About Curtis Carmichael
Curtis (@CurtisCarmicc) is an award-winning author, keynote speaker, STEM and hip-hop teacher, social entrepreneur, and the founder of Source Code Academy Canada — Canada’s first culture-focused innovation and entrepreneurship academy preparing children and youth for the future of work. Curtis is the critically acclaimed author and mobile app developer for the World’s First Augmented Reality Memoir, Butterflies in the Trenches. As a self taught computer programmer, Curtis built “BITT Smart Book App”, the mobile app that brings his memoir to life. By holding the device over photos throughout the book, readers use the app to unlock hidden audio and visual content. Curtis’ guiding mission of No Child Left Behind ™ provides students, educators, and organizations with tools and actionable strategies to identify their passion, find purpose, and use their gifts to make a difference in their lives, schools, businesses, and communities.
For Curtis, this journey all began with a bicycle. After sacrificing a professional football career, Curtis led a cross-Canada cycling tour called “Ride for Promise” and fundraised $100,000 in 60 days for Toronto Community Housing after-school programs. He was featured in the award-winning documentary, Ride for Promise. Curtis’ journey has been covered by CBC, CP24, Global News, Breakfast Television, CityNews, CTV, Your Morning Show, and TED. In his spare time, he is a Team Canada Duathlete for the 2021 Multi-sport World Championships.
Curtis grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, where he still works. He has dedicated his life to advocating for Black and racialized youth in low- income communities across Toronto, Canada, and globally. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physical and Health Education from Queen’s University and a BEd in STEM education from Ontario Tech University. Curtis has been the recipient of numerous awards including USPORTS National Russ Jackson, 2021 Best Indie Book Award Winner for Inspirational Non-Fiction, Herbert H. Carnegie National Citizenship, City of Toronto Spirit of Sport Diversity and Inclusion, and the City of Toronto Hall of Honour inductee. Curtis believes with conviction that each and every person is gifted, it is just a matter of having the right platform and opportunities to unwrap and use these gifts.
Connect with Curtis: Email | Instagram | Linkedin | Twitter
Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favourite podcast platform.
Queens University – Bachelors of Physical and Health Education
Ontario Tech University – Bachelors of Education
2021 Best Indie Book Award Winner for Inspirational Non-Fiction
Herbert H. Carnegie National Citizenship
City of Toronto Hall of Honour inductee
**Please note that all of our transcriptions come from rev.com and are 80% accurate. We’re grateful for the robots that make this possible and realize that it’s not a perfect process.
Sam Demma (00:00):
Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast.
Sam Demma (01:00):
This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today we have on a very special guest. His name is Curtis Carmichael. People call him “CC the futurist.” Curtis is on a mission of improving schools and organizational culture. By helping people realize that they have innate power and gifts to make a difference in their lives and communities. He is so many things; an award-winning author, keynote speaker, stem and hip hop teacher, social entrepreneur, and the founder of source code academy, Canada, which is Canada’s first culture focused innovation and entrepreneurship academy preparing children and youth for the future of work. He’s the critically acclaimed author and mobile app developer for the world’s first augmented reality memoir; “butterflies in the trenches.” As a self-taught computer programmer. Curtis built BITT smart book app; the mobile app that brings his book, his memoir, to life. He is also someone who has traveled across the country. After sacrificing a professional football career,
Sam Demma (02:02):
Curtis led a cross Canada cycling tour called ride for promise, where he and everyone he knew helped fundraise a hundred thousand dollars in 60 days for Toronto community housing after school programs. He has been featured on news, CBC, CT, CTV CP 24 global news, breakfast television, your morning show, and TEDx. In his spare time, get this, in his spare time, he is a team Canada dual athlete for the 2021 multi-sport world champions. There is so much to this powerful young man. Curtis is an inspiration. He is changing the world one speech, one book, one product at a time, and it is our pleasure and honor to have him on the show here today. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Curtis and I’ll see you on the other side. Welcome back to another episode of the High Performing Educator podcast. This is your host and youth speaker, Sam Demma. Today we have a very special guest. I met this individual a few years ago. In a conference room, we were sitting at the same table. We chatted a little bit, but didn’t get into any deep conversation. And recently I read his entire book and I’m so glad that it prompted us to reconnect. Curtis Carmichael is a special guest today. Curtis, please feel free to introduce yourself, explain who you are and why you do the work you do to ensure that no children or child is left behind.
