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Inspiring Conversations with Shai’Robia Davis of Shaping The Early Mind Inc.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shai’Robia Davis.

Hi Shai’Robia, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
As a black girl from the foster care system, I was discouraged from pursuing a career in science. I was told there were jobs more suitable or easier to obtain.

I considered social work.

At work as an education specialist for a nonprofit, I asked an 18 year old, fresh out of the foster care system what he wanted to be. He replied, I am not good at playing basketball so either football or a rapper. I wondered where he got the idea that those were his only choices. I wondered if he knew that former foster youth are eligible for free post secondary education.

I considered being a teacher.

During observation hours, I asked an 11 year old black student what he wanted to be when he grew up. “Um, I don’t know, I’m not really good at football so basketball?” My response, OK… what’s your favorite subject? Student: “science”. Me: well, why don’t you continue working toward being in the NBA but while you’re in college- consider studying to get a degree in science. Plenty of athletes do that.” I went home and researched athletes who pursued degrees in the STEM fields and wrote them all down to take to the student the next day. He thanked me and glued the page into his “take home notebook”.

Did I make a huge impact on either of them? Maybe, maybe not. So here I am trying to get started in these fields only to feel like there is a bigger impact to be made. There needs to be understanding, motivation, support, a community, and some follow through.

That birthed Shaping The Early Mind.

Shaping The Early Mind seeks to make science, technology, engineering and mathematics fun for all by creating a safe space for children interested in these subjects, a safe space to grow.

We believe there is no limit to what our children can accomplish when given the right tools.

We offer technological devices, free events for families, tutoring for kids struggling with these subjects, a community of youth STEMpeers, and materials for kids interested in self guided study, design and research.

As a black woman who has finally mustered up the courage to pursue the career I am passionate about, I am running into obstacles. I am feeling unprepared and like I don’t belong. It’s a roller coaster and I often feel that I am the only passenger. While I am actively pursuing my career, I cannot neglect the philanthropic half of me. I do not need to be at my final destination in order to encourage and support kids growing up the way I did. I am more sure of myself now than ever and I strive to use my story to encourage others. I want the little black girls who frequent the juvenile detention centers to know they can make great discoveries and contribute to this world.

Minority youth, youth residing in lower than average income neighborhoods, youth in foster care, and kids living with physical impairments do not get to see or hear success stories about themselves as often as their peers do. They don’t get to just enter a classroom and see a bunch of classmates that share their story or struggle or students who are working hard to change a narrative, break a cycle or just live to be an adult. There isn’t a crowd of people taking them on their word when they express their future career plans. Oftentimes they feel alone, hopeless, and defeated.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Our biggest challenge has been finding a team of passionate and consistent volunteers to help carry out Shaping The Early Mind’s mission.

We’ve been impressed with Shaping The Early Mind Inc., but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Shaping The Early Mind Inc. (501c3) seeks to make science, technology, engineering and mathematics fun for all by creating a safe space for children interested in these subjects, a safe space to grow.

We believe there is no limit to what our children can accomplish when given the right tools.

We offer technological devices, free events for families, tutoring for kids struggling with these subjects, a community of youth STEMpeers, and materials for kids interested in self guided study, design and research.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
We just launched a for profit- Kesho Unltd LLC to cover the cost of events and supplies for our youth. We are looking forward to being able to generate enough in sales to start offering scholarships.

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Beasley Media Group LLC

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