We had the good fortune of connecting with Shereka Jackson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shereka, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
Future Stars, Inc is a non profit organization that provides a direct serve to the youth in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. Having a direct serve organization most grant funders want to know how many students you will serve and not all direct serve organization services is about quantity of serve but the quality of serve. Future Stars bring STEM education to inner city youth that would not other wise have the opportunity to explore. Future Stars has always talked about the digital divide and how our youth and families are not equipped to compete in the classroom. When schools closed because of COVID-19 the digital divide was exposed. Non profit organizations are here to help, serve the community and funding is always in short supply.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a Phoenix, native it is my responsible to give back to my community. When I was in the seventh-grade I was exposed to computers. I loved to work on cars with my cousins and working on computers just fell in line with that. I attended the University of Arizona and majored in Management Information System and Operational Management. I have work as an IT professional for 20 years in local government, as well as mentoring youth and serving the community for over 25 years. I started mentoring youth while in college and continued by coaching high school girls’ basketball for 7 years after graduating from college. While coaching, I noticed that students were not prepare to attend college after high school and that there was a lack of STEM education that was being provided to inner city youth. In 2008, I founded Future Stars, Inc a nonprofit that provides opportunities for inner city youth to achieve their goals of higher education with a focus of sport and technology. Future Stars has provided mentorship of student athlete to prepare them for college to play sports or just attend college. We also host internet safety workshops throughout the community to promote safe usage of computers. In 2015 we launched the Hands On STEM program at the Faye Gray Recreation Center and the Hands On STEM fair. The program is a nine month programs that exposes inner city youth to STEM education with activities that are fun, engaging and promotes critical thinking. The Hands On STEM program is currently in two community centers and has approximately 60 students that attend each year. There have been over 900 attendees to the Hands On STEM Fair that takes place the last Saturday in April every year. We will continue to provide STEM education to the South Phoenix community to make sure they know that they are smart enough and can have a STEM career.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If a friend was visiting me I would take them to Sedona to enjoy the beauty of Gods work, in seeing the red rocks. We would also visit Jerome, AZ for the great restaurants to eat out and great shops to shop at. We would go hiking because it allows you to clear your mind and get centered and enjoy being outside. Each day during the week would be to visit the small towns of Arizona that have some history and great for site seeing. I am the type to not have a schedule that is too busy because I would like us to just relax and enjoy each other so I may have a spa day in there.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to shoutout my mom for her support of Future Stars over the last 12 years and all the work she does in the back ground, The Future Stars board members current and past that have helped to grow it to where it is now serving youth with the Hands On STEM program and the Hands On STEM Fair. There are lots of friends that take the time out of their schedule daily, monthly and yearly to volunteer and donate to Future Stars. One of my mentors Carolyn Bristo Chatman has pushed me to keep moving forward evening we were not receiving funding. THANK YOU to all supports of Future Stars known and unknown. We Love You and could not do this without you.