STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) expertise is crucial to the success of individuals, families, communities, and entire countries. Unfortunately, many people lack access to effective STEAM education and experiences, and this lack of access often results in severely limited career options. The vitality of an entire community can suffer when STEAM expertise is lacking.
The Lab Drawer® founders Alecia Gabriel and Deirdre Roberson started their company because, as black STEM professionals and artists, they envision a world in which black and brown excellence in STEAM fields is commonplace. I first met Alecia and Deirdre when I served as their coach for Detroit Demo Day 2021. I was immediately drawn to their expertise, energy, and dedication. Here were two professional women with advanced degrees in chemistry who chose to eschew the corporate ladder, where they were each achieving significant success, to solve an important problem in their community. Their story resonated with me because I and my co-founders Steve Moore and Charles Simmons also left our prestigious and lucrative corporate jobs to start a company.
Alecia and Deirdre seized upon an important and challenging assignment. In the U.S., many young people are under-achieving in STEAM fields. The problem is especially acute in black and brown communities. For example, blacks make up only 2.4% of U.S. scientists and engineers working in science and engineering occupations. For Hispanics, the statistic is 3%. This underrepresentation is especially evident in the founders’ hometown of Detroit, Michigan. STEAM underachievement usually results in poor academic performance, loss of confidence and self-esteem, severely restricted career options and prospects, and lower family wealth.
Enter The Lab Drawer®
The Lab Drawer® kit delivers turnkey STEAM experiences. Each kit provides an engaging, hands-on STEAM experience that video lessons alone cannot replicate. Every Lab Drawer® experience blends the STEAM components – science, technology, engineering, arts, math – in an engaging and culturally relevant way. The Lab Drawer® founders spent years engaging directly with Detroit youth, many from underserved communities. They then determined the lesson designs most effective with their target audience. The Lab Drawer® kits are culturally relevant and fun, and they align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to ensure appropriate academic value.
An Aggressive Business Model
Alecia and Deirdre employ a business-to-business approach to get The Lab Drawer® kits into the hands of as many young people as possible. They work with corporate partners and committed youth service organizations to get their solution distributed widely, at no cost or low cost to the recipient families. They have shipped many thousands of kits to young people throughout the U.S. and in several other countries. This March 2022 news story on WXYZ-TV Detroit gives a neat summary of The Lab Drawer® business. Their success has only grown since the story was presented.
If you know of an organization that would like to help transform lives and communities by closing the STEAM access gap, simply reply to this story or send an email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.