Things That Matter

CoolSpeak Is A Youth Organization Trying To Uplift Nuestra Gente By Giving Them Important Tools

As a community, it’s important we focus on making connections – it’s how we support one another and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard as loudly as possible. Our comunidad is all too often under attack and too many of us aren’t given the same opportunities and same encouragement as others.

That’s where CoolSpeak comes in to the picture. CoolSpeak is fueled by passion, the passion to spark inspiration and help people discover all they can achieve.

CoolSpeak is the youth engagement organization that is showing nuestra gente that every dream can be realized.

As a Latinx-led organization, CoolSpeak leverages the cool language kids speak to design and develop programs and events that build upon the traditional youth motivational speaking – while making sure the content speaks to minority and often forgotten communities.

These guys aren’t going into the country’s highest-rated schools and repeating the same content over and over. They’re visiting schools and students that will benefit the most from their powerful, authentic, and emotional stories – kids who can see themselves in the speakers.

Since 2009, CoolSpeak has visited thousands of middle schools, high schools and colleges in over 40 states, while serving over a million students. Beyond the students themselves, CoolSpeak works with and inspires parents and teachers from around the world.

So who are the visionaries behind this idea pushing kids to chase their dreams?

CoolSpeak actually started off as a graduate research project that impressed professors but didn’t go much further. Its two founders, Carlos Ojeda Jr. and Ernesto Mejia, were both then involved in the world of higher education and it wasn’t until the pair met in 2009 that CoolSpeak began to take shape.

At the time, Carlos was just 23 and admits that he “didn’t know shit” when it came to inspiration speaking. He had his story which he felt would really speak to young students but knew he needed to explore and get to know himself better. So he did just that.

As the two came together to form CoolSpeak, they had three objectives: inspire students, engage parents, and empower teachers. Since 2009, Carlos and Ernesto have worked tirelessly to make CoolSpeak the company that it is today.

For me, the biggest achievement in all of this is the group’s ability to get kids – and their parents – motivated and taking charge of their futures.

Credit: SaludAmerica / Instagram

I know growing up I had zero parent participation in my school work. And if my parents weren’t involved and basically making me do my homework or helping with reports, I wasn’t doing them. It was hard to stay motivated.

So the fact that this team doesn’t just get students and educators involved, but also works to engage parents is a huge deal. Our mamas and papas are often way too busy with their own jobs to be involved as they want to be – but CoolSpeak meets them at their level.

And many students are so empowered and moved by the speakers, they’ll go home and tell their parents, te amo mami. This gets parents wondering what is going on.

And the way they’re accomplishing this is some next level inspirational speaking.

CoolSpeak programs are designed to push the envelope of student engagement while ensuring that the material is highly interactive, full of energy and impactful. The company provides programs on various topics ranging from leadership development, diversity, college readiness and overcoming obstacles.

As an organization, CoolSpeak does literally zero marketing. As they say: the proof is in the pudding. It’s in the work they do and the results they help students achieve.

They help bring in motivational speakers who speak and look like the students – and who come from similar backgrounds. It’s important for them that the students/parents/educations see themselves in their team of speakers. From middle school aged kids all the way up to first year college students, CoolSpeak has 40 different programs across the U.S aimed at empowering vulnerable communities.

An example Ernesto pointed out during a recent interview, is they work to serve students with migrant parents who may be working in agriculture during the on-going crisis. Then helping set these students up with all they need to make it through their first year.

One of the keys to their success (and of the students) is their diverse team of speakers. They’re exceptionally skilled at sharing their unique stories and experiences. They’re truly transparent in what’s happened to them in their lives – they get brutal and gritty – they get naked with their soul.

And they’re looking to give back during this unprecedented health crisis.

In an interview with Carlos and Ernesto, the two shared they they plan to make a lot of the content they share available for free through this health crisis. They want to give back and help maintain some level of motivation and normalcy for the millions of students who are without their usual routines – often bored at home.

The team is already working on content related to the experience of Latinos and Covid-19, including poetry by Joaquin Zihuatanejo – a Slam Poetry world champion. Some examples of content that we might be looking forward to in the coming weeks could be:

  • Workshops to help parents be better at-home teachers
  • Tips for helping students develop leadership skills
  • Best practices for scholarship writing
  • How to write and reflect on whats’s going in students’ lives

Whether you’re an education professional, a parent, or even a student, CoolSpeak wants to hear from you.

Credit: @CoolSpeak / Twitter

The lasting impact that CoolSpeak continues to make on the world would not be possible if it was not for the incredible team members in the company and the visionary businesses who continue to support the dream of two passionate individuals who simply wished to provide transformative resources for students.

If you’re interested, get in touch with your school’s administrator directly via the team’s website or connect with them on social media. They’re always looking to give back and support the community that’s supported them.

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This 12-Year-Old MENSA Member Is Starting His Sophomore Year of College But Stays Humble— ‘I Just Grasp Information Quickly’

Fierce

This 12-Year-Old MENSA Member Is Starting His Sophomore Year of College But Stays Humble— ‘I Just Grasp Information Quickly’

CBS

Twelve-year-old Caleb Anderson has a head on his shoulder that’s steering him towards a bright and brilliant future. Most kids Anderson’s age are diving headfirst into their 7th-grade year, he on the other hand is headed to college.

Back to college that is.

Anderson is currently enrolled at Chattahoochee Technical College as a sophomore.

From Marietta, Georgia, he’s on track to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in two years. Speaking to CBS News for an interview the pre-treen remains humble and chalks up his success to being quick.

“I’m not really smart,” Caleb explained in his interview with the outlet. “I just grasp information quickly. So, if I learn quicker, then I get ahead faster.”

