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Capital One mentors taught NAF Future Ready Lab students design and innovation


NAF students “saved a city” from toxins with a project that incorporated design thinking as part of NAF Future Ready Lab powered by Capital One. The ToxiCity Challenge empowered students with innovation and design skills that they can use as part of the future workforce. Capital One associates mentored youth in STEM skills so that they could build a prototype as a solution to preventing contamination in a city. Materials included rope, buckets and tire tubes to move and contain the “toxic” popcorn kernels.

“The Capital One mentorship has helped me think more and not take the easy route, which won’t get you anywhere. It taught me new strategies,” said Bryanna Harris, senior, Justin F. Kimball High School.

Attendees include youth from Woodrow Wilson, Justin F Kimball, W.H. Adamson and Sunset high schools. The student training of Capital One NAF interns is in partnership with the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. NAF Future Ready Lab is a new, innovative internship concept designed to scale the quantity of meaningful internship experiences available for more students to participate and prepare for future careers.

This summer’s program kicked off on June 11. The August 2nd  lab featured the ToxiCity Challenge where youth designed a product to safely remove “toxic” popcorn in order to “save the city.” The design process is what engineers use to solve challenges in the real world. Additionally, students are working

on projects assigned by entrepreneurs which youth will present at the end of their four-week internship.

The ToxiCity Challenge helps youth learn problem solving skills which they will also put into practice in their final project. 

“Through this mentorship program, I am now able to better organize ideas. I have an entirely new mindset to think outside of the box to innovate and be creative,” stated Brandon Parrish, senior, Sunset High School.

During the internship at Capital One, students participate in professional skill-building workshops with mentors and learn about college life. This paid internship provides high school students an opportunity to put their education into practice in a unique work environment.

“My career goal is to manage a business. My knowledge has been boosted when it comes to how business works. Design thinking shows that you can get opinions of customers so you can learn strategies of satisfying them to create a win-win situation,” added Harris.

Capital One believes that a quality education is the most important factor for our youth’s future success. Capital One has supported the NAF mission in aiding high school academy students with career tools since 2009, working with a total of 90 NAF interns over the years. Through NAF Future Ready Lab,

Capital One strives to widen the educational opportunities for students through programs that help them gain the skills of tomorrow, today so that they can work in the career of their choice. Capital One works with partners like NAF and UTD across the region to make its Future Edge DFW commitment come to life.

In 2015, Capital One launched Future Edge, an initiative that pledged $150 million over five years to help more Americans get the skills, tools and resources they need to succeed in the 21st  century. As part of this initiative, Future Edge DFW symbolizes Capital One’s commitment to make Dallas-Fort Worth a destination for top talent, spur growth as a world-renowned technology hub and nurture leaders of tomorrow. 

“This program has elevated me in wanting to pursue my dream. I was in a community where I didn’t have much technology. As a future computer engineer and entrepreneur, I would like to create new technology for communities that don’t have the resources,” concluded Parrish.

NAF is a national network of education, business, and community leaders who work together to ensure that high school students are college, career, and future ready. NAF works with high need communities to transform the high school experience through an educational design that includes industry-specific curricula, work-based learning experiences, and relationships with business professionals, culminating in a paid internship. NAF academies fit within and enhance school systems, allowing NAF to become an integral part of a plan for higher achievement at a low cost. NAF academies focus on one of five career themes: finance, hospitality and tourism, information technology, engineering, and health sciences. During the 2017-18 school year, more than 100,000 students attended 644 NAF academies across 36 states, including DC and the US Virgin Islands. In 2017, NAF academies reported 97% of seniors graduated with 90% of graduates with post-secondary intentions.

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