Celebrating National Women’s History Month
The journey of a million miles has brought Dr. Yvette Butler from a vision of achievement to an influential voice of change. Her passion for education, advocacy for community-based projects and economic development, and fervor for making a difference in the lives of youth – all make her a 21st Century “gap buster” and game changer. Dr. Butler is the Founder and Executive Director of GapBuster, Inc., an innovative non-profit educational enrichment program designed in 1999 to close the academic achievement gap and raise the success bar for students, from kindergarten to twelfth grade.
Trailing her base roots from California and a place where she evolved as a young adult and student of life, Dr. Yvette Butler migrated from New York City to the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area in 1995, and with a deliberate effort in mind – to continue her dedication to raising awareness and promoting higher levels of achievement for students through the development of supplemental learning experiences.
With a collective of experience working in the field of HIV for over ten years, she took her expertise to Howard University upon arriving in Washington, D.C. There she worked as the Study Coordinator and Co-Investigator for the AIDS Clinical Trial Group (ACTG). She was directly involved in providing HIV preventive education to Howard University’s allied health students and other health care providers. Her extensive knowledge in HIV/AIDS treatment, clinical trials, and patient management helped her to develop and implement a variety of educational programs and investigational medications for patients with diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac disorders. She also served as a faculty member at the National Minority AIDS and Education Training Center (NMAETC) located at Howard University.
In 1999, the call for educating and advocating became even greater for Dr. Yvette Butler. With a closer look into the challenges her daughter faced while in the public school system, she realized a greater need for the development of creative enrichment programs that would motivate each students’ learning potential and bridge the gap between minorities and non-minorities alike. She began in her home, volunteering to assist youth in the area of math. With forethought and determination, Dr. Butler founded GapBuster, Inc. as a non-profit organization in October 2001.
Over the years, GapBuster, Inc. has created a number of programs that focus on the unique individuality of each student. These services offer free or low cost aid to socio-economic disadvantage and troubled youth. Included is an after-school enrichment program that challenges students to achieve their maximum potential and become good citizens. Dr. Butler believes that all students are able to affect change – socially, locally, nationally, and internationally, while serving their communities.
To further support this principle, one of the many programs she has collaborated with is the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Pre-College Initiative Program, utilizing project-based instruction. In addition to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the students are able to engage in a program designed to meet the County’s assisting in making Safe Streets and Neighborhoods and Healthy and Sustainable Communities. Additionally, the program is aligned with the Common Core Standards for College and Career Readiness.
In 2013, GapBuster, Inc. became a 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grantee called Building Scholars for the Future. The program was created to supplement the academic needs of 90 at-risk and/or potential gang involved minorities and low-income middle school students, while exposing them to STEM utilizing project-based learning. The program provides middle and high school students with academic support as well as providing training and skills to succeed as adults and future leaders. In 2014, GapBuster, Inc., also known as the GapBuster Learning Center, incorporated an innovative approach to making physical activity accessible, affordable and fun while integrating STEM activities.
Dr. Butler says, “It is well established that there is strong correlation between education and health.”
The acclimation of these STEM activities, without fail, effectively help students to connect the dots between education and health – family and community – and teach them how to stay focused, informed, empowered, and accountable. Since its’ inception, GapBuster has worked with students to increase their physical activity and expose them to healthier and more beneficial habits, in and out of the classroom. Advocating for students of all nationalities, she believes that the future of our country’s long-term economic prospects greatly depends on the education of our residents.
In 2010, Dr. Butler organized the very first League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in Silver Spring, Maryland, a global organization to which she has served for over a decade. As an active supporter and volunteer, she currently serves as the LULAC Maryland State Director.
Dr. Butler’s volunteerism is unremitting and wide-ranging. She has taken the lead in positions such as Volunteer Coordinator for the Parent and Teachers Association (PTA), Mentor for more than 12 years with the Montgomery County Educational Forum, Advisor to the Congressional Black Caucus NetGeneration of Youth Leadership Academy (2004), Chair for the NAACP Parents’ Council of Montgomery County (2004-2006), Graduate of the Leadership Montgomery Class (2006-2007), and Vice Chair for the Commission on Children and Youth (2005-present).
To add to Dr. Butler’s many awards and accomplishments are:
- Acknowledgement and feature highlight in The Gazette, Voices in Education (2011)
- Educator of the Year Award, African American Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County (2006)
- Honoree of the Tribute to African American Women, Mary McLeod Bethune ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History) Montgomery County Branch (2006)
- J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association, Inc. Community Service Award (2005)
- Channel 7 Toyota Tribute to Working Women Award for outstanding efforts in the community (2003)
- Civic Organization of the Year Award, The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Minority Coalition (2003)
- Distinguished Service to Public Education, Community Individual Award, Montgomery County Board of Education (2003)
- Honored during Black History Month for the “Making a Difference” segment, Channel 8 (2002)
- Outstanding Service as Faculty for the National Minority AIDS Education and Training Center (1999-2001)
Dr. Butler has been involved with numerous civic engagements and community events with local Senators and County Officials, and she has even been an invitee to The White House for Christmas dinner with the First Family. Additional positions she’s held include, but are not limited to: Medical Science Liaison for Parke-Davis and Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Medical Director for the Antiretroviral Fortovase, at the Alliance for Scientific Affairs and Publications, Medical Director for Roche Pharmaceutical’s Editorial Board Certified by the University of Alabama, and faculty member at the Mid-Atlantic AIDS Education Training Center (MAAETC).
Dr. Yvette Butler wears many hats: entrepreneur, parent, educator, mentor, social activist, facilitator, community advocate, philanthropist, colleague and friend. Her commitment to the community is relentless and her momentum, uninterrupted. She continues to soar through her countless membership affiliations with organizations such as the American Diabetes Association, AIDS Clinical Trial Group, and work as the Political Action Chair to the NAACP Montgomery County Branch. Her membership with the University of Maryland Community Research Advisory Board (CRAB), as well as several other non-profit organizations, speaks volumes about her passion and mission to change the lives of youth. Above all, Dr. Butler’s standards for excellence and unequivocal methods for helping students rise above their insecurities with dignity, give prominence to her character and purpose-driven life.
Today, the GapBuster Learning Center has reached more than 5,000 students in grades K-12, both in the Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Maryland areas. Dr. Butler has worked diligently to ensure that there is equity in the Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Public Schools, between students and staffing. In addition, the students enthusiastically participate in local and national academic competitions, partake in national college tours, and are involved in social action movements such as local marches and community drives. Many of these events provide the students with rare and enlightening opportunities to travel, from Atlanta, Georgia to South Africa.
In April 2014, she was a keynote speaker for the National Honors Society at Wheaton High School in Montgomery County Maryland. Through her commitment to GapBuster, Inc., Dr. Butler has demonstrated that awareness – and action – are the keys to unlock life’s limitless potentials. www.gapbuster.org