Diversity Talks evolved into a limited liability company that serves as a platform for student voice with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Highlander Institute’s Startup Weekend Education Providence (SWEDU), Rhode Island took place Fall 2016 with the objective for teams to create innovations that would address educational disparities.
Kiara Butler, Taliq Tillman, and Taiwo Demola, entered SWEDU with ideas from different focal points however found common interest in tackling the same issue: the silencing of student voice through the misrepresentation of their identities.
From an educator perspective, Kiara strongly believed that the current training structure for educator professional development exhausted all options around the topic of diversity. As a black lesbian, she has attended hours of diversity professional development led by cisgender white men and women but in reality the most diverse populations are the students and their voices should be brought to the forefront by leading the professional development. Taliq on the other hand, knew that he wanted to create empathy in classrooms while Taiwo felt that a shared online platform would engage educators and students more effectively.
Combining these ideas, the team spent 54 hours brainstorming solutions that would bring the voices of marginalized populations to the forefront, completely dismantling traditional education. Instead of creating a business pitch for a nonprofit or for-profit organization during SWEDU, the team took a different approach to evoke change on a systemic level and created a policy mandate for professional development to be enforced by the Rhode Island Department of Education. This idea claimed Crowd Favorite during the Pitch Fest and gave the team the momentum to continue to push the idea forward .
In 2017, Diversity Talks evolved into a limited liability company that serves as a platform for student voice with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Want to know how you can get involved with Diversity Talks? Contact Kiara at firstname.lastname@example.org.