Teens Exploring Technology (TXT) was founded by Oscar Menjivar, a graduate of Jordan High School, in 2008. Growing up in Watts, California, Oscar lost friends to drugs, crime, and prison. He thanks his mentor and lacrosse coach, Mr. Wonders, for helping him to stay on track and encouraging him to pursue higher education. Oscar ultimately received an undergraduate degree in computer science from Cal Poly Pomona and a Master’s degree in Educational Technology from Pepperdine University.
Teens Exploring Technology was created because many of Oscar’s adolescent experiences connected with his vision to empower teens from similar communities as his . As a kid Oscar had a passion for technology, so he enrolled in the only tech class offered in his school, which turned out to be a glorified typing class. Even though his school didn’t offer any relevant opportunities in tech, Oscar pursued his love for technology through higher education.
A decade after graduating, Oscar was invited to speak with the students of Jordan High School. He was shocked to learn that the school’s tech curriculum had not changed since his time as a student. Teens in his school still lacked opportunities to make them competitive in the marketplace. He knew it was time to create a program that would allow others in his community and similar ones to compete in the 21st century.
While working in the classroom as a teacher and also working with schools and organizations as an educational technology professional, he noticed an upsetting trend. Young men of color in South Los Angeles were failing classes and dropping out of high school at alarming rates. Through research, he confirmed that 55% of males drop out of school in his community, which translates into high incarceration, unemployment, and death rates for African Americans and Latinos.
By combining his experience in project-based and peer-to-peer learning, lessons from his own mentors, and his life-long love of technology he created a one-of-a-kind curriculum that evolves as trends in education and technology change. Through his unique approach and with a team of coaches and volunteers from different industries, TXT inspires teens to become tech entrepreneurs by learning computer programming, business development, and public speaking as a way to develop into true leaders. Oscar and the Teens Exploring Technology team are all committed to a model that empowers young men of color to become technology leaders and to meet the demand of tomorrow’s job market.