia Caruthers, the North Texas region director for She-EO, LLC, brought the idea to She-EO, LLC CEO and SheEO Academy Founder DeShawn Robinson-Chew who gave her the greenlight.
Caruthers and SheEO Academy had been working with Big Thought since she moved back to Texas. “I wanted to bring SheEO to the students here, but it was hard for me to get in with the teachers and the school,” she said. But after being referred to Big Thought, she found a way to better make those connections.
For Caruthers, the fellowship represented a chance for SheEO Academy to showcase its programming and to help attendees understand and articulate how SheEO Academy applied not only to schoolwork but careers and future opportunities. “We had an opportunity to look at what we were offering in a different light,” she said. “We know it’s wonderful, but it’s about how to express that to young girls and their parents. [The Learning Pathways Fellowship] gave us another way of directing what we’re trying to portray to a different audience.”
In fact, after Caruthers’ positive experience with the three-month program in the summer, Robinson-Chew joined a fall cohort. “We thought this would be a good way to have talking points and communicate a structure that is aligned with academic skillsets and career ideology or career areas,” Robinson-Chew said.
SheEO Academy is often billed as an entrepreneurial program, which isn’t inaccurate, but the after-school program is also more than that. It’s a way to prepare young women to embrace themselves and their abilities — to live out the Creator Archetype by being solution-oriented and innovative. The Learning Pathways Fellowship helped bring those programmatic advantages to light.
“I see this as a way to communicate to parents that design thinking, that entrepreneurial skillsets, that problem-solving are skills that all girls are going to be able to apply, whether they own a business, lead a business or work for a business,” said Robinson-Chew.
Interested in participating in the next Learning Pathways Fellowship? Visit our Learning Pathways page for more information.