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

 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.

 Alyssia Janee

17
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
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.

Deborah Olatunji

15
NEW CASTLE, DELAWARE

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.

LANDON KREPS

17
ALAMOSA, COLORADO   
landonkreps187@gmail.com

I live in a small town in Colorado. For the past six years, I’ve been dedicated to music and to helping people. I love the outdoors and the freedom that it presents. Education is something important to me, but I would love to see it changed. I aim to be a paramedic and be able to help people even more in the future. I believe that peace and love of everyone is the only cure for the world, and I strive to spread that message throughout my life.

LOVETTE MBA

17
        WICHITA, KANSAS           
love.mba02@gmail.com 

From a young age, I knew my calling was to help people, but I didn’t quite know in what way. Over the past years, I have explored my calling through entrepreneurship, journalism, and community service, all of which has led to me GripTape (initially as a Challenger) and eventually to the Youth Leadership Board. With the help of GripTape, I plan to not only develop all of my passions but to also use them to serve, lead, and care for the marginalized. I am currently starting senior in high school after which I plan on attending an HBCU to lead me to my future career in the nonprofit sector.

Madison Edmonds

16
MONTE VISTA, COLORADO
madisonre22@gmail.com

I am a 17-year old junor from Colorado. Aside from being on the board I am currently working on my associates degree at Adam State University through concurrent enrollment. During my free time I enjoy volunteering at my church and other local organizations. After high school I plan to attend CU Boulder and get my B.S. in biology with an emphasis on anatomy and a minor in business. As a GripTape board member I work closely with other members to empower youth a drive a new outlook on learning.

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.

Marcus Alston

17
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
marcusalston56@gmail.com

I am a current senior at the Pace University High School on the Lower East Side of New York. I am passionate about gun legislation reform as well as making public education accessible to the public and equitable to students of all races, socio-economic backgrounds, and genders. I really love GripTape because I’m able to bring my ideas to the table and work with other driven youth to really give American teens the opportunity to step out of their box and have creative control over their passion for learning. I’m excited to continue to make a more equitable system through my work at GripTape!

Megan Chen

16
NEWARK, DELAWARE
meganchen236@hotmail.com

I am a current junior at Newark Charter High School in Delaware and am the author of Finding Tiger, a children’s book that aims to teach students about implicit bias and stereotyping. I am also the founder and executive director at The Urban Garden Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that aims to inspire and empower youth to achieve urban sustainability through a gardening-based program. I am passionate about reforming youth education and hope to continue to help other youth find and pursue their passions through GripTape.

ADVISORY 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.

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!

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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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!

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.

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.

Nate Simpson

18
APPOMATTOX, VA

throughnathan@gmail.com

Hi, I’m Nate, a problem solver 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.

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.