Gray Matter Experience exists to give opportunities to High School students across Chicago to learn about and practice entrepreneurship at an early age. Our students are representative of over 25 Chicago neighborhoods and hope to gain knowledge, access and resources to transform the way they and others view their communities. Students collaborate to develop solutions around problems that plague their communities and use their newfound knowledge gained through The Gray Matter Experience, to help shape their business approach.
These students are becoming well equipped to navigate through our booming technological and entrepreneurial economy. They're learning to use the resources and information gained through the program to catapult their futures to great success. They're learning to be change agents within their communities with the hope of continuing to rebuild and reinvigorate their neighborhoods as they achieve various forms of success. These students are #GMEChangers.
These students were the first brave crew to complete The Gray Matter Experience. Students conceptualized businesses that targeted health concerns in the Black community, helped small businesses communicate and collaborate more seamlessly and worked to find solutions to keeping kids off the street. Our alumni went on to attend colleges across the country, majoring in business, economics, marketing and accounting. Six of them defied the odds and used our GME Changers Incubator to further develop their business. As a result, Lip Locker - an all natural DIY lipstick company for minority women to craft the perfect shade and RecruiTeen - an app allowing teens to find small business jobs in their communities - were launched.
This bright group of teens entered the program with a strong desire to equip themselves with whatever it took to see their communities improved. These students were passionate about economic justice and weren't afraid to roll up their sleeves to do the work. They learned to leverage their creativity, collective experiences and unique perspectives to develop businesses that would create longstanding impact on their community's narratives. Their passion led them to create Chi Chic Boutique, a custom resale & cosmetics shop for special occasions, providing discounted formal wear to underserved student and Kids Going Out (KGO), a teen-run events company providing a safe space for teens to convene.
This dynamic cohort joined the program eager to be connected to the people, places and things that would help them turn their passions into impact. These #gmechangers were strong-willed and determined to put in the work it took to be successful. They were collaborative, curious, creative and empowered and we were thrilled to equip them with the right resources to make impact within and outside the city of Chicago. Their determination led to the creation of The Arkitekt Foundation, a non-profit that helps low income youth develop self-motivating mindsets through youth on youth sports mentoring, Youth Entrepreneurship League (YEL) which provides opportunities for young entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, Kangaroo, an on-demand hair delivery service for stylist and Strength Together, a mental health app providing resources to support teens dealing with mental illness.
Cohort 4 came in with an unmatched energy. A group of teens ready to change the world - little did they know, they’d actually have the chance to do so. The COVID-19 pandemic de-railed our programming, so we had to innovate quickly - shifting to a virtual cohort. These #gmechangers were more than ready for the challenge. They learned to collaborate virtually, become more flexible and agile in their approach and consider how they could use the unfortunate circumstances to build solutions for the changing environment. They’re committed to leveraging their smarts, talents and access to creating global solutions for the world’s most vulnerable communities and people. Without a doubt, this group will go on to do amazing things in this world. Follow along to keep up with their journeys.