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  • Writer's pictureClearly Innovative

What is Luma Lab? The Education Arm of Clearly Innovative

What is Luma Lab?

Luma Lab is a tech and entrepreneurship education program that we’ve developed for the past 3-years. Luma Lab is the education arm of Clearly Innovative, a minority-owned web and mobile development agency that creates highly integrated, digital solutions that empower our clients to be effective, innovative industry leaders.

We understand that many people lack access to industry-leading insight and education about tools used to develop digital products that solve problems they understand. The goal of Luma Lab is to change that.

Luma Lab exposes students to the ever-changing world of technology, provides long-term support and empowers them to take a seat at the digital table as programmers, designers and entrepreneurs. We do not consider our target audience as customers but rather creative minds that we can foster to become innovators and creators of technology. Luma Lab is unique because we focus not only on teaching code but also user experience/design, entrepreneurship and lean startup principles. Our staff is made up of developers and tech industry professionals who reflect the communities that we serve and we bring our program to the students— understanding that this is critical, in order for education to be accessible.

Since 2012, we’ve taught over 200 students in four different institutions through after school programs, summer camps, hackathons and year-long curriculums.

How did Luma Lab Start?

Before Luma Lab, Clearly Innovative CEO Aaron K. Saunders helped produce a youth hackathon with DiversiTech in Anacostia in 2012. There was a lack of confidence that the hackathon would get a strong turnout. But fortunately, the event was well attended and successful. The kids were excited about the work and when the hackathon ended, Aaron was frustrated that there was no place for the kids to funnel their enthusiasm so they could continue learning and experimenting with technology. Aaron was inspired to create a tech education program where students who are interested in technology could continue their passion.

Following this hackathon event, Aaron Saunders met Patrick Gusman, COO of SwiftWing Ventures, and discussed their mutual interest in providing access to tech education in underexposed communities. The two immediately set out to address their concerns by piloting a tech ed program, Startup Middle School, at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science two years ago. As a result of the program’s success, Clearly Innovative developed Luma Lab to provide more opportunities for students at Howard Middle School and a variety of institutions including the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington and Georgetown Day School.

Our curriculum was created by mobile technology professionals to inspire children to become industry leaders themselves. With our curriculum, students work in teams and identify problems in their community, then collaboratively brainstorm how to solve the problem(s) through a mobile application. Using a community activism theme helps make the students aware of how technology can solve real-world problems. Students learn how to create mobile application prototypes through analysis of user experience/design components, learning how to code with languages ranging from HTML to Javascript, and presenting their concepts as a business pitch to an audience and a panel of judges.

Depending on the skill level of our students and expectations of the institution where our program is implemented, we can adjust various components of our curriculum to assure the value of our program for all Luma Lab students.

What are the Short & Long Term Goals of Luma Lab?

We’re currently aiming to teach and provide in-person educational resources to 300 new students in the 2015-16 school year in the Washington DC area.

After several conversations with college students and administrators including students from Aaron’s cross-platform mobile app development course at Howard University, Luma Lab strongly believes that many Computer Science programs struggle to adequately prepare students for tech career opportunities. As our program grows, we also want to provide college students additional support to learn relevant programming languages that are used in industry-leading technology companies.

We are also developing an additional curriculum, that is tailored for individuals entering the tech sector workforce. It would include in-person and virtual classes as well as in-person and virtual office hours.

Our Luma Lab program is an our effort to connect more communities with tools and skills that’ll enable them to build digital solutions to problems they see. If you’re interested in learning more about our mission, working with us or how you can support Luma Lab, email us at and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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