On A Mission

Inspiring teens to become tech entrepreneurs through a crowdfunding campaign.

GUEST COLUMN | by Juan Vasquez

One of the teams discussing ways to improve their web appAt URBAN TxT, we believe that nothing is hard, just a lot of work, which is why we’re on a mission to raise $100,000 so that we can accept hundreds of teens into our coding academies. Our campaign is running on Razoo and will wrap up on November 13th.

“Over the past years we’ve served more than 100 teens, reached over 400 families, have a 95% retention rate, and 100% of students that completed our program have gone into 4-year universities,” says 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.”

We use coding as a tool to inspire the young men of color in our program to be tech leaders because of the critical thinking, public speaking, and entrepreneurial skills they develop. But there is more.

By 2020, there will be more than 8.6 million jobs in STEM fields, and currently only 16% 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.  As we develop leaders we are also providing solutions for today’s problems and tomorrow’s needs.

However, we can’t do it alone. To make this campaign a success and to continue doing the type of work we do while ensuring that our 7th through 11th graders keep reaching their full potential we need your support. Donate today to our $100,000 crowdfunding campaign, share this post with your networks, help create awareness about our way of building future tech leaders, and most importantly be part of the positive community we are helping to build.

Up until this point we’ve operated on a shoestring budget of about $10,000 from an Edison International grant. Oscar, who spent more than 10 years as an educational technology professional, has invested close to $45,000 of his own money into URBAN TxT. “Funding has been our biggest challenge,” says Oscar. “You can help change that.”

The results so far are remarkable. Jesus Vargas, 17, had a 2.8 GPA before entering URBAN TxT. Now he has a 3.8 GPA, is student body president of his school, is involved in additional extracurriculars, has successfully created two web products, and has his sights set on the University of Pennsylvania. “URBAN TxT opened up my eyes to entrepreneurship,” he says. “Suddenly, everything seems possible.”

Marco Solis is a program alumnus and now in his third year at Stanford. He never thought he could attend a school like that, but Menjivar helped him navigate the application and financial aid processes. Now he’s studying mechanical engineering. “Without him, I don’t think I would be here,” says Marco.

Juan Vasquez is Communications Coach and Director of Communications for URBAN Teens eXploring Technology. URBAN TxT is a nonprofit organization setting the tech world on fire by inspiring teens to become tech entrepreneurs. Through coding, teens in URBAN TxT learn entrepreneurship, leadership, and public speaking. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanSVas and URBAN TxT at @URBANTxT. Help them here.


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