Curtis Carmichael (03:29):
Yeah, for sure. Thank you for having me on. Always a pleasure to reconnect with you. You’re such a bundle of hope so I’m glad I can be here to kind of match that as well. But yeah, when people ask who, who am I, I always say I am a revolutionary. And what does that mean? For me that’s a person or a vessel that brings around radical or complete change. So my radical change is to ensure that no child and no community is left behind. So being a revolutionary kind of unfolds in three separate ways. So one is; I’m author and athlete. So my background is that I sacrificed a pro football career moved back to my public housing project and I ended up biking across Canada raising 100k in 60 days to save three afterschool programs from closing down in Toronto community housing.
Curtis Carmichael (04:11):
So that’s one way of being a revolutionary. The second way of being a revolutionary is I’m a keynote speaker educational consultant and a stem elementary teacher. So on this planet, I feel like I’m here to help students, educators and organizations kind of realize their innate power and gifts that they possess in order to make a difference in their lives and their community. So in doing so in short, I build a culture of service and prepare both students and educators for the future work. And number three what does it mean to be a revolutionary is I’m also a tech founder and self top mobile app developer. So how that unfolds is also created the world force, augmented reality memoir, which is a book that comes with a free augmented reality mobile app, and also founded source code academy, Canada, which is Canada’s first culture focused academy that prepares children and youth for the future of work.
Curtis Carmichael (04:56):
So target population for that is by pocket and low income kids. But yeah, that’s kind of who I am. I think your second question there is why do I do the work that I do? There, there’s a story behind this always want to give you context in a world where our, our systems are designed to oppress and marginalized and limit opportunities for bipo and low income communities. Since I was a kid, I remember looking at a lot of indigenous communities and African people across the diaspora and they always follow this model of a BTU. It’s actually a south African phrase philosophy. That means I am because we are so essentially the, we is more, more important than the I, so the collective kind of highlights that each of us have something of value to contribute to the whole.
Curtis Carmichael (05:38):
So that’s kind of like my grounding of, of where I come from and community circles is something that I believe, you know, were very well as well. Sam demo that most communities, how they operate is they have the most vulnerable at the center of community. So the kids and the toddlers, and then around them are the adults around them are the, the, the older adults around them are the OGs and the grandparents. And this is kind of how they work in community. So foundationally to answer that question, cuz that was long winded. I always wanted to give you the context before I answer, why do I do the work that I do? And because I come from a community that is disenfranchised in Scarborough the most culture and ethically diverse place in north America, I believe my goal here is to build an inclusive world that includes us all inclusive world. That includes all of us, regardless of what communities you come from. So that’s why I always say my mission as a kid was no child left behind. And the mission of source code academy is no child left behind.
Sam Demma (06:30):
When do you sleep Curtis?
Curtis Carmichael (06:33):
Yeah, I do. I do a lot. To be honest I sleep , I try to find moments, but I think when, when I, when I feel like I’m here, I don’t feel like I’m doing something for a resume or anything. I just feel like it’s my responsibility. I’ve been given something to do. So it’s like every day I work up work, wake up with a mission in mind knowing that I’m working for the collective. So I think my six hours of sleep is enough. get me up in the morning.
Sam Demma (07:00):
Hey man, I can attest to your passion and purpose from all the phone calls we’ve had. It’s so apparent that you’re doing the work that you need to be doing. And deep down in your heart know you should be doing. I know you, you mentioned that you’re like the plug and the, the OG for everyone for so many different programs, everyone’s always hitting you up with questions and your phone’s buzzing, nonstop. Even during meetings and calls. You have other people requiring your attention. It seems like you do a really great job to, to balance it all, despite everything going on. What, what inspires the work that you do? So you told me a little bit about the why, but what inspires you to continue going in the moments where things feel overwhelming, extremely challenging? Like, are there role models you look up to or people that, you know, you speak to often to keep you going? What’s your inspiration?
