Teens eXploring Technology
History, Made! A Recap of South Los Angeles Demo Day 2014

History, Made! A Recap of South Los Angeles Demo Day 2014

On Saturday, August 2nd 2014, ten teams formed by South Los Angeles teens stood before a packed event hall filled with family and friends, tech enthusiasts and political leaders and shared with them the incredible products each team built over the course of 15 weeks. On this day, history would be and as the first teen tech startup from South Los Angeles would receive seed funding. The South LA teens had an impressive and varied array of products, but all ten teams shared a singular focus: to engage in a live pitch competition and prove that their product and company was the best, thereby becoming the winner of South Los Angeles Demo Day 2014. (See the recorded live stream of South Los Angeles Demo Day 2014, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z1aomZRkkI )

After a greeting and opening by Teens eXploring Technology founder, Oscar Menjivar, Jesus Vargas, a Teens eXploring Technology alumnus, two-time Demo Day winner and a rising freshman at Syracuse University, introduced himself as Master of Ceremony, and provided those in attendance with his personal insights and experience and appreciation for the profound impact TxT has had on him.

Also as part of Demo Day, Councilman of the 9th district, Curren Price spoke on the need for students like those in TxT to change the community paradigm and the external perception of South Los Angeles through their pioneering and entrepreneurial efforts.  State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, visited from the California State Capitol in Sacramento, and spoke to the crowd on the merits and successes that Teens eXploring Technology has achieved since the program’s incipiency; the positive regional economic impact that bridging the technological access divide will have, and spoke on his personal desire to lead a statewide effort in maximizing the use of technology and textbook compatible “blended learning” methods, to ensure that 21st century technology skills are meshed with a traditional academic curriculum.

Determining which teams would enjoy 1st, 2nd and 3rd place was a judging panel consisting of Kevin Hossman, Director of User Experience at Rosetta; Sam Brotherton, Software Engineer at Google; Brian Stuart, an Angel Investor; Kevin Winston, CEO of Digital LA; and Una Fox, Vice President of Enterprise Data Management at The Walt Disney Company.

The TxT’ers stood firm and poised as they presented the products that they have been working on for the past 15 weeks and fielded in-depth questions posed by the judging panel. Ultimately, the judges determined that Groupiee - a phone app which does away with the inconvenience and inefficiency of group photos by having all participants in the photo look at one camera, and then shares the photo with all participants – would win 3rd place; Missing Object Miracle (M.O.M.) – a bluetooth driven, Arduino styled hardware (first in TxT history) device that notifies users when they are leaving their home/office/car without an essential item - would win 2nd place; and determined that the 1st place and grand prize winner was Bond – an online platform and application which allows teens to post, review and rank local locations to go on fun and safe dates and meetups with friends, while keeping parents at ease.

History was made on Saturday, August 2nd and we thank everyone – sponsors, political leaders, parents, friends, judges - who supported and made Demo Day 2014 the best yet. South LA is on the move, and is producing the next great minds in technology and entrepreneurship!
                     
Please feel free to contact us with any questions and/or comments you may have about South Los Angeles Demo Day 2014 and the Teens eXploring Technology Program: info@urbantxt.com
 
See History made at South LA’s Demo Day, via the recorded live stream link from the day:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z1aomZRkkI
 
**Read the ‘Los Angeles Times’ and ‘Our Weekly Los Angeles’ articles on TxT and South Los Angeles Demo Day 2014**:

Los Angeles Times article: 
“Breaking Socioeconomic codes at computer camp” http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-0803-teenage-tech-20140803-story.html

OurWeekly Articles:
“Urban teens set to pitch their tech companies”:http://ourweekly.com/news/2014/jul/31/urban-teens-set-pitch-their-tech-companies/

“Teen Tech Teams vie for Seed Funding”:http://ourweekly.com/news/2014/aug/14/teen-tech-teams-vie-seed-funding

Oscar looks back on his TEDx talk - inspiring teens to become leaders through technology

While at TEDx Embry Riddle I enjoyed seeing how people lit up when I told them about the amazing tech talent we have in South Los Angeles. I was happy to see that most agreed when i would say “We have talent in our backyards and we need to foster it in order to form technology leaders.” I was inspired by those who came up to me during my time at TEDx and said  ”Oscar, we need more young men of color in the technology. They will help us solve the big issues of tomorrow.” 

A main thing that stood out during my time at TEDx was that I was surrounded by great minds and many talented people. Individuals like Fabian Oefner used his lens to helped me look at life from a different lens. He takes pictures of molecules and presents it to the world in a way that inspires us to think how much beauty is around us. I recommend you look at http://fabianoefner.com/ for inspiration.

