The UrbanAMP Incubator for Low-Income Populations and Their Cities
By Mario Popo
I had a strange dream not long ago. I was talking to someone and noticed that when she spoke she had three rows of teeth in her mouth! I woke up, told my husband about it, then grabbed some coffee and watched Undercover Boss on a Saturday morning. In this episode there was a young man delivering pizzas to support his family because his father had health issues. Then there was a woman explaining the challenges of working full time for low wages while still trying to pursue a college education in her time off. AND guess what? This woman was born with 40 extra teeth.
Woah! Was it a coincidence that I just finished a dream an hour before of a girl with too many teeth in her mouth? Could be, except for one important aspect. I’ve been working on an initiative for three years to make tech education and livable wages a possibility for those unable to breakthrough the cycles of poverty. It’s been a long, difficult road and just two days before that dream I was thinking about abandoning the project. Maybe I just didn’t have the right solution. Then I had that dream followed by that show. Coincidence or not it gave me the needed boost to keep moving forward and working with others to innovate new solutions that address low-income households.
My name is Maria Popo. I’m president of international tech company Ubee Interactive, a HuffPost blogger, recent past president of Rocky Mountain chapter of Women in Cable & Telecom (WICT). I’m also on multiple Advisory Boards, own assets of a data company and a Mentor at Denver’s fantastic public campus for entrepreneurship, The Commons.
I struggled with traditional education my whole life. First in high school and then in college which I continued to pursue while employed full-time, married and raising children. I graduated trade school, completed almost 4-years of college classes, taught myself to code, spent time studying neuroscience and even learned calculus recently. Yet somehow I’m an educational failure by standard metrics.
I know what it’s like to earn low wages while supporting a family and trying to go to a school in a system does not accommodate people as individuals. I know what its like to be smart at work but somehow be “stupid” at school. I’m fortunate in that I’ve been able to attain some success, but I’ve seen firsthand the damage done to those that haven’t, including members of my own family. Depression, suicide, addiction or a life of hopelessness. It’s no way to live.
Approximately half of those in poverty have no education beyond high school. In addition, even though minorities represent 29.3% of the US population (US Census Bureau 2014), they represent 49.8% of those in poverty. By 2018, it is expected that the majority of all jobs will require basic tech and math skills of which most Americans don’t possess today.
John Hopkins University published a study in 2014 examining the experiences of 800 low-income, school children from Baltimore over a period of 25 years. The results illustrated that only 4 percent of those coming from low-income families had a college degree at age 28, compared to 45 percent of the children from higher-income backgrounds.
Most people earning low wages work many hours a week struggling to cover basic costs of living. Needed education and skills are unattainable even for the most determined as they are consumed with the realities of daily survival.
These people represent lost opportunity. It’s a tragic loss that an entire segment of unrecognized talent exists that have much needed new perspective that could improve technology and commerce. This is where AMP10x and its UrbanAMP program come in.
AMP10x Inc. unleashes personal potential through a behavioral approach to learning. We design programs to create futures 10 times bigger than current realities. Teams and individuals executing big goals significantly outperform those pursuing small goals as proven by Google X and their concept of moonshots in a business setting.
With this mission in mind, AMP10x has developed its UrbanAMP Individual and Business Incubator program targeted at removing barriers for low-income individuals pursuing corporate or entrepreneurial careers. Here are the basic goals of the Individual and Business Incubator:
1. Within 12 months they learn an in-demand hard skill in our Individual Incubator such as software development, UX design, product management or entrepreneurial skills complemented by soft skills.
2. They can then apply for the UrbanAMP Business Incubator program as an early stage start-up OR they can develop a corporate career path through entry-level, on-the-job learning and ultimately attainment of an accredited degree.
3. The above process is supported by an app that creates positive habits through microlearning and coaching.
It’s that simple. We work with tech education partners to execute various components of the program. Early results illustrate trajectories of at least a $20k increase in income.
Low-income, lack of education and low diversity in all sectors of commerce reflect adjacencies, which AMP10x is focused on improving through its UrbanAMP Incubator programs. Please visit us at www.amp10x.com!