Curtis Carmichael (07:50):
Yeah. I, I have a, I have a few inspirations. One inspiration is that in all the work that I do, which is what infused of informed my book is that when you look around the world, you start to realize that opportunities aren’t universal, but talent is. And once I realized that talent was universal, I started to look at all these communities that were facing like structural racism, structural poverty. I realized that access to resources, information is class based when I realized, despite those realities, that talent still exist here, value still exists here. Passion and power still exists here. That kind of inspires all of my work, cuz I go to these communities that usually people kind of look at them and they don’t understand that they have value and don’t feel like they have value. But when I go there, I see a, like a, a landmine of just of just worth and value and power and purpose and hope.
Curtis Carmichael (08:43):
And I always say like hope is hold on pain ends, right? So if you have that mentality that’s kind of what grounds my work is when I go back to community and I see myself in all these young kids, young boys and girls grandparents and family. So that’s what inspires the work. My role models are interesting. my, one of my biggest models, my mom and my dad, my dad actually used to be a professional cyclist in in guy in south America, but had to stop cycling because he had to make money for his 10 siblings and his parents that are struggling to make ends meet. So he actually gave me the love for biking, hence why I ended up biking across the country. And now I’m actually riding for team Canada, but my mom actually got me into tech and financial literacy at a time of early 2000, we’re the only family that had laptops.
Curtis Carmichael (09:28):
My mom really saw the value that tech was gonna be the future. So she saved up all her money, working multiple jobs to get each, each of us, me and my two older brothers laptops. And that’s kind of what started the early journey. So those are like the role models. Like I talk to all the time. There’s some role models I don’t see as often, right? One of my biggest role models as you see from the book is Nipsey hustle. In short Nipsey hustle is the best global example in history at elevating the social and economic fabric of a community. And at the end of his life at 33 had over 200 million in assets and would’ve helped assisted or hired over 40,000 people. And all his money got reinvested back into his neighborhood, which is a disenfranchised black and brown community. So those are kind of my role models that inspire me that we gotta play chess, not checkers, but we also have to know that services are currency to elevation. So we actually find ourself by losing ourself in the service of others.
Sam Demma (10:19):
Mm. I love it. I really love this idea that talent is universal. Talent is universal. Can you provide an example of a moment where you realize talent is everywhere, especially in one of these situations where opportunities didn’t exist. Maybe even growing up in the, in the, in the hood where you grew up, like give us an example of a story or a person that really brought that idea to life for you. That talent exists everywhere, no matter where you are.
Curtis Carmichael (10:49):
Yeah, definitely. My number one example is my homie, Alex we call him Dr. Alex, cuz we said he has a PhD in the streets, not, not in academia and Alex was that kid who was 12, right? I was 10 years old. He came from a Jamaican background, but in our neighborhood we lived in a food desert. So we were listening who may not know what that is, but in Toronto we have areas that are, that are very far from grocery stores. So the closest grocery store is about 90 minutes away, away. So Alex wanted to solve that problem. He didn’t want us to spend long times walking or, or long time kind of waiting for transit that never comes. So he decided I’m gonna make a motorcycle. So at 12 years old, over the course of several months, he actually invented what we called the hood motorcycle.
Curtis Carmichael (11:26):
So he, he was able to tinker with like a lawnmower engine, a broken toasters, broken microwaves and a bike parts. But he basically made a bike that was powered by a lawnmower engine. So he was able to make a motorcycle at 12 and he also made other people motorcycles, cuz he made a business out of it. He’s like, you know what? Everyone wants this. It’s something of value. I understand it’s solving a problem and a pain point in our community. So we actually gave us all Mo motorcycles. So that’s Alex at 12 years old. And, and I always say that creativity is the mother of necessity, right? So that mentality that we face problems that no one else in the world faces, but we’re able to create innovative solutions that can help add value and help people in the community. So that’s Alex who kind of inspired me to get into business and, and technology all at 10 years old, watching that happen
Sam Demma (12:13):
Is Alex, someone you stay in touch with today, what’s what’s going on in his world.
