About 75 middle school girls from Dallas and Collin counties attended the inaugural Capital One Innovate(Her) event at the University of Texas in Dallas campus in Richardson. Monica Shortino, director of Social Innovation at Capital One, said the event was part of Capital One’s Future Edge mission to prepare the DFW area for a digital-driven future. 

Through 2020, Shortino said Capital One will invest $150 million into programming, mentorship and partnerships to inspire the next generation of leaders and thinkers.

The Innovate(Her) conference was designed to target middle school-aged girls and spark a fascination for technology, entrepreneurship and financial literacy for today and beyond. 

“We hope that this will spark a seed in them that will continue to grow in the years to come,” she said. “We invest in creating these future leaders, and these experiences are doing that for them: giving them access to mentors – from the community, from Capital One’s Women in Tech program – to show girls that there are people that look just like them that are already in these fields and it’s very doable.” 

Middle school girls from Dallas, Richardson, Frisco and Allen attended Tuesday’s conference. Each group of girls was partnered with mentors who’ve embodied those 21st century skills of finance, technology, personal branding and design thinking. All of the girls rotated activities that illustrated budgeting, creating a brand and thinking creatively to solve a goal. Among the mentors were local entrepreneurs like Danyel Surrency Jones, CEO and co-founder of Powerhandz Inc., an athletic training product company based in Frisco. 

Jones said she got involved with Innovate(her) to share her entrepreneurial experiences with young girls and inspire them to pursue tech and finance careers as they grow older. 

In her career, she’s often been the only woman and only person of color in many meetings. But to get more women at the table means young girls have to know they can do anything, go anywhere and achieve anything. 

“If you can teach young girls to break this mindset of fear, of procrastination, of handouts and entitlement, and to just go for it, we can do anything we set our mind to,” she said. “You don’t have to choose a track of going to school and working for someone. If that works for you, that is absolutely amazing. But you can also take those same skill sets and make them work for you and your own company and your own legacy.”

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