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Meet Four Innovators with Impact: Jerelyn Rodriguez ’11CC, Thomas Campbell ’09BUS, Rachel G. Barnard ’11GSAPP, and April Tam Smith ’10BUS

Meet four passionate, creative, and gutsy social entrepreneurs who are taking on injustice and inequality across New York City.

Jerelyn Rodriguez
Technology against poverty

The South Bronx might be the poorest congressional district in the United States, but Jerelyn Rodriguez ’11CC thinks the borough is rich with rising tech talent. “The Bronx is full of creativity, innovation, and grit — people here invented hip-hop and helped lead the graffiti-art movement,” she says. Many neighborhoods, however, lack the educational resources to nurture the potential of their young people. Rodriguez’s nonprofit organization, the Knowledge House, strives to fill that void, providing free coding and entrepreneurship programs for low-income students.

Rodriguez knows the borough’s challenges firsthand. A South Bronx native, she grew up in a single-parent household, surrounded by poverty. But through the support of her mother, a teacher, Rodriguez attended a private high school in Manhattan and eventually went to Columbia College, where she majored in film studies. She started working in education reform after graduating and grew frustrated by the dominant focus on college as the sole pathway to success. “Being on the college track worked for me, but a lot of my friends dropped out or didn’t even get to college,” she says. So Rodriguez looked for new ways to bring professional opportunities to her community.

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