One of the main philosophies at URBAN Teens eXploring Technology, the three-year old organization based in South Los Angeles, is that "nothing is hard, just a lot of work." The teens and staff live this mentality, making URBAN TxT's new crowdfunding campaign on Razoo that much more exciting as the organization works to raise $100,000 between now and November 13th.
Photo credit: URBAN Teens eXploring Technology
"Over the past years we've served more than 100 teens, reached over 400 families, have a 95 percent retention rate and 100 percent of students that completed our program have gone into four-year universities," said Oscar Menjivar, founder of URBAN TxT. "It's time to make a bigger impact, and our goal is to reach five additional schools, expand our summer coding academy and to start an innovation hub for the South Los Angeles community."
By 2020 there will be more than 8.6 million jobs in STEM fields, and currently only 16 percent of students graduate high school proficient in subjects that lead into these careers. The number is even lower in areas like South Los Angeles, where young men of color face concerning drop out and incarceration rates. The organization is making a big impact in the South Los Angeles education scene by using coding as a leadership development tool and a curriculum that shakes students loose of many barriers that prevent them reaching their full potential.
"With us, teens develop discipline, confidence, and critical thinking skills as they develop into tech leaders," explains Menjivar. "Our focus is much bigger than just the technology, for us its about inspiring young men to be role models for other teens and to build a positive community along the way.
As access and connectivity slowly but surely grow in areas like South Los Angeles and Watts, there needs to be a continued push to use technology for something greater than itself. Organizations like URBAN TxT build positive communities because they look past the tech, and instead focus on impact.