Class Notes

Empowering underrepresented voices through community

Chantelle Young (MA Education, Policy & Society, 2016)

Tech innovator Chantelle Young (MA Education, Policy & Society, 2016) shares how her professional experience as an educator inspired her to create inclusive spaces and opportunities for underrepresented groups to thrive. Chantelle explains how community-driven initiatives can be a powerful catalyst to help empower tech founders.

‘When reflecting on my journey since graduating from King’s, the resounding theme is the extraordinary power of community and the transformative impact it has had on my personal and professional path. My evolution from the primary school classroom to the forefront of the tech industry highlights the need for community-driven change and resource redistribution to the marginalised.

‘As my teaching journey unfolded, I observed first-hand the remarkable influence of shared identity on my students and what it meant to feel like you were excluded from a community. My classroom became a community within itself, a safe space guided by values such as mutuality, respect, compassion and accountability. Inspired by the joy and growth I saw in my students when they had somewhere to have open and honest conversations, express vulnerability and find humour in their shared challenges, I was propelled towards a career trajectory rooted in advocacy and empowerment.

‘Fuelling this mission was a commitment to combining theory with practice – a philosophy inspired by works such as The Art of Community by Charles H Vogl. Armed with a theoretical and scientific framework, I have taken on the task of crafting communities with intentionality and purpose throughout my career. From communities of teachers, students, alumni, queer people, people of colour and entrepreneurs, the bonds we created within these communities were, and continue to be, lifelines, a testament to the extraordinary resilience that flourishes when we stand united.

‘With the conviction that change begins within communities, I have most recently focused my efforts on designing and implementing strategies that create safe and helpful spaces for underrepresented tech founders to thrive. I recognise the injustice of a system that underestimates and denies them access to the opportunities they so rightfully deserve. These founders often face uphill battles, struggling to be heard and recognised. As an advocate, my mission is to help tear down those barriers and provide a community-led platform for them to succeed.

‘As the Programme Lead at Tech Nation, a network for tech entrepreneurs, I currently have the privilege of spearheading initiatives such as the Libra programme, which acts as a springboard for underrepresented founders, and the Rising Stars pitch competition for early-stage tech startups. These platforms not only provide resources but also foster a sense of belonging and mutual support, echoing the sense of community that drew me to education in the first place. My pivot into the tech sector was rooted in a desire to cultivate spaces that nurture innovation while championing equity and inclusivity.

‘My journey from educator to advocate underscores the transformative influence of community engagement. It has been a journey of growth, empowerment and unyielding advocacy – a testament to the incredible potential of community engagement. As I look ahead, I am resolute in my commitment to creating spaces where marginalised founders can empower each other and potential is nurtured.’