Behind the scenes of Innovate X

Jan. 5, 2021, 3:42 p.m. | By Medhanit Desta | 3 years, 5 months ago

A look into Blair’s new chapter in the Entrepreneurship program.

Have you ever wondered why school doesn’t focus on teaching students how to do taxes, manage money, or get out of student debt? A reason why is the general conception that the government shouldn’t mandate things like graduation requirements. Maryland non-profit, Innovate X works to change the high school curriculum so more students graduate with excellent financial literacy skills while encouraging entrepreneurial minds.

Innovate X was founded by Richard Montgomery High school junior, Katie Yuan. In less than a year, Yuan's organization has established chapters all over the world from Indonesia, India, to Egypt, to Blair high school. Through afterschool programs, econ watch (official blog), and many programs, Innovate X advocates for more opportunities to be given to students in order for them to become financially literate and responsible. 

The Beginning

Sixteen-year-old Katie Yuan began developing Innovate X when quarantine began and the economy started to suffer even more. “During that time, I would often see in the news that the economy is going into a recession and millions of people are losing their jobs. I’m just thinking that schools from across the country and especially Montgomery county too don't really account for personal finance,” Yuan says. 

Yuan would often ask herself: What can she do to help out this issue? Yuan argues that school often doesn’t prepare students for the future. She explains that only 24% of millennials demonstrate basic financial literacy skills. . “During school we have math, english, social studies, science, but when we go into the real world [these subjects will barely help students]. What are the chances that you're going to need to know how to graph a parabola unless you are an engineer or in a math related occupation?” Yuan continues. 

After realizing the problem, Yuan contacted multiple nonprofits advocating for financial literacy. These include MD Cash Campaign, Financial Beginnings, Jumpstart, Chris Do, and Fulphil. Using her connections, Yuan was able to find dedicated team members to help her run Innovate X. She then began brainstorming ways that her organization can accomplish the goal of greater financial literacy. After finishing the legal paperwork (IRS Tax Exempt 503c status + Incorporation) and creating the Innovate X website/social media, Yuan’s journey had come to an official start. Through setting short-term and long-term goals, Yuan was able to quickly grow her non-profit. 

The Present

Juniors Hawon Lee and Emily Liu started Montgomery Blair’s chapter of Innovate X. “We first found out about the Innovate X organization [over the summer] and we wanted to get involved. We decided to start a chapter at Blair where we can branch out and get more schools/students to know about the organization,” Lee explains. As the Blair chapter's presidents, Lee and Liu also serve on the non-profit organization's executive board. 

Currently Innovate X is working on Project Finance and the Incubator Program. Project Finance “consists of students who are willing to testify for the organization and advocate for the inclusion of financial classes in the schools curriculum so that more students will be exposed to these skills before they leave high school,” Lee explains.  

The Incubator Program “gets students into submitting a start-up idea. The students then get mentors to get advice on how to start their start-up. Later on they’re gonna pitch their ideas and then in June, the funds will start for their project,” Liu states. 

As chapter presidents, Lee and Liu organize discussions on ways Blair students can get involved (with the community) and conduct InnovateX's main projects on a local level. "We host a lot of different programs which can adhere to the needs of different students makes it really special, especially if you are interested in different parts of entrepreneurship or starting a business,” Lee says.

Chapter members mainly stick to writing about the economy. “Right now we are working on publishing articles and creating graphics for those articles. The articles have three categories that they go into. One of them is talking about the current economic situation. Another one is advice for other youth entrepreneurs, and the last one is doing exclusive interviews with founders of other youth-wide organizations,” Liu states. 

The publications team consist of writers and graphic designers. The Education team makes the curriculums for the after-school programs. The public relations team is in charge of the organization's social media. The financial team applies for grants and reaches out to potential sponsors. The International outreach team works to reach marginalized populations that are in need and make sure that they are heard and included. They do this by conducting workshops and establishing numerous projects for greater inclusion. 

If you have dreams of being an entrepreneur, consider joining Innovate X. Executive meetings are bi-weekly while Chapter meetings are monthly. Anyone is free to join the Chapter at any time they’d like. Executive team applications only come once a year so keep a look out for those on the organizations website, Innovate X. 

Last updated: Feb. 6, 2021, 3:44 p.m.

Medhanit Desta. Hi! I'm Medhanit and I am a junior at Blair. Outside of SCO, I like to play sports and write. More »

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