Let’s Innovate Through Education (LITE) equips African American and Latinx students with the skills, connections, and capital to create wealth. Since its launch four years ago, it has empowered 2000 high school students with entrepreneurship education.

Program Director Pamela Urquieta explains that LITE’s six-month high school curriculum concentrates on building the core skills that students need to become entrepreneurs. Program leaders and mentors start with helping students find something they are passionate about. Then, students use these business skills to find an innovative solution to a problem in their community. Pamela loves seeing the increased confidence in her students that results from this skill building.

After the high school program, students continuing as LITE fellows are matched with competitive, paid internships while in college and, upon graduation, will be provided with access to networking for high-wage jobs or start-up coaching as well as access to capital for their own businesses. In 2016, Forbes named LITE “one of the 20 ideas that can change the world.”

Hardy Farrow, founder of LITE, and also one of Forbes “30 Under 30” in Education for 2017, tells us that he decided to work to close the racial wealth gap when he was in his second year as a Teach for America teacher. He was frustrated that students who were performing well in school did not seem to be succeeding in life. Hardy believes that access to wealth creates equality of opportunity and is the key to transforming a community. He thinks that the multi-year interventions of LITE will grow the capacities of young entrepreneurs of color in this community where less than 2% of business revenue currently comes from minority-owned businesses.

Hardy hopes that his students are more successful than “everyone who works for LITE.” He adds, “when I got on the Forbes list, I said to myself, ‘if one of our students gets on the Forbes list, then I know I’ve done everything that I was supposed to do,’ because then they’ve achieved the same things that a person of privilege has.”