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Equipping Students with Career Skills: Q&A with LITE Memphis

SoundCheck, the Greater Memphis Chamber's Young Professional Council, is full of young talent eager to do their part in making Memphis a great city to live and work and play. One of these such members is Hardy Farrow, who is working hard to make Memphis a great city to learn. He launched Let's Innovate through Education (LITE) Memphis in his first year for Teach of America and has touched the lives of hundreds of students by using their passions and ideas to teach them the skills they'll need to succeed in college, career and beyond. Get to know Hardy, LITE Memphis and how you can make a difference in the Q&A below.

Can you briefly tell us about the mission of LITE Memphis?
LITE's mission is to equip low-income high school students with the career skills they need to succeed and empower these students to use these skills to launch social entrepreneurial ideas to impact their communities.

How did LITE Memphis begin?
LITE began as a classroom project in my first year of Teach for America at Power Center Academy High School. I was teaching Government & Economics and I felt like my students were missing out on practical skills they needed to learn in life. Also, I felt like there was a fundamental opportunity gap between low-income students and high income students. I went from working with 50 students in my first semester and 3 ideas to 400 students and 25 ideas this year. 

What is the process like for LITE Memphis?
LITE works with students in two main ways: workshops and a finalist program. Through our workshops, we work with students on developing entrepreneurial ideas, learning how to market them, learning how to budget, and learning how to pitch their idea. From the 400 students who go through our workshops, we pick 25 students that we work with intensively for 6 months. During this six month process, we take students from the idea they had in the workshop to launching their idea in a tangible way in the community. We seed invest in their idea, bring in mentors, and take them through a startup curriculum.

What are some examples of student ideas or projects?
Our goal is to have students launch tangible projects and learn skills through these initiatives. Examples of student ideas include: 150-person dance showcases, airport revitalization plans, fashion shows that use recycled clothing, competitive park cleanups, Latino reading initiatives, and dropout prevention campaigns.

What success has LITE Memphis seen?
Since our inception, we've had 600 students go through our program. Over 80% of workshop participants have reported significant skill growth in three key areas (problem solving, goal setting, and organization). On average, our finalists receive $51,000 in merit scholarships (not including need-based aid) and have a 100 percent college acceptance rate. Eighty-six percent of the finalists have shown sustained skill growth in those three key areas. 

How can the business community support LITE Memphis?
The business community can help us through support and mentorship. Click here to learn more about LITE Memphis and how you can get involved.

Posted: 11/10/2015 2:15:05 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: Education, Entrepreneurship, Farrow, Hardy, Innovation, LITE, Memphis, Professional, SoundCheck, Young

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (