In The Bronx, startups partner with high schools to create a new apprenticeship model for education
MetaBronx is a startup accelerator and entrepreneurship education program that helps startup companies grow by investing in them. MetaBronx works with companies such as The Glass Files which is run by CEO Sarah Poyet.
The Glass Files is a website in which you can post stories about your family through photographs, videos and other media and connect them to History. When you enter this website you can read amazing stories and see stunning photographs that have been shared about people’s families and their History. Many times you can even relate to their stories and experiences.
“I enjoy being my own boss but it’s also very difficult… What motivates me is my grandfather’s story and the fear that if we don’t learn about History, we will repeat the mistakes of the past. It’s easy to sink into hopelessness and cynicism, but the question is do we believe in progress or not? Simple as that. That’s why History is important. It is for our own future. If there is no learning about the past how will we have a positive future?” – Sarah Poyet
MetaBronx and The Glass Files work together to give us new experiences and create new stories about ourselves that we can document on The Glass Files.
We have also been able to network with significant institutions that exercise lots of power such as UBS, a Swiss investment bank where we met people who work in different departments and even the COO of the company, Barry Hurewitz. While we were there we did a speed mentoring session in which we got to go around and ask the employees questions about what they do and how they got there.
We also went to the headquarters of the United Nations. Thanks to Juan Reyes, a senior security officer, we got an exclusive tour of the whole building. We went inside the conference rooms where world leaders talk about their issues, and we went to the garden, which is ordinarily off limits to visitors. The garden is a place where gifts given to the U.N. from other countries are displayed. It’s not everyday you see gifts from other countries like the “Sleeping Elephant” given to them by Kenya or the “Japanese Peace Bell” given to them by Japan.
Now getting into more of what we do inside the workplace. We work in multiple groups: media production, software development, hardware, marketing, and writing.
The Media Production team is currently working on a project called Bronx Senior Storytellers where small groups of students go to the Mid-Bronx Senior Center and record interviews there. The seniors always welcome them with warm smiles and they always have so many stories to tell that it’s incredible. Hearing Stella Savage who was directly affected by racism, Ann DeVaughn, and how she was part of a labor union, Mary Smith and her travel from Ghana to America, and Nina Allen and how she felt about Martin Luther King Jr.’s death was inspiring; you really connect to the seniors and what they have been through.
“I enjoy being an apprentice to Sarah because she’s outgoing and at the same time proper when using the editing software. She has really taught me the way of trial and error. I feel like the first 2 weeks I was gonna do nothing and I wanted to do editing. But then after the first 2 weeks I started having to work extremely hard just because it’s my passion.” – Anthony Carty
The Marketing team focuses on posting stories for The Glass Files about trips, work days, and day to day experiences. They have put together a thank you letter to UBS, invitations to community members to come visit the work site on Presentation Day, and they are also posting on different social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and Instagram. It’s nice to use other social media platforms for education purposes and not just for fun.
“I’ve learned how to use different social media websites and it has helped me develop social skills and how to share information more efficiently.” – Shamar Folkes
The Writing team works on the writing aspect of different projects such as a Corporate Social Responsibility document where we acted as CEOs and had to manage a group while writing it. We also helped the Media team on transcribing footage of the seniors, and the Marketing team with posting on The Glass Files. The Writing team has also been working on assignments like writing narratives of interviews with people like Stella Savage from the Mid-Bronx Senior Home and Esmarlin Fernandez, a student from BASE, and then posting it on The Glass Files.
“The writing team has been a learning experience and has taught me many skills in the aspect of writing. The corporate social responsibility document was a big project for us. I found out that writing isn’t as easy as most people think.” – Joseph Vito
The Software Development team brainstormed ideas to fix bugs on The Glass Files website. The team then sends that information to the senior developers to code and fix the website based on the analysis they came up with. An example of an issue we solved is a notification error that wouldn’t let you know that you’ve been invited to a Family. Those small flaws can drastically affect your experience on the website so that is what we aim to fix.
“A challenge has been finding a way to a fix a problem… I find that the information I learned here has been useful because if I get a job in coding I can use what I learned.” – Shaheed Ganie
The Hardware team is a small group that keeps all the computer and media equipment in good working order, and helps with fixing up the building both inside and outside. The Hardware team doesn’t have a set office space, they are based in the hallway so they can rapidly get the necessary tools and go wherever their skills are needed for everyone’s work to continue smoothly.
Their biggest projects were to configure the work site’s computer network to connect all the laptops, doing partial refurbishing of one of the local file servers, upgrading the lighting and ventilation systems in the bathrooms, and building a suspended shelf in the music studio.
“My biggest challenge was coming early, from nine to two, and another problem was our supervisor being strict – but a type of strictness that i hadn’t experienced before, more productive. I also had a problem with adjusting to a new personality.” – Edryan Canario
We have learned an immense amount during our time at MetaBronx. Being in this program has helped us develop new skills. Like any new experience, we had ups and downs. In general we were all really overwhelmed working in a new environment, working with new adults that aren’t familiar to us. This job has helped us learn what to do and expect in the real world when we’ll have to go out into the workforce. We are so lucky that we have this amazing opportunity to be involved here and to work with extraordinary people!
Story by the Writing team: Tomi Adetunji, Joseph Vito, Christian Pavia, Esmarlin Fernandez, Edryan Canario.
Media preparation by the Media production team: Anthony Carty, Jonairy Castro Audain, Ruth Mejia, managed by Alondra Flores.
Event production and business development by the Marketing team: Dylan Montero-Zamora, Emely Leon, Ijay Browne, Jose Mejia, Mohammed Islam, managed by Sha’nya Pereira.
Liaison between Marketing and Software teams: Shamar Folkes, Iyani Walcott.
Coding and technical implementation by the Software team: Edward Yeboah, Handruliz Nova, Joshua Otto, Muhfasul Alam, Shaheed Ganie, William Susman, Yabraj Jassi, managed by Takhim Haque and Elias Gabriel.
Equipment and work space made possible by the Hardware team: Abhishek Heer, Amit Dhar, Jayden Rivera, Freemen Black, William Madigan, managed by Alejandro Daniel.
Special projects (the sanity team): Carlos “Slime” Garcia, Isaiah Lee, Fernando Silverio, Victor Rodriguez, Elias Alvarez.
Photography by Jon Mannion and just generally everyone.
The MetaBronx Summer 2017 program and the MetaBronx Fellows cohort was made possible by a collaboration between:
– CareerCLUE, a joint program between the NYC Department of Education Office of Community Schools and the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development
– Riverdale Country School https://www.riverdale.edu/
– Bronx Academy for Software Engineering (BASE)
– Here to Here https://www.heretohere.org/
– DreamYard https://www.dreamyard.org/
– SoBro https://www.sobro.org/
– scenyc https://www.scenyc.com/
– Mass Ideation https://www.massideation.com/
– Ozzie Coto