Acorn
Empowering our K-12 public school teachers.

Our Story

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Starting with a Big Idea

In 2015, Ankita Joshi, Michelle Nie, and Aubrey Larson met at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business when they all took a Social Entrepreneurship class together. We united through a passion for changing the education landscape and expanding STEM education access for all. Soon, we launched a project then known as Māk.

 
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We entered the Big Ideas @ Berkeley competition to earn seed funding for their project. Our idea won a First Place Award in the Financial Inclusion category. Read the full proposal below:

Launching into Action

Empowered by our seed funding and UC Berkeley’s support, we started a pilot STEAM program with Oakland High School’s Fashion, Arts, and Design Academy. We taught 11th and 12th graders a comprehensive curriculum based on design fundamentals and 3D design using Autodesk Fusion 360. At the end of the year-long program, students 3D printed their own designs as part of their final project.

 
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Expanding to a Larger Audience

In 2017, we launched a makerspace and 3D design training program at Oakland Public Library’s Main Branch. We set up 3D printers and held demos every week to teens from across Oakland.

 
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Our future

In our journey to scale our pilot programs we met and spoke to several teachers. These were teachers who had reached out to us but were too overworked to help us launch a program at their schools. They were aware of the open-source educational resources but needed assistance with incorporating them in their required curricula. They wanted to bring the latest technology into their classrooms, but needed guidance on contacting donors. We learned quickly that teachers needed resources, support and a community. They wanted us to help them help their students.

As our understanding of the education sector matured, so did our organization. We now focus on empowering teaching by providing them with a community of peers, mentors, funders, and other supporters.