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.
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.
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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