logo - stem++ direct logoPre-Apprenticeship & Apprenticeship Programs for Youth and Young Adults

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What We Do
We are an award-winning, youth development intermediary that creates STEM++ based internships, youth entrepreneur opportunities, and service-learning projects by establishing lines of communication between students, schools, volunteers, mentors, nonprofit organizations and local businesses in high-demand STEM++ industries.
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The NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program

“Bridging the gap between applied learning and the digital gaming experience”
Serving Metro Atlanta Since 2008 | A Non-profit (501c3) Organization

The NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program integrates custom Community Involvement Growth Strategy (CIGS) Models and NEXT Steps programming into school improvement plans and/or school-parent involvement policies of Title I and targeted school districts.

As a result, our core functions as a community partner to any organization includes brokering relationships, expanding non-traditional education and skills-development programs and services, increasing program quality, strengthening and supporting after-school programming, and more importantly, providing workforce and trend data research that quantifies social impact and sustainability.

When we created NEXT Steps Partners In Education University, we developed  a community-based online learning management system that provided a flexible employment solution through a digital gaming micro-credentialing system. Consequently, our applied and service–learning programs and activities are able to build and strengthen the 27 competencies that measure a student’s employability based on six key areas of impact and delivery: civic leadership, health & wellness, agricultural technologies & urban design, introduction to STEM++ career pathways, social entrepreneurship & financial literacy, and environmental engineering, exploration & stewardship.

Our Goals

  • Have our instructors serve as Community Engagement Liaisons through the procurement of Title I service contracts, STEM education funding grants, donations, marketing and sales activities and other levels of engagement for each school district or market.
  • Position STEM++ Direct and our service-to-experience conversion model to secure post-secondary educational opportunities, internships, apprenticeships, job placements to generate $3-27MM in revenues for students that wish to go to college, enter the workforce or launch entrepreneurial ventures over the next 3-5 years;
  • Position our new Digital Badge & Skillcoin Rewards System™ as the leading micro-credentialing platform that verifies, shares and manages the actual marketplace value of student achievement of youth and young adults (ages 6-24);
  • Use digital badges, Skillcoin Rewards, STEM++ based Resumes, financial portfolios, personal development assessments, and service-learning projects to help students gain meaningful workforce experiences within 17 high-demand STEM++ career pathways

Our Award-Winning Programs

NSPIE University
Fundraising Goals & Objectives
FY 2017-2022


• Train 100-150 apprentices in person and online (YR1)
• Introduce program to top 100 US school districts
• Create 100 Junior Executive Management Teams; 10-25 members each
• Reduce Metro Atlanta’s youth unemployment by 1.5% (pilot)


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Featured Sections

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Our History

A brief summary of our journey beginning with the development of Atwood Community Gardens to our current day Operation Restoration & Digital Badge & Skillcoin Rewards System™ platform .
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Our Advisory Board

Meet the NEXT Steps Partners In Education whose strategic partnerships fuel our Community Involvement Growth Strategy.
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Georgia Tech Partnership

See how NEXT Steps programming serves as a service-to-experience conversion method for Georgia Tech University’s Serve-Learn-Sustain “50 Big ideas” initiative to create sustainable STEM++ communities.
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“The 17” Legacy Council

We’re creating our very own Justice League! STEM++ professionals, mentors and super awesome people from all 17 high-demand career pathways are invited to join in on the fun.
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Our History

Since 2009, The NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program has used our Agricultural Technologies With Open Outdoor Design (ATWOOD) Model to increase children’s knowledge about where food comes from, how it is grown, the science behind food production, and the impact of food consumption. Our Herb & Farm Summer Internships, CSI Unit: Science Behind Our Food, and Junior Executive Management (JEM) Team Training Programs has introduced over 300 careers within the agriculture, food and natural resources industry to more than 3,000+ students. Furthermore, we teach youth how to form project management teams and serve in leadership positions to manage real urban farms and farmer’s markets. As a result,our Atwood community garden model became a way to inspire youth to design and install their own salsa gardens and outdoor classrooms.

In 2012, we created the NEXT Steps Youth Culinary Internship Program and conceptualized the STEM Fiesta Manufacturing Plant and Taste Test Fundraising Program.  While teaching kids about agriculture, we needed to integrate leadership training, business development, project management, food services, farm production, aggregation, product manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution into our applied and service learning program activities.  Furthermore, our intent was to support, promote and increase student awareness and active participation in the Let’s Move Salad Bars To Schools and Farm To Schools interventions. Our youth-driven, year-round engagement opportunities would:

  • Allow students to operate a real food distribution service site as a Junior Executive Manager of Georgia Express Meals
    Introduce students to 300+ career pathways in the agriculture, food and natural resources industry including those used by Georgia Express Meals
  • Challenge students through interactive games to read the labels of pre-packaged items and locate farm grown foods in the ingredients list.
  • Help students locate, research and invite local community growers and industry-related businesses to their taste test event
  • Help students increase their leadership and STEM++ skills through our new digital badge & skillcoins rewards system, and
    Teach students how to design and install a salsa garden to grow and sell their own salsa varieties as a youth marketplace enterprise
  • Challenge students to host the ultimate salsa showdown – their garden grown salsa recipe vs. a commercial salsa product that’s currently on the market.

Unfortunately, in 2014, we were forced to deconstruct and relocate the farm so our program was abruptly halted. The relocation allowed us to rethink our role in education and look at the broader contributions our programs made in terms of workforce development. By 2015, we had our first real digital badge prototype posted on our website for mass promotion and distribution.