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Amir, TxT’er and techpreneur in the making, breaks down the Chromebook

Chromebook is a laptop for everyone,according to Google.  In this blog, I will share some of my thoughts about the Google Chromebook, the capabilities of the Chromebooks and it’s Operating System, Chrome OS.  Along the way we’ll discuss how I have used Chromebooks and what I have used them for. To begin, I’ll break down the Chromebook’s pros and cons based on my experience with it.

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Three tips on how to engage teens with coding

Last Sunday, I was at Start Up Weekend Santa Barbara and met several entrepreneurs who were impressed with the work of URBAN Teens Exploring Technology (URBAN TxT). I was congratulated by founders of other start ups for helping create the new generation of tech leaders.  One founder in particular said “So many people say they are teaching kids how to create their own products, but you guys have something to show for. Your kids are so impressive.” In my mind I was thinking, “how cool, they see that teens have a huge potential to change the world.” Another founder said “I am amazed by how you guys keep them engaged through the entire process of creating a product, How do you do it?.” I answered, “we are building a community of learners who love to code.”  Here are three tips on how we engage teens with coding. 

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Changing the World through Technology: Oscar Menjivar at TEDxEmbryRiddle

Oscar gave a TEDx talk a few weeks about discussing how to change the world by building positive communities and inspiring young men of color to be tech leaders through coding. 

Councilmember Curren Price presents City Resolution to URBAN Teens eXploring Technology for efforts to bridge South Los Angeles digital divide

“South LA is ready to lead the efforts of changing the lives of young men of color while setting the tech world on fire,” said Oscar Menjivar, founder of URBAN TxT, while standing next to Councilmember Curren Price inside Los Angeles City Hall. “This City Resolution helps us keep working towards helping our young men of color become successful and not become victims to the streets. Our boys will no longer be part of the 55% who drop out of high school.”

Councilmember Price honored URBAN TxT, the organization’s leadership team, and supporters for the more than 60 teens that have gone through the program. The presentation was held on Friday, November 1st, where Councilmember Curren Price presented Menjivar, his family, friends, and a few of the teens with a City Resolution honoring the work being done through URBAN TxT to expand access to technology in South Los Angeles and to reduce the drop out rate of young men of color.

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Organizational processes and critical thinking key for teens to reach success

At URBAN TxT we know we help our teens develop critical thinking skills because they have to experience project management at an early age - our teens are between the 7th and 11th grade. 

Each teen learns the value of breaking projects and tasks down to their subparts, and figuring out the deadlines for each. This type of work ethic is priceless in college and in the professional world, where you are expected to get your responsibilities done in a timely manner without someone continuously prodding you along and grading you on performance. 

Jesus, a second-year TxT’er and senior in high school, uses tech and what he’s learned from his time with URBAN TxT to keep him on task.

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“I use the app Wunderlist to stay on top of my school work,” he said. “I like it because it allows me to create subtasks, so if I need to complete my supplemental essay for a college app by December but I need to have brainstorming sessions, drafts, and edits done before then I can schedule it all.”

“With URBAN TxT I learned to create a system for myself, but it’s a non-traditional system,” added Jesus. “I’ve learned how to have fun, set time for myself, and still do everything I need to get done.”

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Meet Maliik, product manager & 1st year TxT’er

"While at URBAN TxT I learned how to think more critically and the value of going above and beyond. I also learned that the connections you make are more important than the things you get. 

During the coding academy I built up my communication, networking, and public speaking skills, and my confidence.

What I like most about URBAN TxT is the creative freedom we have as TxT’ers, and that the coaches don’t baby us. 

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Councilman Curren Price presents City Resolution to URBAN TxT - Video

On November 1st, 2013, Councilmember Curren Price presented Oscar Menjivar, founder of URBAN TxT, and teens from our program with a City Resolution for our work to bridge the digital divide in South Los Angeles. 

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We’ve been in the news lately, check us out!

We’ve been receiving much appreciated media attention and support due to our crowdfunding campaign and efforts to inspire teens to become tech leaders through coding. 

Please check out the articles and share them with your networks:

EdTech Digest - On A Mission 

Venture Beat - URBAN TxT helps at-risk kids learn to code, avoid gangs, & stay in school

Intersections South LA - URBAN TxT looking for support in crowdfunding campaign 

The Good Men Project - Technology is Society’s Equalizer – Urban TxT is Changing Futures for Young Men 

GOOD - For Low-Income Youth, Learning to Code’s About More Than Jobs 

Huffington Post - Organization Uses Coding as a Leadership Development Tool and Looking to Grow Impact