Oscar Menjivar, URBAN TxT founder and a graduate of Jordan High School in Watts, spoke earlier today with game-changers from across the world who were invited to Los Angeles by GOOD, a organization that is building physical and digital communities around education, innovation, and social responsibility.
Oscar met with the fellows to explain our model and how we at URBAN TxT view on using computer programming to build strong young leaders in low-income communities. Oscar had a chance to show how we inspire teens to become leaders through technology. “Leadership is our main priority, we want them to be able to speak in public, to negotiate, to express themselves. Coding is an engagement tool.”
The GOOD fellowship brought together social entrepreneurs and nonprofit champions from South Africa, Ghana, Mexico, New Zealand, and more. Their organizations range from identify campaigns in areas torn by apartheid, to ones inspiring kids to be creators and autonomous, and everything in between.
Fellows who participated in the discussion were curious about how we develop a strong work ethic.” Oscar had a clear response, “we help the kid buy into the idea that they will be greater than they imagined. Once the student is inspired, they will put in the hours and work needed to succeed with code. We teach them that technology can change lives positively.”
A GOOD fellow who runs a nonprofit that brings technology to favelas in Brazil was curious about creating a culture of initiative and autonomy. “One of the problems we face is that our kids always expect to be told what to do, and that they have to deserve the right to make their decisions. Leadership and autonomy is a challenge, how do you solve it?,” asked the fellow.
“We push them to make their own decisions and allow them to fail early and quickly. We don’t cripple them by giving them answers. We stress this through our entire program, and eventually when they don’t know a solution they go find it themselves,” responded Oscar.
During our coding academies we strive to cause a mind shift that allows our teens to see that they should have high expectations of themselves. We know that teens will rise to the challenge if high expectations are set. One of the ways we do that, Oscar shared, is by introducing our teens to top universities. “We tell them ‘you’re not going to community college or a low tier school, you are the best and therefore should go to the best four year University in the nation.”
Oscar wrapped up his discussion by sharing a philosophy that is at the core of URBAN TxT. “Our impact needs to go beyond our students, we’re impacting the community and organizations at large by preparing amazing youths for amazing futures,” he said. “Our teens work with professionals in our network and alumni who have finished the program to develop websites and provide IT solutions for other organizations, like ELACC and DIY Girls.”
Head to our website to learn more about how we use coding to inspire teens to become tech leaders. Contact us on Twitter at @URBANTxT or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Blog written by Juan Vasquez, Communications Coach 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. To learn more about URBAN TxT visit www.urbantxt.com. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanSVas and URBAN TxT at @URBANTxT.