Curtis Carmichael (12:16):
Yeah. A lot of people ask about him cuz there’s a shopping book about Alex. So Dr. Alex is unfortunately at a time early 2000 before socially media, before I didn’t even know smart phones didn’t even exist yet. So we only had landlines and he moved soon after or about 13 years old. So when I was 11 and we kind of lost touch. So typically speaking when, when neighborhoods are gentrified, usually there’s a force relocation of people to other areas around the city where they don’t know where they’re going. So I’m not in touch with Alex today. It’s only a matter of time with the story out that I’ll be able to reconnect with these kinds of people. So my, my hope is that we, we can reconnect again.
Sam Demma (12:49):
I think it’s a beautiful reason to ensure we stay present in all of our conversations because we never know when our conversation with someone might be the last one for a really long time. Mm-Hmm you mentioned it to me on our last call that you guys haven’t talked. I wanted to ask you just to bring that up. yeah. Sometimes, sometimes inspiration, you know, comes from somebody who may not be around in a week or a month and we don’t know when we’re gonna connect with them. So I think it’s really important. We really value our communication with people and be present with them. And that’s something you do really well. And I think the people you mentioned as role models also did extremely powerful powerfully. Why butterflies in the trenches? I know it’s the name of your book, explain the concept and where that idea came from and share a little bit about the book itself and why you brought it to life.
Curtis Carmichael (13:36):
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Butterflies and trenches is is interesting concept. So I’m a certified stem elementary teacher by trade. So I’ve always been a buff for the first one science and something about butterflies. I always noticed that a lot of people don’t understand certain parts of nature that I think are some of the most profound concepts for us to ground our own life compass on. So when I look at butterflies, I started to realize that the only way they can survive is by eating minerals and nutrients from the mud. So there’s actually something that happens at a chemical level when water interacts with dirt and what it creates is something that’s essential for their survival and reproduction. So that kind of was beautiful for me cuz when you Google butterflies in the mud, you see millions and millions of photos. And that kind of reminded me that these caterpillar once came through the mud and now they return to the mud as a butterfly.
Curtis Carmichael (14:24):
So it made me look at disenfranchised communities globally and say our past is actually the building blocks for our future. So that’s kind of what launched the title of butterflies and the trenches. And, and when I remember as a kid even looking for a book about someone in Canada who broke the psycho poverty and empowered young people to do the same I couldn’t find it. And historically this book didn’t exist. So when I became a teenager and a young adult, I kept looking for the same book. And I couldn’t find it. And I remember becoming an elementary teacher 20 years later after looking for those books since I was a kid and now the kids I was teaching and interacting with in the community were now asking for the same book I was looking for 20 years ago. Mm. So essentially what I did, I followed the, the words of one of the greatest writers over time, Tony Morrison.
Curtis Carmichael (15:05):
And she said that if there’s a book that you wanna read that hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. So I took it as my responsibility to write the first book from a Canadian author about breaking the psycho party, empowering young people to break the psycho party, but also prepare them for the future of work. So cool thing I bought the book is that I, I didn’t only just make one, I, I also designed it as the world’s first augmented reality memoir. So it’s a book that has written text and over a hundred photos. And with the mobile app, you scan photos throughout the book and it displays interactive visual and audio content. And the goal for that is to further immerse readers in the story. So he can feel like you’re right there behind, beside me, right there beside Dr.
Curtis Carmichael (15:42):
Alex, right there beside, when the police raids my house right there at the drive-by shooting. There’s so many other stories that I wanted people to feel like they’re right there in that moment in time. So that was the best thing to do was to make it the world’s first augmented reality memoir. So second question you asked in short was what is the book about? So the way I always explain it, I always say like a couple sentences. I said, if you were to think about me being outside of the book it looks like when I was failing in school, but successful at crime, the book essentially covers what my life was like growing up in Scarborough. So a neighborhood that’s played by poverty, inadequate schooling drugs and violence, but it shows how it broke the cycle I was born into.
