LUMIN Schools recently launched a career exploration program for its 452 middle school students under the direction of La’Ketta Caldwell, Director of the Opportunity Academy. Through this program, students connect with professionals from a variety of industries on a weekly basis through the Lemons 2 Lemonade Leadership Series where leaders share how they have turned life’s “lemons into lemonade” on their own unique career paths. LUMIN is primarily focused on featuring leaders who are people of color. Right now, the leadership series is happening virtually so students and staff across the network can tune in, but next school year the program will include in-person meetings and workplace tours.
As part of this new program, 7th and 8th grade students can apply to become LUMIN Ambassadors, pledging to be a positive influence on their friends, family, school and community. Students who have been selected to participate in this program will gain valuable leadership skills in preparation for high school and beyond. In addition, they will receive incentives like a letter of recommendation, assistance in resume writing, invitations to attend special field trips, and more. At the end of the school year, 8th grade graduates from the program will be awarded a care bag to help set them up for success in high school.
By the end of this academic year, 8th graders in this program will launch their own lemonade business where they will focus on product development, marketing and sales. This project will be an educational competition that also raises money for a local non-profit. 7th graders will create business plans and present them as if on the show Shark Tank. The winning team will receive prizes that will further their education.
Do you know someone who would enjoy sharing their education and career journeys with our scholars? (Maybe it's you!) If so, please contact La’Ketta Caldwell at [email protected] for more information.
MEET THE DIRECTOR
LUMIN Schools is thrilled to welcome La’Ketta Caldwell as its first Director of the Opportunity Academy. In this role, La'Ketta operates LUMIN Schools’ new network-wide career exploration program.
La'Ketta joins LUMIN with rich experience in youth development, and program creation, as well as a vast network of community connections. She spent the past 13 years at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, most recently as the Director of the Arts program. Her efforts to use the arts to help youth deal with trauma has garnered local and national media attention, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside funding. In addition, she has worked tirelessly to give underserved youth access to people, places and experiences that will broaden their world views and give them a platform for their voices to be heard. As a result, youth in her programs challenged the outside perceptions that both labeled and limited them based on their ZIP code, skin color or economic status.
She has a gift for creating partnerships. If you know La'Ketta, you’ve likely heard her say many times, “My babies deserve the best.” This philosophy has compelled her to form partnerships with the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Film, business leaders, politicians, foundations and many others who fostered life-changing opportunities for “her babies.” For example, her plea for support to send Club members to Washington D.C. for an educational trip was answered by former Senator Herb Kohl who paid for hundreds of Club members to spend a week in Washington D.C., including at the most recent presidential inauguration.
La'Ketta is a sought-after speaker, facilitator and performer. In 2016, she was chosen to give a TEDx Talk. She was a Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Training Associate, and she consults, offering training on team-building, social justice and social-emotional learning. She has also been a featured performer on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee. In 2020, she published her first book, I Am Not Your Superwoman. La'Ketta is an adjunct professor at UW-Milwaukee and was named one of Milwaukee Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 in 2015.