Op-Ed by Dr. Misha Malyshev, Teza Technologies

Dr. Misha Malyshev is the CEO and Founder of Teza Technologies, a global quantitative trading firm based on talent, science and innovation, and headquartered in Chicago. Malyshev was born and raised in Russia and has a PhD in astrophysics from Princeton University. He and his company are proud sponsors of numerous philanthropies, including After-School All-Stars, where he serves on the Board of Directors. For more information, follow Misha Malyshev on Twitter @MishaMalyshev1 or visit MishaMalyshev.com.

Misha Malyshev: The Role of Corporate Giving in Curbing Youth Violence

You saw the headlines; everyone did. Eighty-two people were shot in Chicago over the July 4th holiday weekend. While we were celebrating our national independence, many of our fellow Chicagoans were learning first-hand that the promise of the American Dream was fading in contrast to the stark reality of daily violence. It shouldn’t be that way.

I am a Russian immigrant who came to this country to realize the promise of the American Dream and I have experienced incredible success with Teza Technologies, the company I founded in 2009. That success has caused me to consider which elements really enabled me to achieve so much. My commitment to giving back has led me toward people and organizations that share my belief that education is the key that ensures that young people today are able to achieve tomorrow. Thankfully, many leaders in the private sector share my view. It is my hope that by working together to increase educational opportunities for our youth, we can help decrease, and perhaps even eliminate the violence that so dramatically disrupts their lives.

Toward this end, this is my second year working with After-School All-Stars (ASAS), and their CampUs college preparation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) training program. The program focuses on at-risk Middle School students and it gives them a place to be during the critical after-school hours of 3:00 to 6:00 pm and also the summer season. More than that, it gives them something to work towards. Eighty-three percent of the students who attended the inaugural CampUs Chicago in 2012 are still on track to graduate from high school on time. Eighty-five percent of ASAS students expect to earn a degree beyond high school.

This year, CampUs students will spend a week staying overnight at University of Chicago dorms. They will have a chance to learn first-hand what it takes to be accepted into one of the top colleges in the world, and what they need to be doing now to stay on that path. They will also meet with local business leaders for a close-up look at how to succeed professionally. The camp also serves as a positive disrupter by taking kids out of their everyday environment and exposing them to new people and a new environment.

The program will focus on the increasingly important STEM field. The success of companies like mine now and in the future depends on more young Americans learning about science, technology, engineering and math. At CampUs more than fifty Chicago tweens will compete in teams to see who can come up with the best idea for a new mobile phone app. They’ll have to create business plans for that app, and then present those plans to a blue ribbon panel. The best groups will go on to compete nationwide this fall.

Thanks to CampUs, these low-income Chicago youth will embark on a path towards a bright future. They are getting tools to be future workers, managers and CEOs at top companies in the telecommunications, consulting and finance industries. I know that a lot of these young students are coming from difficult circumstances, but by showing them a viable path to success, we can break the cycle of violence and tragedy.

Instead of wringing our hands, let’s remember to keep investing in the programs that work. Because the true answer to violence doesn’t just come from adding more police – it means giving all of our residents a better option.