Curtis Carmichael (16:19):
So essentially what I do is people see the early stories of a childhood drug dealer all the way to his computer programmer, a social entrepreneur and a tech founder and how I cycled across Canada. So the run memoirs two parts. The first part is me cycling across Canada, but it goes back and forth between the ride and my actual early childhood stories. And then the second part of the book shows other people from around the world who I call butterflies and the trenches who made amazing difference in their lives in their community. And the whole OUS is to show that we all have the power and gifts to make a difference in our lives and communities, all we just need is the right people and the right opportunities and platform kind of like you’re giving me to help unwrap our gifts,
Sam Demma (17:00):
Self, top programmer developed an app that you could use to make the book come to life and I’ve downloaded it, held it up to my book pages and watched the video start playing, which is so freaking cool. I don’t think anyone’s ever done this before. What did the process look like? A bring that app to life, you know, in the book you talk about design process, the design thinking. Did you go through something similar when you were building this app and learning how to code?
Curtis Carmichael (17:26):
Yeah, definitely. Design think is cool. Cause design think is in any, anything, any successful invention that has helped humanity in some way, use the design thinking. So essentially I use the process of design thinking to stumble upon like, Hmm. How do you make people more like immerse themselves in a story that they either haven’t been in that community or they feel outta touch with that community. And that’s what kind of made me kind of spend a lot of time with students all across the country. Cause with me, it’s interesting. A lot of my friends are like, oh, are you speaking still? I’m like, I don’t really post anymore. Like my website’s old. I’m like rebranding that now. So I’ve always still been speaking. I’ve been visiting a lot of places, coast to coast and the kids are telling me that yo, all these books are just with texts and I’m like, oh great.
Curtis Carmichael (18:05):
Then maybe I should add photos. They, once I had the photos, a lot of kids are like, oh, I wish I was there. And then I’m like, I heard a lot of kids go to go say this. So I decided, you know, what, how do you make someone feel like they’re there, if there’s only written context and photos? Mm. So that’s when I’m like the app is just a no brainer. So I went through the exact same process of design thinking, which is essentially a process of how you create a solution to a problem that plagues a certain population. And it’s also user focused.
Sam Demma (18:31):
Dr. Alex did the same thing when he designed the motorcycle, right.
Curtis Carmichael (18:36):
exact same process. Apple did the same thing when they created smartphones, exact same process.
Sam Demma (18:41):
Hmm. You mentioned your dad from guy, he was super into cycling and also inspired your own interests and passionate and dedication in the field. Tell me a little more about when you started biking just in general. And then how that love for biking translated into ride for promise where you raised the a hundred K.
Curtis Carmichael (19:01):
Oh, definitely. Yeah, so my parents are both from Ghana. They they grew up middle class and my dad grew up poor and in his community, biking and farming were huge things. So when he came to Canada they’re working multiple jobs, so we didn’t see them a lot. So usually when your parents are working multiple jobs day and night shift, if your parents don’t parent you, the streets parent you. So while I was in the streets, he wanted to be able to give us something. So one was, he’s taught us about farming. So we had a garden in our backyard. We had like veggie vegetables and fruit for the whole community, but then also he gave us the love for biking. So I can remember being about six years old in region park in Toronto which is the oldest housing project in in north America actually.
Curtis Carmichael (19:42):
And when I was in that community, I just remember him looking at us while we’re trying to learn how to bike. And it wasn’t about, oh, just teaching us how to bike. It felt like he was giving us his life. Like the, the biking was the core of who he was as a professional cyclist and guy who was beating people who had like the best bikes in the world. And he grew up poor and he was beating them on average bike. So I can remember being six years old, him teaching us how to bike. And it felt like it was his life’s mission to teach us farming and biking. So that’s kind of my early story and my dad was working a lot. So our relationship strictly was just through biking, gardening, and that kind of led later in my life where you could see like Dr.
Curtis Carmichael (20:18):
Alex and you could see my bike got stolen at 12. And I ended up instead of complaining about it or asking my parents who couldn’t afford to buy a new one. I actually decided to make my own bike shop with about 10 other great school employees. And we made affordable bikes that were usually thrown out bikes. We renovated them and sold them for profit. So I’ve always been around. Bikes has been my, my core being. So when I ended up this is the ride for promise that you mentioned when I ended up coming back to my neighborhood after Queens university I got an academic athletic ride there for football and I was about to go play pro. I was talking to Hamilton tie cats and the red blacks and the CFO. And at that moment, being back in my neighborhood during the draft, I started to realize nothing had changed.
