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At Sparks Mindset, our vision is to help break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness in underrepresented communities. Our mission is to spark opportunity by increasing access to transformative technology careers.

At Sparks Mindset, our vision is to help break the cycle of poverty and hopelessness in underrepresented communities. Our mission is to prepare middle and high school students for cybersecurity careers.

Spark Mindset offers educational programs to give kids – particularly kids of color and girls – opportunities to learn and earn credentials in the field of cybersecurity. Beyond enriching in-school and out-of-school time through game-based learning, Spark Mindset creates opportunities for economic mobility by increasing the number of kids of color and girls who find their way in a predominantly white, rapidly growing tech field.

Why do you do what you do?

When I was growing up, I never felt like I fit in. Then I got saved at my church, and I felt I had finally found a community that believed in me. As I got older and started doing more things, I realized I was being given opportunities that other people, especially in the black community, were not being given. People with my background were ending up in jail. My brother spent time in jail. He’s not there now, but it damaged him. Other people end up killing or getting killed. They don’t have hope for a better future. I understand what that hopelessness looks like. Luckily, I was able to join the military. There I received years of counseling and gained the confidence to move from hopeless to hopeful. If I had that help when I was 15/16, it would have made a big difference in my life. I want to help kids have the opportunities I didn’t have. I want to prepare them to survive and thrive in a world that will try to keep them down.

I believe in what STEM offers because a lot of people in Black communities don’t have access to adequate Virtual Reality, cybersecurity or coding resources. Only three percent of African-Americans graduate high school with this type of education, and only three percent of that three percent actually graduate from college. I want to help those numbers grow. I want to break that cycle one kid at a time and inspire those kids to help others when their time comes.

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Sparks Mindset | Lawrence Wagner

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