Mechanical engineer Darron Lamkin was speaking at a student support service program in 2009 when he fell in love with public speaking. He also realized he wanted to do more for his community.
He built Class Matters to improve Oklahoma City’s high school graduation rates through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programming — and a little tough love.
Class Matters provides practical STEM programming to disadvantaged youth in the Oklahoma City area. As a “mobile” 501(c)3 organization, Class Matters volunteers have provided more than 2,100 after-school hours of individual and group mentoring, training and professional development with more than 1,600 students.
Mentor Charles Christiansen has worked with founder Darron Lamkin in 2010, first helping him develop the constitution, code of conduct, bylaws, fundraising collateral and program overview for Class Matters. “My mentor helped me identify my true niche market and product offering,” Lamkin recalls. Although Christiansen is based in SCORE's Knoxville chapter, he assists Lamkin by email.
Christiansen encouraged Lamkin to apply for grants, but Lamkin admits he “Didn’t believe that someone would support what I did due to the audience I targeted, so I self-funded everything.” When Lamkin began to pursue a Ph.D. in engineering in 2014, however, he realized he would need help funding his programs. Lamkin raised more than $87,000 in 2015 alone. ”At this rate, I may be able to become an employee and make this my career,” Lamkin says.