Marquetta Atkins Winner of Second Quarterly Shift Pivot Thrive Award

Marquetta Atkins’ Shift to business away from working for someone else not only created big a positive change in her life, but in the life of hundreds of Wichita area youth. 

Marquetta Atkins’ Shift to business away from working for someone else not only created big a positive change in her life, but in the life of hundreds of Wichita area youth. 

Atkins, a social entrepreneur, was working a 9 to 5, helping small businesses streamline their accounting system, when she realized she was tired of making other people money.

“I wasn’t happy, and I knew my heart was with community,” said Atkins.

Her immediate “pivot” was to go back to school and completing her degree.  From there, she just followed her passion, which was community service, particularly working with youth and creating safe places for them to be heard, to feel valued and to be successful.  

The first program she developed was Camp Destination Innovation.  It’s a summer camp she began while at the Urban League of Kansas’ that focuses on youth entrepreneurship and the STEM careers: science, technology, engineering and math. 

She heard youth saying they wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer of a teacher, which were all admirable careers, but she wanted to open more students minds to the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur.

“I wanted the Camp to be innovative and I wanted the destination to be anything these young people can conceive,” said Atkins. 

Since then, she’s developed and funded two additional programs for youth.

Progeny is a program for youth who have been “touched” by the juvenile justice system.  The students learn advocacy, policy, organizing and how to change policies and the way it impacts them. 

Root the Power is a civic engagement group.  These are high school and college students who receive paid internships and they help get themselves and other people – especially other youth — inspired and energized about the power of their vote and voting. 

“What were doing is trying to create a space where young people understand that Wichita is a city that they belong in,” said Atkins.  “We connect them to our community, get them in positions where they have sustainable employment and they don’t have to struggle, so that they can be successful adults.”

“She understands our position and she’s willing to listen when she doesn’t,” said Peyton, a former Camp Innovation Destination participant.   “She has the patience to sit down and understand what you’re going through.”

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