GOOD

Crushing South L.A.'s Digital Divide by Teaching Youth to Code

URBAN Teens Exploring Technology is the only computer-programming academy in the inner city of Los Angeles.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUrOSVmhqCk

When you think of South Los Angeles, thanks to media stereotypes, you might think of gangs, drugs, and liquor stores. But, do you think of the digital divide? South Los Angeles is a "tech desert"—a place where technology start-ups, incubators, accelerators, and tech innovation do not exist. However, for the past three years, URBAN Teens EXploring Technology, the only computer programming academy in inner city Los Angeles, has been working diligently to ensure that tech talent and an innovative culture is fostered in South L.A.


By 2020, there will be more than 8.6 million jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math 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. That's why URBAN TxT works to ensure young men of color ages 13- to 17-years-old learn how to use coding as a tool to solve societal problems in low-income communities. We've served more than 100 teens, have a 95 percent retention rate, and 100 percent of the students that have completed our program have gone into four-year universities. Our youth are becoming engineers and business leaders.

Indeed, in the inner city where the average annual household income is about $20,000, for many poor kids, learning product development and entrepreneurship skills can be the key to having a promising future. That's why we're inspiring young men of color to be tech entrepreneurs, helping them develop critical thinking, public speaking, and entrepreneurial skills that are essential in any industry. These young men are not only learning to develop a product that solves a community problem, but also how to dream big and reach new frontiers.

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, has successfully created two web products, and has his sights set on the University of Pennsylvania. "URBAN TxT opened up my eyes to entrepreneurship," Vargas says. "Suddenly, everything seems possible."

Marco Solis is a program alumnus and is now in his third year at Stanford. He never thought he could attend a school like that, but URBANTxt helped him have high expectations of himself and motivated him to apply to such a school. Now he's studying mechanical engineering. "Without my mentor, I don't think I would be at Stanford," said Solis.

We've worked with 30 youth this year, but because of capacity and lack of resources, we also turned away 120 teens who applied to the program. To ensure the success of many kids who dream of becoming tech leaders in the 21st century, we need to grow. 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 they can accept hundreds of teens into their coding academies.

Fifty-five percent of boys in the inner city drop out high school and 70 percent of them will either end up unemployed or incarcerated. We need to change that by giving them hope and a tool for success—computer programming. And although we're working to become a national model and help fill all those jobs in the future, we can’t do it alone. We need your help. Share this post with your networks, and help create awareness about fostering future tech leaders in South Los Angeles. Be a part of a new vibrant community of technology, excellence, and innovation that URBAN TxT is creating.

Photo courtesy of Urban TxT.

Articles
via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

Keep Reading Show less

Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet