In the heart of Charleston, South Carolina, Ericka Parker stands as a beacon of empowerment and educational innovation. As the Director of Education and Enrichment at the Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC), she has dedicated her life to supporting youth academically and nurturing their growth as they transition into adulthood. Simultaneously, as the Co-founder and COO of B.E. ConnectED Educational Services and the TeacHER Empowerment Network, Ericka has been instrumental in creating safe spaces and immersive learning experiences for youth, particularly Black and brown girls.
Originally hailing from Sumter, South Carolina, Ericka's journey to Charleston began with her pursuit of education at the College of Charleston. While studying to obtain her degree, she discovered her passion for working with youth through an after-school program. Enamored by Charleston's rich culture and sense of community, she made the city her home and embarked on a mission to make a difference in the lives of its residents and youth.
Ericka's entrepreneurial spirit took flight three years ago when she co-founded B.E. ConnectED Educational Services with her colleague, Bridgette Hickman. Their venture stemmed from a shared vision of revolutionizing education by providing immersive learning experiences that bridge the gap between academia and real-world application. Witnessing the transformative impact of their programs firsthand, Ericka and Bridgette recognized the profound potential for positive change within communities.
“We started the business to engage with educators, students, parents, schools, and communities differently. We weren't seeing the type of learning experiences we knew would make a difference for students, their families, and teachers,” said Ericka Parker. “We wanted to flex our creative muscles. Working in a district can stifle you if you are not supported. We started our girl's group because we saw the impact of having a safe space to be creative, nurtured, and embraced for who you are.”
The inception of the TeacHER Empowerment Network further solidified Ericka's commitment to fostering safe spaces and empowering young girls. For eight years, the network has served as a pillar of support, offering wellness initiatives, awareness campaigns, volunteer opportunities, and educational experiences tailored to the needs of Black and brown girls. Through these initiatives, Ericka aims to cultivate a generation of empowered leaders who are equipped to navigate life's challenges with confidence and resilience.
What sets Ericka's businesses apart from competitors is their unwavering commitment to serving the community they call home. Rooted in Charleston for over two decades, Ericka and her team understand the unique challenges and opportunities facing the city's youth. Their programs are transformative and deeply rooted in cultural relevance and community engagement.
“So much of our work is rooted here in Charleston. We have taught and lived in the Charleston community for over 20 years. We know that in order for progress to be made and for the achievement gap to be closed, we have to teach differently,” said Ericka Parker. “The girls in our empowerment group have been with us since they were 8 and 9; now they are 16! We are dedicated to their growth and success and seeing other girls succeed.”
Central to Ericka's mission is the belief that education should extend beyond the confines of traditional classrooms. Her innovative approach to learning emphasizes experiential education, community engagement, and cultural relevance. By infusing creativity and passion into every endeavor, Ericka and her team have distinguished themselves as pioneers in the field of education.
One of the proudest moments in Ericka's career came when she was awarded Teacher of the Year twice—a testament to her unwavering dedication to her students and the community.
Reflecting on her journey, she fondly recalls the inaugural immersive learning experience she orchestrated with Bridgette, a milestone that ignited their shared vision and set the stage for future endeavors.
“No one does what we do! Our signature programs transform the lives of students and teachers. We are a Black women-owned company serving our community,” said Ericka Parker. “A community where we live and work in. We are hands-on and dedicated to our mission and vision.”
Ericka envisions a future where education transcends boundaries and empowers students to reach their full potential. Her ambitious plans include the establishment of a micro-school—a hub of innovation and inspiration that nurtures the holistic development of every child. By forging strategic partnerships and leveraging community support, Ericka hopes to turn this vision into reality, ensuring that future generations have access to transformative educational experiences.
In her collaboration with Okeeba and his team, Ericka has found kindred spirits who share her passion for community upliftment. Together, they are working tirelessly to spearhead projects that will enrich the lives of students and residents alike. Their budding partnership embodies the spirit of collaboration and collective empowerment—a testament to the transformative power of unity and how an entire community can benefit from two great minds with a shared vision.
“I am looking forward to working with Ericka and her amazing team. They are great assets to our city and they understands the assignment. We are enough and together we can accomplish anything. My team will add gas to their flame.” said Okeeba Jubalo.
As Ericka Parker continues to champion the cause of education and empowerment, her impact reverberates far beyond the borders of Charleston. Through her unwavering dedication and visionary leadership, she serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration, illuminating the path toward a brighter future for future generations.