Curtis Carmichael (20:58):
It was getting worse. So my, my solution was how can I be of service? And the community center said, Hey, we’re closing down three locations potentially, cuz we just lost a hundred K funding to any way you could help. So at that moment I decided, do I wanna have a long impact long term impact and be less known or do I wanna have a short term impact and be well known? I decided to take the other route. So the other route meant hanging up my football cleats, moving back to my community and then making a difference. So when I moved back, I decided, you know, the best way to make noise is to ride across the country. So I ended up riding across the country which was huge. We ended up raising a hundred K and 60 days for these afterschool programs in in high priority Toronto community housing neighborhoods.
Curtis Carmichael (21:41):
But what I realized with that trip, I remember we talked about it before, out of 800 interactions with phone calls, donors meetings, presentations. I only got 16 yeses over the course of a year and that was what made the trip possible. But my motivation was Terry Fox and Rick Canson, Terry decided to run across Canada raised money for cancer research to find a cure, Rick Hanson, wheelchaired around the world over 40,000 kilometers in order to make the world more accessible for all, but also to find a cure for paralysis. So these stories we didn’t have in the hood. So I had to become a story of someone doing something adventurous and sports related in order to inspire young people that success is not making it out. It’s actually making your life and your community better.
Sam Demma (22:22):
Mm let’s talk about success for a second. I think so often today, people, when they hear the word success or chase your dreams or create a life of meaning, the first thing they think about is fame and fun. It’s like, you know, people talk about being getting on and being successful and it’s like, it’s just so societally linked to making money and having fun. And I think that’s so far from the truth. Sure. There’ll be moments when you’re enjoying it because you love the work and you’re pursuing the journey and there’s lots of cool people you’re gonna meet, but there’s gonna be moments where you just gotta sit down and do really difficult work for really long periods of time. How do you define success? You just kind of alluded to it in a world that’s always trying to pitch us their its own idea.
Curtis Carmichael (23:07):
Yeah. I think that’s essentially my definition. I actually learned it from a, a former drug dealer in Baltimore. Actually. He’s one of the original stories of the wire, the HBO series. And he ended up becoming a professor at the university of Baltimore and he is also like a five time, New York times bestselling author. And from going from a drug kingpin to where he is today, he actually defined it as success is not making it out. It’s making your life in your community better. And when I thought of that quote, that had nothing to do with monetary gain, that has nothing to do with, oh, life is all about my ego and filling my ego and getting status, getting popularity, getting followers, it has to do with everything where we go internal to kind of make, make ourselves better. So in sense of taking care of our health, it’s kinda like the compass, the idea of of north is nutrition.
Curtis Carmichael (23:53):
East is exercise. You have south as, as south and west as being, you know, wanna focus on water and you also wanna focus on this idea of like, we need to do things that benefit our health. That’s actually something that’s successful. But then when it comes to the external, you can actually pour from a cup that’s empty. So when I think of success of not making out, it’s not, it’s making your life, your community better. It’s all about focusing on self care and your mental health and improving your mental health and wellbeing. And then from that full cup, you’re able to overflow into other people’s cups. So that’s kind of like my mentality of, of success. It’s, it’s really about focusing on my own mental health and being well with self and then using that well and pouring into other people.
Sam Demma (24:32):
It’s beautiful too, because you mentioned in our last call, sometimes you don’t post on social media for like seven months or even a
Curtis Carmichael (24:42):
Sam Demma (24:42):
Even a, or even a year. Cause you know, you’re, you’re behind the scenes doing the work. And it’s just, it’s super inspiring, especially during a time where everyone is all about sharing and posting and following and like just, just talking about it and, and you’re doing the reverse, which is really, really inspirational. You talk about this idea of choosing to take the harder path that makes a bigger impact instead of the short success that will get you more well known, like the, you know, the athletic route. You also took that same approach with the ride for promise project, like the ride for promise wasn’t the end goal. It was the thing that you did to raise money, save the programs and generate the attention needed to bring an even bigger, longer term vision to life. Tell us a little bit about what that longer term vision is with source code academy and everything you’re doing moving forward.
