Karen V. Jenkins Launches “Social Impact Initiative” Scholarship to teach kids about Analytics”

By Erica Faye Watson.

For years we have been talking about the “digital divide” and now more than ever it is clear that students having access to TECH and STEM are crucial to their success. Karen V. Jenkins, A Chicago Research Data expert founded “KidAlytics” to address the educational skills gap that exists between grades 8 thru 12 grade. Her virtual online courses provide analytic training that aids in matriculation into higher education or job placement and expanding and developing understanding of the analytical skills used everyday verbally and non verbally. Karen is committed to the long term goal of equity and equality in education and is launching the “Social Impact Initiative” Scholarships to help students in need participate in her camp.

What is Kidalytics and what inspired you to launch this program?

KidAlytics curates’ analytics educational training for teens in 8-12th grade focused on strategic planning, critical thinking, and social emotional learning. Giving students the skills, tools, and network to work cross discipline to prepare for the future of work and education. KidAlytics was inspired by the lack of representation of black women and people of color in the field of analytics. There was a noticeable gap and pain point that needed to be addressed. There is not a lack of talent, there is a need for equity to gain access to begin to reimagine education to change that reality. By being inclusive it gives perspective to leverage communities’ issues and triumphs to have resources to build cross state and border lines.

What are some examples of ways that Data Analytics affects us in our everyday lives?

Data is King and is used in every second and spit second. The Census is a best example of how data is only collected every 10 years but influences daily life. This data affects everyday life decisions from policies to funding. It takes data on the population, housing, and geographical locations. All this information is compiled and analyzed to determine the number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets. That is why it is so important to capture this data via the Census because we can not wait another 10 years for the investments and policies that communities need today to be skilled and economically stable currently or in the future.

As a young black woman that works in Tech and STEM, what have been some of the obstacles you have faced especially when it comes to diversity? Also, what have been some great things that you have experienced working in this industry.

Some of the obstacles I have overcome with diversity is having to ensure my voice is heard. Often in Tech and STEM it is a white male dominant environment you are going into, learning to navigate those environments professionally is key. Some people will be your champions while others will not and that is OK. Understanding that helps in building those quality relationships that will grow. The biggest asset of working in this industry is meeting some extraordinary professionals doing amazing work and being able to scholarship and collaborate within those like minded networks.

Data Analytics seems so complicated. How do you break it down so that a teenager can not only understand the concepts, but also stay engaged? Is KidAlytics fun?

Data analytics is not that complicated. When you begin at the building block level using skills and interests already acquired. Just as any disciples there are levels and data analytics is no different. We are not jumping into coding and advanced levels of analytics without understanding the basics. For instance, we had the teens take a poll, “Can You Spot Fake News”. From their responses we came up with our own data. Then we looked at the poll national respondent’s responses and responses from teens in some of the states as the students. This further the conversation to misinformation and disinformation of the media. This engages students to critically think about what is being presented to them, plan out a course of action to verify information, and be strategic in how they use information to produce better outcomes. KidAlytics sparks students’ passions.

You say that the jobs of the future do not even exist yet and that young people can be an active participant today in creating jobs for tomorrow. How does understanding data analytics help with workforce outlook.

The workforce outlook is changing every day. We know this because of the data we collect daily and analyze as we talk about the job market. Data analytics has been crucial in building this technology driven world. From predicting trends, showing disinvestments, misuse of funding, innovation and discovery of better outcomes to name a few. When we look at any industry, data analytics is being used now more than ever during COVID-19. Understanding data helps in understanding how to leverage it and with the basics a student can go as far as they would like in analytics. When teens begin to realize and understand their digital street it opens other possibilities in a student’s mind that they then begin to connect.

Tell us about your Social Impact Initiative Scholarship and how people can support you and the students in your program.

The Social Impact Initiative is equity invested in education to help in supporting to build future leaders who otherwise could not receive this education. In re-imaging education, we need Collaborators to help in funding students for the program. Funding for the long-term helps students attend courses, professional development, and certification classes. You can support the Social Impact Initiative by going to www.kidalytics. com and pressing the donation button or you can email me, Karen Jenkins, at kjenkins@kidalytics.com

What is next for you and Kidalytics?

In a world full of possibilities, KidAlytics is steady on the mission of equity to reimage education to achieve equality. Our next move is to continue to increase the offering of our curated curriculum and training nationally. While building our Social Impact Collaborators and Partners to address the lack of access and opportunity. Our goal is to provide this opportunity globally and we are currently building within those communities faced with many social determinants.