Mercer University student Ashton Mayo-Beavers spent the summer working with an entrepreneur to create a digital tool addressing wealth equity. The senior, a computer science major, was one of nearly 60 undergraduate and graduate students across Georgia chosen for the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation’s Summer Internships.
Formerly called Smart Community Corps, the cohort program matches civic-minded students with technology projects that focus on creating livable and equitable communities. While working at their host sites, usually in pairs, interns learn how they can use their skills and knowledge to make a difference in the community.
Mayo-Beavers, who is from Chattanooga, Tennessee, served as a data/research intern for Olayinka Credle and her Atlanta-based business, Olayinka Wealth Equity Strategies, which works with corporations and organizations on initiatives to close the racial wealth gap.
“This project really interested me because my passion is working with the intersection of public policy and technology and making technology more accessible,” said Mayo-Beavers, a math and law and public policy minor who hopes to work toward a master’s degree in technology policy or technology and law. “I want to learn more about the ethics and law behind the technology and how we can make it more human and community centered.”
Mayo-Beavers and co-intern Cole Brown, a Georgia Tech student, assisted clients with needs such as capital-raising strategies, social media presence and podcasts. The main focus of their work, however, was the development of the Close the Gap Racial Wealth Impact Tool, a resource that partners can use to track their investments and business activities and see how they can better contribute to decreasing the wealth disparity.
In collaboration with representatives from partner company de-bias, Mayo-Beavers built out the data and formulas for the tool, which is now in the beta testing phase and will officially launch next year.
“We’ve been heavily involved in building it from the ground up,” Mayo-Beavers said.
Because her internship was hybrid, she was also able to participate in a three-week Mercer On Mission trip to South Africa this summer. So when she wasn’t teaching computer science lessons to Cape Town students, she was doing work for Olayinka Wealth Equity Strategies from afar.
The internship also provided Mayo-Beavers with networking opportunities. She gathered with her cohort for a program launch event in May and a project presentation day on Aug. 4. With Olayinka Wealth Equity Strategies, she gained insight into the venture capitalist world while working with Black-owned businesses and attending events such as the Black Enterprise Disruptor Summit in Atlanta in June.
“I truly love getting to learn from Olayinka as an entrepreneur. She’s taught me a lot about the spaces I can work in and gave me a lot of connections,” Mayo-Beavers said.
Mayo-Beavers said it was fulfilling to invest herself in a project that connected her research and knowledge to the real world. This field experience broadened her perspective and showed her new ways she can use her degree to help others.
“It’s very important to bring another lens into our education because it allows us to think more ethically and worldly about our applications,” she said. “With this internship and learning from others, I’ve been able to see different holes and where we can do better in our education but also what we can take away from our education. It doesn’t just stop in the classroom. It’s not just for the individual; it’s also for the community.”