Curtis Carmichael (25:35):
No, definitely. Yeah. I’ll tell you about that. So it’s cool with the, when the ride finished I knew the ride was gonna be moment in time. So I actually called my friend because I said, Hey, I have this vision for something in the future, but I think we need to cover the ride for promise journey in a documentary because we’ll be able to use this story to really show people the future of what it looks like to build an inclusive world. That includes us all. So we actually got a, the whole ride is covered in a documentary. I actually sent it to you. It’s a documentary that we won a lot of awards for. And we played at like TIFF and a few other film festivals. And that mentality kind of led me to this point of like, do you want to have short term impact or do you wanna put kind of like the groundwork done and 10 toes down and making something long term that outlives you.
Curtis Carmichael (26:18):
So essentially what I’m doing now, I actually founded with a few other people close to me a lot of well known educators, something called source code academy, Canada. So essentially what source code is it’s Canada’s firsts culture focused academy that prepares children and youth for the future of work. So essentially we work with kids K to 12, primarily in bipo and low income communities. And our goal is to provide all the programming they need in order to prepare for the future that they won’t find at home or in school. So we partner with community organizations with schools and also corporations in order to bridge that gap with educational programming. So our phase one is more so events and workshops and communities we’re currently in my hometown, my home Homeland neighborhood, actually our home office is in my community. I used to sell drugs out of, which is very full circle for me.
Curtis Carmichael (27:02):
So we do events and workshops starting from there for the Toronto community. Our phase two is to do workshops and professional development in schools for students and educators. And in our phase three, we’re actually moving quite fast for that is we’re already getting a lot of attention through that documentary. I mentioned where we wanna purchase the 50,000 square foot building in Scarborough and turning into an innovation and entrepreneurship hub for the community. So that’s kind of what we’re, we’re focused on. Once we secure that space, we’ll be able to scale our programs both across the GTA and across Canada and reach communities globally and in Caribbean and also the us. So in short, our mission for source code academy is to empower the, the next generation of global leaders from bipo and loan from communities. So they can embrace the marketplace and the global innovation economy as owners, builders, and creators.
Curtis Carmichael (27:47):
So what this means is we democratize access to tech, steam education and financial literacy and entrepreneurship programming. So holistically, like we said, we talked about it before, how do you prepare people for the future without caring for them holistically? There’s a lot of programs that do that. So what we’re trying to do is in order to teach you tech financial literacy, steam education and entrepreneurship, we have to holistically have focus areas on creative arts, mental health, literacy, fitness, and nutrition, social, emotional learning, and social justice. So our goal is when he care for the whole child, then we can prepare for their future. Like we said, that’s when we can build a world where no child is left behind.
Sam Demma (28:23):
Hmm. I love that. I really love the analogy of the compass too. I’d never heard of the Northeast Southwest analogy.
Curtis Carmichael (28:29):
That’s Anthony McClean.
Sam Demma (28:31):
Curtis Carmichael (28:33):
Speaker. Yeah. Yeah.
Sam Demma (28:34):
Huge shout out to Anthony. I love that huge
Curtis Carmichael (28:37):
Dude. One of the, one of the greatest man,
Sam Demma (28:39):
That’s amazing. Oh, you have to tell him to tune into this afterwards. yeah. Oh man. That’s so cool. Yeah. I love, I love the idea as someone who grew up athletic athletically and having soccer is centered being the center of my life, I could definitely relate to taking care of your body and how that translates into whatever you choose to do in the future as well. You’ve obviously done that you you’ve stayed extremely fit. So are you currently bike riding for teen Canada right now? I know you mentioned that earlier. Like
Curtis Carmichael (29:07):
Yeah. So my race my race was in 2021. It got canceled.
Sam Demma (29:11):
Curtis Carmichael (29:12):
Yeah. So I was I was on a team Canada age group to Athlon team for sprint to Athlon. So it’s 5k run 20 K bike, two 5k run to finish. So I got invited for that. Our whole team was meeting and then it got canceled and postponed to Romania. So it’s actually supposed to be this June, but with everything going on with the Eastern Europe right now it’s not something that I actually feel comfortable going to, so unfortunate part about it. I have to go to another qualifying race this September in order to qualify for year’s world championship. So I have to go through the whole process once again.
Sam Demma (29:45):
Yeah. By any means necessary. Right?
