WriteBrained increases self-efficacy in youth by using the power of written expression and unique cultural experiences
As a college student at Morehouse College, Nic Aziz traveled and studied in 15 different countries and was the Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper. Armed with the awareness of how transformational traveling and writing had been in his own life, Nic set out to found WriteBrained–a youth development program that seeks to increase self-efficacy by utilizing the power of written expression and unique cultural experiences. Nic hoped to create the space for students from New Orleans to travel and have new experiences which they could explore through writing.
Nic joined 4.0 School’s Essentials Fellowship with an idea on a piece of paper–no more than 2 or 3 paragraphs outlining the description of his idea and a few bullet pointed core values. At Essentials camp in New Orleans, Nic got coaching on how to clarify who were the students he wanted to serve and what was the problem he wanted to solve. By the time he finished Essentials Camp, Nic had a plan in hand to run his first pop up of his idea, taking a group of students on a trip where they first went to the scene of the Alton Sterling shooting and then driving just 15 minutes to LSU. Students, without any prompting, immediately noticed the racial and economic disparities between the economically depressed and mostly African American area where Sterling died and the mostly white and economically privileged university neighborhood. Student writing and feedback during the trip confirmed his belief that experiencing new environments combined with writing would unlock student curiosity and that the act of writing would give students a new sense of personal empowerment. With data showing that students would engage with WriteBrained, Nic was ready to test his idea in a more extended way.
With his pop-up completed, Nic had a new set of questions he needed answers to. How should he measure the impact of WriteBrained on students? Would schools be interested in partnering with WriteBrained? Nic needed a way to test his idea over a longer period of time with a consistent group of students. Nic joined the Tiny Fellowship and the 4.0 Team coached Nic to build a pilot that would help him test and get answers each of these key questions.
Upon starting the Tiny Fellowship, Nic began planning for his first pilot. He identified a partner in a local public school who taught technical writing and who could recruit interested students. For the first academic year, the WriteBrained group would meet every other week for 1.5 hours after school and take one trip per month. At the end of the semester, Nic was able to validate both of his key questions. Students spoke about feeling empowered to be, share, and explore themselves and the school was excited to have someone from outside the school engaging students. Nic knew he was onto something when he saw the Co-Principals of the school wearing WriteBrained t-shirts.
“The Tiny Fellowship provided me with the financial and emotional support that I needed to take WriteBrained to the next level. I think as entrepreneurs it’s even more important that we surround ourselves with other creative and courageous people to help us in our process – and Tiny did that and so much more.”
Nic graduated from the Tiny Fellowship with a new partnership and growing interest in WriteBrained. His pilot school has now officially partnered with WriteBrained to be one of its “smartclubs” that students can opt into and Nic is receiving interest from multiple other schools to do something similar. Right now, he’s focused on getting schools to pay him for his services and ensuring that he’s able to maintain the quality of the program now that he’s embedded in the school more directly.