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Indianapolis Gets BRAVE

When KSM Consulting’s Jess Carter and BraveCamp’s Chicago co-founder Jen Kamins talked about how to expand Brave Initiatives’ reach, Jess immediately knew KSMC was the perfect initial Hoosier host for this innovative and empowering young women’s leadership and technology camp.

Why? Because KSMC’s values couldn’t have lined up more perfectly with the mission and vision of Brave Initiatives. Their program, BraveCamp, uses technology, coding, and Design Thinking to help young women view themselves as purposeful, powerful agents of change in the world. And as a company that values collaboration and teamwork, the opportunity for KSMC to host Indianapolis’s inaugural camp—in partnership with 20 other Indianapolis organizations—was a perfect fit.

So, the week of July 16-20th, KSMC 111, KSM Consulting’s Office and Innovation Center, was overtaken by 15 high school girls who were immersed in a week-long leadership and technology camp. Throughout the week, they participated in self-exploration, community discussion, empathy development, human-centered design, pitch writing, presentation skills training… and lots of coding.

As the week began, participants were challenged to think about a problem that personally affects them—from food deserts to homelessness to a shortage of enriching after-school activities—and then brainstorm ways to solve that problem through technology. On day two, they researched their topic, interviewed professionals within the community, and began to build a website to communicate their issues and solutions. Mid-week meant coding, coding, and more coding. As the week came to a close, participants prepared to pitch their ideas to family members, friends, teachers, camp sponsors, volunteers, and the general public. Saturday, July 21st was the big presentation, pitch, and party.

During the week, BraveCamp participants experienced two panelist discussions—Women in Government and Women Entrepreneurs and Leaders. Participating panelists included female executives, CEOs, and entrepreneurs from across the city.

The goal?

It’s simple, Jess explains: “It’s about exposure. We want every one of these girls to know they could have a corner office at Google or run their own technology start-up. It’s a matter of saying to them, ‘Look at what’s available. And it’s all available to you.’ There’s so much power in just knowing what exists. It gives these girls a solid, tangible vision of what their future could be.”

Not only does BraveCamp inspire and educate its participants, but participants and graduates help bring awareness and understanding to volunteers as well as future employers.

“At KSMC, we know how important diversity it,” Jess explains. “We know that with different backgrounds, different viewpoints, and different experiences, we can ultimately serve our clients better. And the same is true with BraveCamp participants. We saw the impact they had on our volunteers. Eyes and minds were opened when they interacted with these girls, their ideas, and their drive.”

The success of the program is already being measured with some early longitudinal data. “We spend a significant amount of time measuring outcomes at KSMC because we understand, ultimately, the importance of understanding effectiveness,” says Jess. “Three short years into the program, Brave Initiatives founders are already seeing their graduates attend college, break the cycle of familial poverty, and take growth risks they might otherwise not have taken. This program—these girls—could be a necessary catalyst for social and workforce change.”