PITTSBURGH, Feb. 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — RK Mellon Foundation makes a project-related investment in a Black father-son-led company that aims to increase diversity in STEAM fields so disadvantaged populations are included in the future of work. Damola and Wole Idowu – engineers, creatives, educators, and entrepreneurs – founded Toyz Electronics at Carnegie Mellon University’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Using its Social-Impact Investment Program, the Richard King Mellon Foundation invests in for-profit companies looking to accomplish a public good that aligns with its Strategic Plan. These investments are known as Program-Related Investments. The Convertible note investment leads a $500,000 seed round for Toyz Electronics and provides resources for:
- Improving the Dah-Varsity Android and iOS Apps
- Refining and developing the TOYZSTEAM curriculum
- Increasing the scalability, measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of both TOYZSTEAM and Superhero Rap program for difficult learners
- Raising educators’ and learners’ awareness of the Dah-Varsity app to increase its reach and impact
- Hiring two full-time employees in 2022
"As we celebrate Black History Month, the historical significance of the Mellon Family investing in the Idowu Family does not evade me," expressed CEO Damola Idowu. "I am inspired by Booker T. Washington, who received funding from Andrew Carnegie and endowed Tuskegee and Hampton Universities to train former slaves to capture the opportunity of the industrial revolution. This investment allows us to empower disadvantaged populations to upskill for the future of work by using our Dah-Varsity App, our Superhero Rap concept, and culturally relevant TOYZSTEAM curriculum to make emerging economies, such as the metaverse, more equitable for everybody."
In 2022, Toyz Electronics strives to empower 5,000 diverse and disadvantaged students to become Superhero versions of themselves and foster skills that allow them to overcome obstacles that hinder their educational paths or to create new trails to sustainable creative, software, manufacturing, hardware, and entrepreneurship careers. The key is to give disadvantaged students the power to engage in an equitable metaverse economy and give them opportunities to control their lives.
The history of Toyz Electronics stems from the duo’s own STEAM superhero background.
At 15-years-old, Damola enrolled at Syracuse University and a dual Mechanical Engineering and Economics Major at 16-years-old. Later transferred to Howard University, and as a junior and at 18, won a university engineering design competition.
Chief Technical Officer and Damola’s son, Wole Idowu, knows the impact of access to mentorship and learning opportunities. Raised in Washington DC’s Ward 8, became a Thiel 20 under 20 finalist at age 15 as he was graduating high school. "My dad’s support gives me opportunities that I can build on," Wole explained. "It allows me to grow and pass it on to more people, making it widespread equitably so access can truly reach beyond the limits we imagine are capable today."
Enrolling at Carnegie Mellon University at age 15, he was featured on CNBC’s 20 under 20 Transforming Tomorrow documentary. Wole holds an Electrical and Computer Engineering degree, also minoring in Business Administration and Entrepreneurship for Creative Industries.
About Toyz Electronics:
Since 2020, Toyz Electronics has been involved in various activities and challenges. The company was a semi-finalist for the BNY Mellon and Innovations Works social innovation challenge, Upprize. It was also an MIT Solve finalist for Antiracist Technology and in the MIT Solve Incubator for Unbundling Policing. With the assistance of a faculty advisor and Executive Director of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University Drew Davidson, Toyz completed National Science Foundation I-Corps research.
Toyz was also involved in the Startup Boost Pittsburg Spring 2021 Cohort and recognized as an X4-Impact Top-Ranked Impact Tech Solutions for Black Leadership in 2021.
Toyz Electronics has impacted more than 2,000 students, using its Dah-Varsity App, Superhero Rap concept, and TOYZSTEAM curriculum to empower diverse and disadvantaged students to maximize their superhero capabilities careers in the technical, creative, maker-related industries and entrepreneurship.
About Superhero Rap
Superhero Rap is Idealism, which is your ideal self and the world you want to live in. Your villain is your obstacles, and STEAM concepts are used to create superpowers that overcome your obstacles.
About the Richard King Mellon Foundation:
The Richard King Mellon Foundation, founded in 1947, is the largest foundation in Southwest Pennsylvania and one of the top 50 largest in the world. The Foundation’s 2020 year-end endowment was $3.1 billion, and its Trustees disbursed $152 million in grants and Program-Related Investments in 2021. The Foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, outlined in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.
SOURCE Toyz Electronics