Now, in FY 2017, we are in the process of completing the build-out of the remaining infrastructure for NSPIE University and are securing community partners to pilot the official launch of our entire online learning management system and Digital Badge & Skillcoin Rewards Micro-Credentialing System™. Our fundraising goal for our NSPIE University launch is to raise $297k for startup by September 1, 2017 and $841k by August 2018 for a fully staffed operation.

To become a donor or sponsor of NSPIE University and our Digital Badge & Skillcoin Rewards System, please contact Dana Jewel Harris by email: donations@nextstepsyep.org or call/text @ 678.570.0398.

Provide your name and email address to receive updates and notifications regarding our JEM Team service-learning projects, Community Connections volunteer opportunities, and our Corporate Kid special events and activities..
We hate spam too so your email address will NEVER be sold or shared with anyone else.

Our New Strategic Partnership With Georgia Tech University

Georgia Tech University has been an active community and well-respected university-level research partner of The NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program since 2012. Let us create an Operation Restoration service-learning project for your youth group, club, association, community organization, for-profit business or non-profit organization.

Reaching Out To Those That Need A Hand Up

Our Executive Leadership Team & Advisory Board

Our Executive Advisory Board is comprised of STEM++ career professionals that are passionate about developing the next generation of skilled, community leaders and strengthening our Partners In Education network. 

Dana Jewel Harris


NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program

| | |

Dr. Terry Segovis


NEXT Steps Partners In Education University


Clifton Powell


“The 17” Legacy Council

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Chris Burke

Government & Community Relations Director

NSPIE Partner
The Fab Lab Community Development Research Center

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Dr. Nicole LaBeach


NSPIE Partner
STEM++ Direct Youth Staffing Division

| | |

Oliver Dorsey


NSPIE Partner
College Town Communities


Courtney Counts

Managing Director, Social Innovation

NSPIE Partner
STEM++ Direct Media

| | |

Blair Anderson

Executive Director

NSPIE Partner
NEXT Steps Partners In Education Network

| | |

Angelia Reddick

Founding Partner

NSPIE Partner
NSPIE University IT Division

Baba “Yoga” Bey

Outreach Coordinator

NSPIE Partner
Holistic Food Systems Network

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Dr. Jean-Paul Bonhomme


NSPIE Partner
Holistic Food Systems Network

Tixie Fowler

Executive Director

NSPIE Partner
Holistic Food Systems Network

| |

John Reed

Program Director

NSPIE Partner
Operation Restoration Service-Learning Projects

| | |

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Candidates for "The 17" Legacy Council

Members of “The 17” Legacy Council are charged with engaging in at least three of the following activities:

  • Becoming a NEXT Steps Partner In Education (requires annual membership fee)
  • Strengthening our relationships with industry-specific STEM++ career professionals within their College Town Community
  • Maintaining a bridge of communication between students, educators and the current workforce marketplace
  • Sponsoring or participating in an Operation Restoration service-learning project
  • Hosting one (1) Investor/Mentor Meetup per year
  • Using their network to sponsor three (3) Digital Badge Galleries per year (galleries = $2,180 ea)
  • Providing CSI Tips via blog posts, photos, videos, recorded video chats, audio recordings, or guest appearances to our CSI TRENDS Blog regarding trends within their industry
  • Participating in or hosting a 17 Legacy Council Superhero Photoshoot (to reveal your and your network’s superhero STEM++ powers IN FULL COSTUME)

View The Arts & Film Legacy Council
Celebrity Film & Industry Music Day @ Atlanta Job Corps Event   Flyer | Guest Bios

Join The Legacy Council of Your STEM++ Industry Today!

Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources

Agribusiness Systems, Animal Systems, Environmental Service Systems, and Food Products & Processing Systems

Join “The 17”

Architecture & Construction

Architecture, Design, Pre-Construction, Construction and Maintenance/Operations

Join “The 17”

Art, A/V Technologies & Communications

A/V Technology & Film, Printing, Visual & Performing Arts, Journalism & Broadcasting, and Telecommunications

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Business Management & Administration

Business Information Management, Human Resources Management, and Operations Management

Join “The 17”

Education & Training

Administration & Administrative Support, Professional Support Services, Teaching and Training

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Film, Digital Media & Entertainment

Film, Vector/3D/4D Graphic Arts, Digital & Gaming Technologies, Social Media, SEO, Sports & Music Distribution Channels

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Securities & Investments, Business Finance, Accounting, Insurance & Banking Services

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Government & Policy Administration

Governance, National Security, Foreign Service, Planning, Revenue & Taxation and Regulation

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Green Energy & Sustainable Technologies

Solar, Smart Grid, Wind, Biomass, Batteries, Fuel Cells and LEED Certifications

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Health Sciences

Therapeutic, Diagnostic and Support Services, Health Informatics, and Biotechnology Research & Development

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Hospitality& Tourism

Restaurants & Food/Beverage Services, Lodging, Travel & Tourism, Recreation, Amusements & Attractions

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Human Services

Early Childhood Development, Counseling & Mental Health, Family & Community, Personal and Consumer Care Services

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Information Technology

Network Systems, Information Support & Services, Web & Digital Communications and Programming & Software Development

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Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security

Correction Services, Emergency, Fire Management, Law Enforcement, Legal, Security & Protective Services

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Production, Manufacturing, Process Development, Maintenance, Installation & Repair and Quality Assurance

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Management, Communications & Research, Professional Sales and Merchandising

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STEM++ Industries

Engineering & Technology,Science & Mathematics

Join “The 17”

Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Transportation Operations, Logistics Planning & Management Services, and Warehousing & Distribution Center Operations

Join “The 17”

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