By Michele Morgan Bolton
BROCKTON – Jass Stewart’s proposal for a downtown youth innovation center is now in the hands of his advisors.
Several dozen people – including youth and school leaders – have two weeks to offer thoughts and then the outgoing city councilor-at-large will know how BIG BANG!, his incubator initiative, will go over.
“It was very, very difficult to get the idea on paper,” said Stewart, who has hoped to launch the project for a decade.
Working with Big Picture Learning of Providence, Stewart describes BIG BANG! as a place “where inspiration and aspiration meet” for 16- to 24-year-olds, the fastest growing area demographic.
It would be the place where any youth with a dream, a vision of becoming an artist or artisan, a technician or technologist, a poet or public servant could get the advice, resources and investments needed to achieve it.
Stewart needs $375,000 over two years to launch the program that will operate out of a storefront. In the early days it could be a borrowed space, he said, depending on how much money comes in.
Stewart needs a stable funding stream for core operations by the third quarter of 2017. And he said the program itself should be up and running by the beginning of next calendar year.
BIG BANG! could work like an Apple Store, offering a large room with multiple spaces that can hold about 75 people.
There would be 10 staffers – called genius connectors – representing various industries, talents and experiences.
At any one time, there would be small groups and one-on-one sessions between members and mentors, working on business or marketing plans, for example.
“We will place a high value on the talents and energy of young people who are often ignored for their potential and frequently blamed for society’s problems,” he said.
BIG BANG! will both complement and supplement formal education by focusing on the knowledge, skills and growth that schools don’t address well or at all, he said.
The aim is to get kids to realize their dreams, no matter how big, he said.
“Brockton is ready to go farther, to engage many more young people – in school and out – who are looking for wholly new and different ways of capitalizing on their energy and aspirations,” he said.
“Now is the time to invest in skilled mentorship, networking and resources to move beyond aspiration to solid success,” he said.