When it comes to pursuing his education, Anderson has his eyes set on a greater prize than just earning his bachelor’s degree. The 12-year-old is intent on heading off to Georgia Institute of Technology or the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. He’s hoping to eventually wind up with an internship at Tesla working for SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

“When I was like 1, I always wanted to go to space,” Anderson said in a separate interview with USA Today. “I figured that aerospace engineering would be the best path.”

Just twelve and Anderson has made quite a few other accomplishments.

At just 9 months old he learned how to do American Sign Language began reading just a few months later. “I have this distinct memory of going to a first-grade class and learning there, and everyone was way taller than me, because, you know, I was 2,” he explained to USA Today. “I could barely walk!”

According to his interviews, Anderson began solving math equations by the time he reached his second birthday and qualified for MENSA at just 3 years old. MENSA is the largest and oldest high IQ society across the globe. The non-profit organization is open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized intelligence test. Members have included the likes of Geena Davis, Nolan Gould of “Modern Family,” and Joyce Carol Oates.

Explaining what it is like to raise a genius, Anderson’s father Kobi WKYC that he realized his kid was special when he began to speak to other parents.

“As we started to interact with other parents, and had other children, then we started to realize how exceptional this experience was because we had no other frame of reference,” Kobi explained. “He has far surpassed me in math, so I can’t help him anymore. Seriously! He’s in calculus two now!”

When it comes to her son, Anderson’s mother says that she hopes other parents see him as an example and that he inspires other Black children.

“I think people have a negative perspective when it comes to African-American boys,” she explained. “There are many other Calebs out there… African-American boys like him. From being a teacher — I really believe that. But they don’t have the opportunity or the resources.”

Check out Anderson’s interview below!

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Megan Thee Stallion Pens New York Times Op-Ed, Gives Two Scholarships To WOC: ‘Protecting Black Women Should Not Be Controversial’

Fierce

Megan Thee Stallion Pens New York Times Op-Ed, Gives Two Scholarships To WOC: ‘Protecting Black Women Should Not Be Controversial’

Prince Williams / Getty

Classy, bougie, outspoken.

Ever since making headlines at the start of 2020 for her hitmaker “Savage” rapper, Megan Thee Stallion has used her voice to call out injustice and celebrate women of color. In July her voice in these realms became even more loud and vital when she became a victim of an act of violence by a man. Now, the 25-year-old rapper is working vigorously to educate others about the importance of protecting Black women through her music, charity, and writing.

On Tuesday Megan Thee Stallion penned a New York op-ed about the fight to protect Black women and educate the world about their struggle.

In the opinion piece titled “Megan Thee Stallion: Why I Speak Up for Black Women,” the rapper tackles everything from her own recent experiences with gun violence to the legacy of Black women officials, including Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

At the start of her piece, the rapper commented on how “Black women are expected once again to deliver victory for Democratic candidates. We have gone from being unable to vote legally to a highly courted voting bloc — all in little more than a century.” She notes that “despite this and despite the way so many have embraced messages about racial justice this year, Black women are still constantly disrespected and disregarded in so many areas of life.”

She went onto point out that her recent performance on “Saturday Night Live” and how her recent experience of being allegedly shot by singer Tory Lanez led her to initially remain quiet. “My initial silence about what happened was out of fear for myself and my friends. Even as a victim, I have been met with skepticism and judgment,” she explained. “The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted.”

“I recently used the stage at ‘Saturday Night Live’ to harshly rebuke Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron, for his appalling conduct in denying Breonna Taylor and her family justice,” she noted. “I anticipated some backlash: Anyone who follows the lead of Congressman John Lewis, the late civil rights giant, and makes ‘good trouble, necessary trouble,’ runs the risk of being attacked by those comfortable with the status quo. But you know what? I’m not afraid of criticism. We live in a country where we have the freedom to criticize elected officials. And it’s ridiculous that some people think the simple phrase ‘Protect Black women’ is controversial. We deserve to be protected as human beings. And we are entitled to our anger about a laundry list of mistreatment and neglect that we suffer.”

Megan went onto share her own experiences as seeing herself through the eyes of others as a Black woman.

“Beyond threats to our health and lives, we confront so much judgment and so many conflicting messages on a daily basis. If we dress in fitted clothing, our curves become a topic of conversation not only on social media, but also in the workplace. The fact that Serena Williams, the greatest athlete in any sport ever, had to defend herself for wearing a bodysuit at the 2018 French Open is proof positive of how misguided the obsession with Black women’s bodies is,” she went onto write. “I would know. I’ve received quite a bit of attention for appearance as well as my talent. I choose my own clothing. Let me repeat: I choose what I wear, not because I am trying to appeal to men, but because I am showing pride in my appearance, and a positive body image is central to who I am as a woman and a performer. I value compliments from women far more than from men. But the remarks about how I choose to present myself have often been judgmental and cruel, with many assuming that I’m dressing and performing for the male gaze. When women choose to capitalize on our sexuality, to reclaim our own power, like I have, we are vilified and disrespected.”

The rapper’s op-ed comes on the heels of an announcement that she will be giving out two scholarships to women of color pursuing higher education.

Megan announced earlier last week that she wants to celebrate other women of color who “Don’t Stop” pursuing their higher education by giving out scholarships.

As part of a partnership with Rap Rotation, Amazon Music’s flagship global hip-hop brand, the rapper launched her Don’t Stop Scholarship Fund on Oct. 8. The scholarship fund is named after her newest single which features Young Thug and will go out to two female students pursuing an associate, bachelor or postgraduate degree in any field.

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