Inside the Incubator: Spotlight on Kool Nerd

Get to know NextCorps incubation client, Kool Nerd, a career readiness company that’s shaping the next generation of diverse workforce professionals.

Based on an interview with Kool Nerd Connect Founder, Orane Barrett.

About Kool Nerd: Fueling Student Success in School and Beyond

Kool Nerd Connect studentsKool Nerd LLC encompasses two companies — Kool Nerd Connect and Kool Nerd Prep. Kool Nerd Connect increases diverse students’ awareness of high-growth industries, reaching them in middle and high school as they are beginning to think about employment possibilities. Kool Nerd Prep focuses on preparing these students and young adults for high-demand STEM careers, offering academic support, counseling, soft skills development, and other assistance.

Together, the companies aspire to increase economic empowerment of Black and Latino communities by cultivating future “Kool Nerds” — career-focused professionals ready for diverse workforce opportunities.

“Kool Nerd addresses the workforce talent gap and diversity recruitment, which are pressing issues in the current job market,” shared Orane Barrett, Founder of Kool Nerd Connect. “Employers are experiencing increased challenges recruiting skilled workers to fill their open jobs. According to a PwC study, by 2030, the talent shortage and skills gap in the U.S. is projected to result in a loss of $8.5 trillion.”

Increase Diverse Students’ Awareness of In-Demand Careers

Kool Nerd Connect Founder, Orane Barrett
Kool Nerd Connect Founder, Orane Barrett

“My inspiration to start Kool Nerd came from my own experience along with witnessing students from inner-city communities graduating with little to no awareness of in-demand careers,” said Orane. “Many low-income communities are plagued with high unemployment, while many of their students do not fully understand the benefits of an education and how their education can lead to a fruitful career.”

As a product of inner-city schools in NYC, Orane attributes his own success to solid education and mentors early in life. Today he is a social entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and philanthropist committed to the economic upliftment of Black and Latino Americans through employment in high-demand careers.

“At Kool Nerd, we have coined an approach called the A.C.E.D. model. Through this methodology, Kool Nerd expands students’ awareness of high-demand careers, strengthens their connection to employers, increases their employability in the marketplace, and makes them contributors to a diverse workforce.”

Kool Nerd Successes and Milestones

Kool Nerd Connect’s impact across Rochester, NY is growing. During the spring 2022-2023 school semester, Mount Vernon High School provided Kool Nerd Connect’s healthcare industry-career awareness course to 11th grade students in their Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program.

Kool Nerd Connect students
Kool Nerd instructor with middle school students

“[The school’s] concern was that only 10% of the students who participated in the CNA program typically go on to pursue a career in nursing,” explained Orane. “The faculty wanted our course to expand the students’ awareness of other in-demand allied healthcare careers. And we’re proud to share that our course yielded very positive results.”

Of the 19 students who participated in the Kool Nerd Connect course, all 19 later reported an interest in pursuing related careers, including dentistry, radiology, and physical therapy.

Kool Nerd Connect was also recently engaged by the Rochester City School District to provide the healthcare industry-career awareness course to three middle schools and one high school. The eight-class course concluded with a trip to Highland Hospital. Click here to watch a video of Franklin Lower Middle School students’ visit.

Join In and Inspire Students

Do you work in healthcare? Kool Nerd Connect is looking for healthcare professionals in Rochester to participate as career-guest speakers. By talking about your background and job with students, you can help show them what’s possible and inspire them to pursue a similar path. Reach out to Orane Barrett today.

Kool Nerd Connect students

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