Launch of Youth Dream Incubator

Story and Images by Jelena Pejkovic

On March 27, the esteemed Spurlock Museum hosted Dr. Michael V. Roberts who presented “Action Has No Season: To Be a Futurist Means Starting Now”. This presentation was succeeded by the Black Business Expo, marking a significant stride in programming at the University created to empower young African American students to dream big and pursue entrepreneurial paths. 

Dr. Michael V. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of The Roberts Companies and a stalwart supporter of the African American community, spearheaded this initiative during his presentation on all things entrepreneurship. This event, manifested under the ongoing Black Joy Project, hosted the launch of the Youth Dream Incubator workbook, which was a collaborative effort between Siebel Center for Design and the curators of the Black Joy Project, Dr. Ruby Mendenhall and Florence Adibu. Its release showcased an exemplary fusion of interdisciplinary creativity and innovative development.



The Youth Dream Incubator workbook was specifically co-created by Dr. Ruby Mendenhall, Dr. Joe Bradley, Miriam Salah, and Rachel Switzky, and is a pivotal component of the Wellness Store; a transformative platform funded in part by the MacArthur Foundation and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. This store aims to provide youth with essential wellness tools and health knowledge, particularly tailored for individuals facing interlocking traumas such as racism, sexism, and poverty. The Youth Dream Incubator workbook was tailored toward young adults, equipping them with human-centered design processes to brainstorm novel ideas, inventions, and ultimately embark on their own entrepreneurial journey.

At the heart of this initiative is the belief that poverty is preventable, as highlighted by the Youth Wellness Project. By providing youth and adults with the tools and resources to develop businesses and create sustainable income streams, the project aims to uplift communities and foster a culture of innovation and financial well being. The launch of the Youth Dream Incubator at Dr. Michael Roberts's presentation and the subsequent Black Business Expo symbolize a powerful commitment to enriching the lives and futures of young African American students.

We extend our sincere gratitude to the MacArthur Foundation, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for their invaluable support and resources that have brought this transformative project to life. Together, we celebrate the resilience, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit of our youth, paving the way for a brighter and more inclusive future.