GET TO KNOW US

GripTape is an initiative committed to putting young people in the driver’s seat of their learning. We create opportunities for youth to follow their passions — as inventors, designers, and producers, actively constructing their path for success and supporting other young people to do the same.

The GripTape Learning Challenge is a call to action to youth to design, create, and execute their own learning journeys. We give our Challengers full decision-making authority over the what, when, where, how, and why of their learning; grants up to $500 to pursue their passion; a champion to offer encouragement; and one to three months to complete their journey.

Check out our FAQ and former Challengers.

-The GripTape Team

YOUTH LEADERSHIP BOARD

 Bemnet Molla 

22
ANNANDALE, VA

bmolla@vt.edu

As a member of GripTape, I work on the Youth Leadership Board to develop and expand the number of partnerships we have with adult and youth-led organizations. I joined the Board in the summer of 2016 and have committed to the mission since. I am passionate about giving students control of their own education and allowing them to guide their learning. In my free time, I am a student studying towards earning a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. I will be graduating in 2019 and plan to continue my education in hopes of earning a master’s degree in engineering.

 Abigail Piando

17
MCALLEN, TEXAS
piando.abigail2001@gmail.com

My name is Abi, and I am a student leader. I live near the Mexican-American border and attend school at Idea Quest College Preparatory. Having learned from the many unique cultures surrounding me, I can say that the one thing the youth need is a source of inspiration to make their ideas a reality. Right now, I lead a non-profit organization called STXideas that focuses on helping border youth understand the potential that lies within their culture, community, and identity. I joined GripTape as a Challenger in their Fall 2017 cycle and fell in love with the ideal of motivating kids to follow their passions and learn through personal determination. As a Board member, I want to make an even bigger impact on youth learning nationally and help kids become excited to have ideas and go for them.

Deborah Olatunji

15
NEW CASTLE, DE

kdeboraholatunji@gmail.com

I am a high school junior at the Charter School of Wilmington in Delaware. I have been an aspiring missionary doctor for the past eight years, and I am currently working towards going on a mission trip before I graduate high school. I am the founder of an education-based consulting start-up, am working on a goal to write a book, and have been creating captivating photography. As a GripTape Board member, I plan to work closely with motivated game-changers to fix our current ‘one-size-fits-all’ education system and give students a chance to truly discover and love what they take interest in. While these details are important to the aspects of my character, the main legacy that I want to spread is God’s love and how he has been the most powerful guide and supporter in my life.

Nate Simpson

17
APPOMATTOX, VA

throughnathan@gmail.com

Hi, I’m Nate, a young entrepreneur and web developer with a passion for improving education with modern tools. I enjoy working with young people to better understand how we can fix education! I love technology, travel, and getting to know new people. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to connect.

Kaitlyn Jenkins 

20
DULUTH, MN

kaitlynjenkins32@yahoo.com

Hi! My name is Kaitlyn Jenkins, and I am a 19-year old from Minnesota. I joined the Youth Leadership Board with GripTape in the summer of 2016. I am in college for Early Childhood Education, and I am working as an assistant preschool teacher in my hometown. I love photography, exploring, and getting to be a part of the GripTape family!

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 Alyssia Janee

17
LOUISVILLE, KY
alyssiajanee@gmail.com

I am 17-year-old girl from Louisville, Kentucky, or the 502 (as Bryson Tiller says). I am currently a high school senior, and I plan to major in Business + Entrepreneurship. I have an extensive background in organization, planning, graphic design, makeup, and photography. I am the owner of The Black Rose Effect, which is a makeup brand. I offer both makeup services and products.

Mahika Halepete

16
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA
mhalepete@gmail.com

I am a high school junior who is passionate about youth empowerment, sustainable development, and utilizing human-centered design to solve real-world problems. I explored these topics during my GripTape Challenge in the summer of 2018, and I was so inspired by GripTape’s mission and work having witnessed it firsthand that I decided to apply for a position on the Youth Leadership Board. I’m beyond excited to begin working with this incredible team to design and strengthen initiatives to enable youth-guided learning to develop the purpose-driven leaders and changemakers our world needs! In addition to serving on the Board, I am the founder and executive director of AYANA International, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which I started to harness the potential of youth in the developing world to drive change in their own communities.

Darriell Allick

17
NEW HAVEN, CT
darriellallick@gmail.com

Aside from being a Board Member for one of the BEST organizations, I will become a Fashion Designer and the CEO of my own company. I also want to become an activist and be able to change the world, being that there are many perpetuating systems of oppression around the globe. I want to not only make an impact, but be a part of the change. No one person can do this alone! I joined the Board in the summer of 2018, knowing GripTape will be changing many lives and helping young people, myself included, be able to turn our dreams and passions into reality. GripTape has taught me there are no limitations on who you are and how great you can be!

ADVISORY BOARD

Tasha Taylor 

21
DOVER, DE

n.a.t.0110@hotmail.com

As a sophomore at Delaware State University, I’ve found a way to be on the move at all times while maintaining a full course load. I do my best work in high volumes. Keeping busy keeps me sane … and helps me justify my indulgence in tattoos (eight) and traveling. There’s a lot to me and what I do. In the beginning, being invited to work with GripTape was a daunting request. But I was told it would be solely for youth, by youth. After the first meeting (maybe the second one), I knew that we were on to something and planned to see this initiative through until … well … forever. We created GripTape. I believe in our purpose. That’s what brings me to GripTape.

David Clark

20
MILLSBORO, DE

davclark@udel.edu

Hello all, my name is David Clark, a student at the University of Delaware studying Hospitality Business Management. I am from Delaware and enjoy all types of music, the beach, staying active, and being “mixy” (or social). I am excited to have been a part of the GripTape family since the very beginning and seeing the growth and impact this work is having on my peers. I deeply believe in the importance of a worthwhile education that extends beyond memorization and quizzes, but is something that makes you excited to learn more and grow in that field. I look forward to the impact GripTape continues to have with education redesign and am eager to work with more youth!

Femi Adebogun 

18
BALTIMORE, MD

femi@testifyschool.com

I am a 17-year-old high school senior from Baltimore, MD. In addition to serving on GripTape’s Youth Leadership Board, I run an edtech startup in Washington, D.C. called Testify and am very involved in many organizations. I’m passionate about empowering youth like me to do amazing things and reach our full potentials, as well as solving huge global issues. When I’m not on another plane traveling somewhere, you can usually catch me playing piano or shooting my upcoming documentary, Slave to the Friendzone.

Shania Trammell 

21
SEAFORD, DE

strammel@villanova.edu

I am a Political Science major at Villanova University. I enjoy all things politics and all things commentary. I take a great interest in students being key in their learning journeys because the path from high school and college should not be THAT jolting. Students should not have to ask permission to follow their educational dreams. I aspire to be a civil rights lawyer and a political analyst for a major news network.

Abby Rowheder 

BOARD MEMBER EMERITUS

17
DULUTH, MN

abbyroh3@gmail.com

I am from Duluth, MN. I love anything to do with nature, and you will most likely find me in the woods 90% of the time. Growing up in a smaller city, I had many interests that my schools were not available to teach, so I grew to teach myself many of the things I know now. After realizing the efficiency and compelling nature of a learner-centered system, I became involved in the movement. My involvement with GripTape goes back to before GripTape had its name. Every learner is different, and I believe that no matter what, everyone should be offered the same opportunities to follow their passions. When I joined a small Youth Advisory Board my junior year of high school, I voiced just that. And what followed was something amazing.