Nonprofit Spotlight: Teens Exploring Technology turns at-risk boys into tomorrow’s community and technology leaders

Published on Sunday, May 25, 2014 - 22:13
Teens working together

There’s one organization is South Los Angeles that encourages kids to txt — as in joining – Teens eXploring Technology.
Teens Exploring Technology is a leadership program that takes at-risk boys in 7th to 11th grades from South LA and Watts and shows them that they can have a future for themselves. The boys are taught in small groups lessons in HTML5, CSS, Javascript, public speaking, business development, Photoshop, PHP, research skills, project management skills, data analysis and time management. In addition, the boys have to keep up their studies.
The creator of Teens Exploring Technology, 34-year-old Oscar Menjivar, a former IT consultant and a product of the Watts neighborhood, sees technology as the ‘equalizer’ of the 21st Century and also as the means to get young boys on a path of knowing how to collaborate with one another, feeling more self-confident about their skills and studies and knowing that they can go to college.
 
Menjivar and his team operate Teens Exploring Technology on a shoestring budget of $10,000 from grant money. Barely enough for a program that has seen overwhelming response. Boys have to apply to be accepted into the program, and each round of new classes sees double the number of boys for the amount of slots available.
Presently, Menjivar is applying for grants to fund Teens Exploring Technology so they can find a permanent office space with enough computers and software but the competition is stiff for so few grants. In an interview with Mashable, Mejivar says they need $200,000 to keep the program running. If they can’t find the money, there may not be a future for a program that has already impacted so many lives for the better.
The organization boasts a 100 percent college attendance rate of those students who finish high school, with many pursuing degrees in engineering and technology.
We believe that access to technology should be available to everyone, especially low socio-economic communities. Through our curriculum we develop a culture of innovation, collaboration, and strong academics among our young men. Technology is the equalizer in the 21st Century and therefore we are committed to nurturing our future leaders ~ Teens Exploring Technology.