High school years can be a challenging phase for young people. It’s a time when teens grapple with self-discovery, finding their place, and envisioning their future. As a homeschooled teen, Yusuf Seward was no different. Though he didn’t experience the conventional pressures of navigating school hallways, he struggled with confidence and lacked the typical social interactions of his peers. However, participating in After School Matters programs allowed Yusuf to discover his voice, gain confidence, and realize his leadership potential.
Yusuf shared, “ASM allowed me to enhance my collaboration skills, something I hadn’t fully developed due to being homeschooled. It showed me the power of working with others towards a common goal.”
Over his three years at ASM, Yusuf honed his creative and technical abilities in videography and filmmaking programs and discovered his passion for coding. This spring, Yusuf’s ASM instructor encouraged him to attend The Hidden Genius Project Tech Slam Chicago event held at our Gately Park facility. Attending the event proved pivotal, leading to a role as an Innovation Educator Intern with The Hidden Genius Project, which then turned into a full-time staff position.
Mary Ellen Caron, CEO of After School Matters, stated, “Yusuf’s journey shows what is possible when we provide our teens with the opportunity, support, and mentorship to create a bright future for themselves and their community. Through programs like ours and The Hidden Genius Project, teens can discover the confidence, passion, and skills that pave the way for college, careers, and the ability to inspire others.”
The Hidden Genius Project is a national not-for-profit that trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities. Based in Oakland, California, they recently launched their new site and first youth mentorship cohort in Chicago, with Yusuf as one of their first employees.
According to Yusuf, “ASM provided invaluable practical job experience essential for teenagers transitioning into the professional world. My program participation prepared me for my role at The Hidden Genius Project.”
In his current role, Yusuf mentors and educates Black boys and young men on the transformative potential of coding. His personal experiences enable him to connect with teens, nurturing their talents and helping them believe that they can make an impact in the tech world. “Working with The Hidden Genius Project and mentoring young minds has been incredibly fulfilling. Being able to introduce concepts and witness that ‘aha’ moment when they grasp a concept is truly rewarding.”
In October, Yusuf joined The Hidden Genius Project in London to host Tech Slam UK. This experience broadened his horizons and exposed him to a wider world (literally) of possibilities. He aspires to attend college and pursue a career in entrepreneurship.
Dr. Brandon Nicholson, CEO of The Hidden Genius Project, shares, “Yusuf Seward is one of the most impressive young people I have ever had the honor of meeting, and it has been a tremendous benefit for us to have his brilliance and youthful energy join our staff in Chicago. What’s more, he is a living, breathing example of how enthusiastic collaboration between mission-driven community organizations serves not only to benefit individuals but also to produce an impactful ripple effect throughout their communities, extending well beyond our reach.”
We can’t wait to see what’s next for Yusuf – and for the teens he inspires.