January 05, 2017
By Kimberlee Buck
Co-founders Deena Williams and Eleisha Nelson-Reed are igniting dreams and opening a world of opportunities for young African American children with the L.A.-based education non-profit called the DreamKeepers Box. Deena brings her business background and her interpersonal skills to the table while Eleisha brings her instructional background and her focused personality, making the dynamic duo and their product a force to be reckoned with.
The non-profit was based on the co-founders mission and belief that “Black history is not just for African American kids, it’s all of our history. Black history is American history.”
DreamKeepers Box is a monthly subscription themed box that exposes children ages 8-12 to African American leaders in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) delivering an educational and cultural experience to children’s homes each month with a different themed box.
DreamKeepers was launched by Mind Hatchery, a subscription box service that delivers hands-on learning experiences and career exploration for children after Williams and Nelson completed a very successful Kickstarter campaign that ended in May 2016.
Mind Hatchery was also founded by Williams and Nelson-Reed.
Each DreamKeepers box includes the following: instructions and materials for two STEAM projects, collectable cards that highlight Black industry leaders and careers, one-to-two children’s books related to the career theme and bonus gifts.
The box also features a group of five children called the STEAM Team guiding children through each month’s adventure. Each member of the STEAM Team represents an element of STEAM learning.
The five members of the STEAM Team are: Simone, who soars in science, Tre, who is thrilled with technology, Elijah, who is enamored with engineering, Amari, who is amped about the arts and Maya, who is mad about math.
“As we are talking about these different adults and leaders, let’s create these characters that kids can also see and identify with. We wanted to show little brown girls and boys who have an interest in fields that might not be thought of as cool and these cool characters are interested in them,” said Williams and Nelson-Reed.
What makes the DreamKeepers unlike any other educational experience?
“We aren’t just leaving it at, ‘hey here is this cool activity for the month.’ Here’s the context and then ‘hey, let’s give you some role models and real people who you can see yourself in.’ Kids can’t be what they can’t see. We definitely have that lens every month when we are designing our box,” said Williams.
To date, Williams and Nelson-Reed have sold five different types of boxes: Inventors and Inventions, Visual Artists, Zoology and Animal Sciences, Natural Sciences and Forensics.
Currently, the co-founders are designing and compiling new material for their sixth themed box on aerospace.
“Our box in January is going to focus on careers in aerospace,” said Williams and Nelson-Reed. “We always wanted to do an aerospace box but we timed it after learning about the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ coming about the women of NASA and some of their amazing accomplishments. ‘Hidden Figures’ is coming out with a young reader’s edition, so we have been in contact with the author so that book will be included in our box. We have a really nice separate set of leaders to talk about, we have this book and movie coming out to anchor it in.”
As far as future goals are concerned, co-founders Williams and Nelson-Reed have the following in mind: gaining 500 subscribers, creating DreamKeepers boxes for other ethnicities and seeing the STEAM Team come to life on television in a DreamKeepers Saturday morning cartoon.
Celebrate Black History all year long with the DreamKeepers Box. Visit dreamkeepersbox.com for subscription and pricing info. Stay up to date with the STEAM Team latest adventures on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @dreamkeepersbox