MISSION-DRIVEN STORY & TIMELINE
"OUR MISSION IS TO INCREASE THE READING AND LEARNING PROFICIENCY RATES OF EVERY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KID."
Kyle Christian Steele, Founder
2012 - 2014:
The Fern Creek Coding Program was a volunteer initiative started by Kyle and a few of his friends at a local elementary school in Orlando, Florida. The goal of the program was to teach a group of 14 gifted fifth graders how to code. During the first few sessions, Kyle noticed that the students showed low enthusiasm about the opportunity to learn the coding process. As he tried to address this issue, there was a discovery that 80% of the students were from low-income families, and 20% of them were homeless. As a result, it was determined that many of them were uninterested in the long-term value proposition of coding because they were preoccupied with immediate life concerns and conditions, such as a lack of food, shelter, and stability.
Growing up in Detroit, Kyle identified with the complex dynamics that impacted the students. As a result, he asked each of them to write a story about their thoughts and feelings as a way of helping them cope with the emotional fallout from their traumatic and stressful life experiences. Once the students were finished writing, Kyle asked them to draw their stories, and then transform the drawing into an animated movie. To create their animations, the students had to learn how to use Alice, a program which makes it easy to create a moving animation by teaching them how to code through a 3D programming environment. As a result of this new approach, the students learned basic coding, their enthusiasm about the program greatly increased, and they learned a new method for helping them cope with difficult life circumstances. Due to the success of the first year, the program was expanded to all fourth and fifth graders for consecutive school years.
2014 - 2015:
Given the success of the Fern Creek Coding Program, principals and teachers from other elementary schools across Orange County Public Schools began to request the program for their locations. Due to the lack of resources required to sustain itself, such as funding and personnel, the volunteer operation was incapable of servicing the increased demand. Understanding these challenges and having a strong desire to live more fully in his life's mission, Kyle shut down his existing technology startup and, with the help of John Rivers, founder of 4 Rivers Smokehouse, he dedicated 100% of his time to turning the Fern Creek Coding Program into SourceCode B46, a for-profit company.
During the retooling process, Kyle and his team decided that SourceCode B46 could continue to introduce elementary students to coding and could also better align with classroom objectives. This structure allowed the storytelling process of the program to simultaneously enhance students' comprehension and reading skills. After several months of work, the first SourceCode B46 classes were launched in September 2014 for grades three through five at Fern Creek Elementary, Lakemont Elementary, Princeton Elementary, Dommerich Elementary, The Orlando Science Center, and Nap Ford Community School. Over the next year, SourceCode B46 expanded into other classrooms across Orange County Public Schools; including the YMCA and the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation. Eventually, the company served over 1300 students, accumulated approximately 21K hours of instruction time, and employed 11 instructors to facilitate on-site and online classes.
2016 - Present:
2016 - Present: Kyle's ultimate goal was to scale SourceCode B46 into every classroom in the United States, but he noticed during the growth process that the quality of the program decreased and the cost increased. As a result, after a year and a half, SourceCode B46 was shut down and Kyle went back to the drawing board. Relying on the experiences from his past tech startups, the Fern Creek Coding Program, SourceCode B46, his friend and co-founder, Himanshu "Heman" Pagey, and board, Learn Jelly was launched in January 2016.
Unlike his previous education ventures, which focused on offering in-school and online classes which taught elementary students how to code through storytelling, Learn Jelly focused on assisting K-5 Learning Guardians in achieving their mission. Their mission is to help students learn academic concepts and improve reading and 21st-century skills through storytelling, art, and computer science. As a result of this shift, over 600 teachers and 14,000 students from 43 states and Canada signed up to participate in the pilot within 42 days of the program announcement in January 2016. In August of 2016, Learn Jelly partnered with the City of Orlando to pilot the program at local neighborhood centers.
Due to Kyle's strong passion for solving the education challenges of low-income communities, Learn Jelly is a social venture with a mission to increase the reading and learning proficiency rates of all elementary students, especially the 20 million who come from low-income homes. To accomplish this, the company's programs and services are designed to provide a highly engaging and fun learning experience which combines storytelling, art, and coding to improve reading, learning, and thinking skills through visualization and retelling activities.
Kyle Christian Steele, Founder and CEO
Bethune-Cookman University & University of Michigan – BS Biology & Dental Science Fellowship
Heman Pagey, Co-Founder and CTO
University of Southern California – MS Computer Science
Chief Academic Officer at GPA & former Chief Officer Of Education Transformation at Florida Virtual School
University of South Florida
Executive Director of the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship at Rollins College and former EVP of the Orlando Magic
University of Central Florida & Duke University - Fuqua School of Business
President at 4 Rivers Smokehouse
Florida State University
President at Four Corners Advisors, Inc. & Former Executive Vice President Hotels & Casinos for Hard Rock International
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Washington University in St. Louis School of Law
Entrepreneurs in Action (EIA)
Experienced serial entrepreneurs who work together to provide expert advice on existing social enterprise and nonprofit business strategies that are ready to move to a new level.