Curtis Carmichael (29:47):
Any means, man
Sam Demma (29:49):
so educators are tuning in loving the story right now wanting to figure out how they can take your life, take your stories, experiences, and bring them back into their classrooms to spark really awesome conversations with students and colleagues. Like how can educators utilize your book, your work to start those conversations and have learning conversations in the classroom?
Curtis Carmichael (30:13):
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So there’s the multiple ways educators can get involved. I think as a certified teacher myself, that’s how I designed the book. So it was a young adult book for kids grades six to 12, the language is very accessible, but it has a lot of benefits for adults as well. So essentially what I did for teachers we actually provided a free high quality curriculum and teaching guide for the book and it’s basically 30 pages and it covers a lot of topics that focus on preparing for the future of work. So there’s areas that focus on mental health, financial literacy, steam education, entrepreneurship creative arts, literacy social, emotional learning, and anti-racism, so that’s kind of like, it’s very all encompassing. That’s why it’s 30 page with the curriculum expectations with the culminating assignments, kind of the discussion questions. It has everything a teacher would need to teach you don’t literal.
Curtis Carmichael (30:58):
You don’t have to do anything. You just need to grab the guide in the book. So I made it easy. So the nice part about it’s free on the website. And it’s also free with the book. So the book’s also purchased only on my website exclusively. And right now there’s a few schools that already have it as retire required reading. So Ontario tech university has it as required reading for all their faculty education graduates. So all the new teachers and the veteran teachers have it as required reading. And there’s also 10 schools into TDSB. So Toronto district school board five schools in Toronto Catholics board here as well. And then there’s teachers in London, England Los Angeles, New York and Australia and the Caribbean reading it. So it’s kind of, it’s cool when you’re indie cuz now I know everyone who’s has their hands on it worldwide, but it’s my goal. Like when they get the book, they’ll learn how to read widely think critically and question everything. That’s kind of the model.
Sam Demma (31:42):
Hmm. I love it man. And the app, where can people check that out? Even if they just wanted to poke around and be impressed by what you built, not knowing any code
Curtis Carmichael (31:52):
, but it’s a code part about it. So the only way for them to actually experience the app is to have the book. So what we did is we did something in tech called we geo lock the experience. So essentially what we do is the, the, the app is only able to come to life with the book in hand, cuz you need to access the photos in the book, scan them with the app and then it displays interactive audio and visual experience. So unfortunately that’s kind of like the, it’s kinda like an NFT approach where it’s like, you have to have the actual physical copy in order to access the app. But the app is available for free on iOS as well as the free guide. I I’m big in giving things for free but yeah, it’s on iOS and then on it’s gonna be on Android soon, later this spring, I’m gonna have to take a break from coding.
Sam Demma (32:33):
Hopefully everyone listening is feeling that FOMO right now.
Curtis Carmichael (32:37):
Sam Demma (32:39):
If they are, and they’re wondering where they could purchase a book or a set of books, how can people connect with you, buy books, reach out, ask questions and absorb everything that is Curtis?
Curtis Carmichael (32:49):
Definitely. Yeah. The best way is to just go to curtiscarmichael.ca. You can check out the stuff there and there’ll be a new website we’re launching very soon in the next couple weeks. But yeah, you can check me out there. You go to purchase the book through there; anything speaking related, book related, or you just want to chat, or you need some resources in the community you’re from, regardless if you’re in Canada or the US, I’m pretty well connected. So feel free to reach out and I’ll be be of service.
Sam Demma (33:11):
Awesome. Curtis, thank you so much for coming on here, sharing some of your ideas, insights, philosophies, beliefs. Really appreciate it. Keep up the great work and we’ll talk soon.
Curtis Carmichael (33:21):
Definitely. Thanks so much, Sam. You’re a golden.
Sam Demma (33:25):
Hey, it’s Sam again. I hope you enjoyed that amazing conversation on the High Performing Educator podcast. If you, or you know, deserves some extra recognition and appreciation for the work they do in education, please consider applying or nominating them for the High Performing Educator awards, go to www.highperformingeducator.com/award. You can also find the link in the show notes. I’m super excited to spotlight and feature 20 people in 2022, and I’m hoping you or someone, you know, can be one of those educators. I’ll talk to you on the next episode, all the best.
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