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Seattle nonprofit aims to expose underrepresented youth to space industry careers

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Deena Pierott, founder of iUrban Teen.

From Boeing to Blue Origin, the Seattle region is a bustling aerospace hub. Now a Seattle-based nonprofit wants to help expose underrepresented youth to the industry and potential careers.

iUrban Teen is hosting its first iSpace Summit on July 30 featuring leading space industry partners such as Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, NASA, and Starfish Space. Company representatives will lead six interactive workshops to teach students about the industry and how to land jobs.

The event will feature a panel with representatives from the Kennedy Space Center and speeches from the diversity director and the president of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology, which is hosting the summit.

The program has an intentional reach to BIPOC students, but is open to all middle and high school students.

“A lot of times, our youth and families of color are left behind the curve with these new innovations,” said iUrban founder Deena Pierott.

iUrban Teen is a nationally recognized organization serving historically excluded youth by providing STEM-related education. It’s based in four states and has worked with more than 12,000 underrepresented youth.

Earlier this year, Pierott said she came across a virtual conference on space, space tourism, and job opportunities. That inspired her to create another module for iUrban that revolved around space.

“Our goal and our impact that we always want to make is to be an eye opener for them to know that they can pursue careers in space in this new frontier,” Pierott said. “What keeps us going is seeing that spark in a student’s eyes when you expose them to something that really has piqued their interest and might be a trajectory for them.”

The iSpace Summit will become part of iUrban Teens annual flagship summits, set to expand to other cities like Portland and Dallas. Additionally, iUrban hopes to continue working with its corporate partners to provide mentorship, internship, and scholarship opportunities for its members.

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