Speaker Series: The Pipeline Project


The good news: There is demand for jobs in STEAM fields. The bad news: Georgia ranks in the bottom quartile of graduates in the required fields. The scarcity of qualified graduates is the result of a broken pipeline, and the pipeline starts leaking in the early grades – even before school starts. It’s time to fix the pipeline.

Join us on August 26 for the launch of The Pipeline Project, an initiative that will help nonprofit organizations, community groups and classroom teachers deliver hands-on STEAM programming to preK-12 youth who would not otherwise be served. As part of The Pipeline Project launch, the Blank Family Foundation will announce a new partnership with DonorsChoose.org to fund 100 innovative STEAM projects for classroom teachers in Atlanta, Fulton County and DeKalb County public schools.

For every dollar donated to eligible projects through DonorsChoose.org, the Blank Family Foundation will match the gift. Over the next year, the goal is to fund 100 projects that pull more students into the pipeline.

The event will feature Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org.


Charles BestPanelist: Charles Best
Charles leads DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit organization which provides a simple way to address educational inequity. At DonorsChoose.org, public school teachers create classroom project requests and donors can pick the projects they want to support. Charles launched the organization twelve years ago out of a Bronx public high school where he taught history. DonorsChoose.org is one of Oprah Winfrey's "ultimate favorite things" and was named by Fast Company as one of the "50 Most Innovative Companies in the World," the first time a charity has received this recognition. Donors ChooseFor three years, Fortune Magazine has named Charles to its "40 under 40 hottest rising stars in business."

Panelist: Ayana Gabriel
Ayana began her career as a Chemical Engineer at Merck, Inc., but her passion for improving education opportunities for urban children led her to leave her engineering career to pursue a role as an educator in Atlanta Public Schools.

After five years in the APS system, Ayana joined the education non-profit, Teach For America (TFA) to work on education policy and to systemically improve national public education.  She served as the Managing Director of Diversity and Strategy for the Admissions unit of TFA, where she consulted on diversity and equity initiatives contributing to the most diverse incoming corps in Teach For America’s history. This follows her role as Managing Director of Program where she oversaw the development of over 300 new Atlanta teachers through their training and development.

Ayana has been a resident of southwest Atlanta since 2006 where she is recent President of the Westview Community Organization. Under her leadership the neighborhood has seen the largest increase in community engagement in over a decade and new business investment, contributing to the revitalization of Southwest Atlanta. It also has acquired over $15,000 in grant money for community work including a summer STEAM camp for local youth.


Pipeline Ambassadors are a team of educators, community leaders, and STEAM specialists brought together to further the goals of The Pipeline Project.

Garry Harris
Center for Sustainable Communities
SMART Academy Center of Excellence
Kristyn Tumbleson
Georgia Aquarium
Ambe Olinga
Fulton County Schools
Courtney Bryant
Drew Charter School
David MacNair, Ph. D.
Maker Faire Atlanta/Georgia Institute of Technology
Damon Bailey
Teach For America