DateOctober 2011 -December 2016
My RoleFounder, Partnership Development, Fundraiser, Program Lead
Problem: Lack of Diversity and Exposure in Tech
The question in 2012, prior to the emergence of orgs dedicated to exposing youth to tech was “how we expose more Black and Latinx students to careers in tech and immersive tech experiences?”
Executing The Vision
I assembled a team of engineers, designers and digital creatives from varying tech and design companies as key stakeholders. The first phase was to get these stakeholders to get their company buy in to have a cohort of young people come for a visit, tour and Q&A.
I then sought out students that were interested in video games, fashion design, and photography to see if they’d commit to spending a week visiting and learning from digital creative professionals and building out a website from the sourced inspiration of the week.
This initial group became our beta testers for the program model that blossomed into a summer camps and an afterschool program.
I grew Exposure Camp from an initial student cohort of 9 students and 5 stakeholders to over 500 students a legion of NYC public school placements, and over 40 volunteers from all of the major NYC based tech companies . Our initial investment was 15 mac book pros loaned to us from Etsy and my personal money. By year 3 we had grants and private funding in excess of 100k complete with a partnership with MV Development Corporation that gave us physical space for our Exposure Camp Hub. The Exposure Camp Hub was a storefront location with floor to ceiling windows so that the entire community could witness the tech experiences the youth were engaging in which ultimately increased our reach.
January 2013 I pitched the Bronx and Mount Vernon Community to host a series of Teen Tech Bashes with a goal of broadening the exposure of tech to students. I reached out to engineers, designers, a neighborhood church and host of students to see what it would like to host an overnight party with the goal of all participants finishing with a tech build. The thought was could we create an experience around tech that would be fun, fully immersive that everyone would want to participate in. I built out curriculum for building a basic app, game and website that could be done in 6 hours.
We had students come in at 8 pm and the party lasted until 6 am, complete with food, snacks a dj and fun activities centering a coding experience. It was a cross between a hackathon and midnight basketball, none of which the students were familiar with but had gained momentum in other spaces and just had to be designed for their excitement. Students, my son included helped me find the right games, snacks and timetable that would be bearable and with the support of Mozilla’s funding it was a monthly success for 6 months changing the mindset of a community and some peers who didn’t think they’d have the slightest interest in coding.
- Led the research and strategy which galvanized a Community Development Corp to partner with us to offer space, rent-free to build out a teen tech lab.
- Acquired over 50k in grant money, computers, tablets and technology to equip the teen tech lab from relationships with NYC tech companies, community activists and private donors.
- Designed afterschool programming and the first of its kind overnight Tech parties which led to over 40% of our middle schoolers in the program to choose a STEM-related HS elective and over 30% of our HS seniors to apply to college in a STEM-related field.
- Designed pipeline strategies with People Teams and Diversity Teams in tech that benefited 20% of our students gaining mentoring or internships with partner companies.