By Jesus Vargas
Jesus Vargas is a student at LAUSD USC MaST High School in South LA and a graduate of the URBAN TxT program.
Let’s be honest, South Los Angeles does not have the same reputation that West Los Angeles has. Just like the Middle East isn’t known for its natural resources but for its war and violence. Violence, drugs, and gangs are just a few things that come to mind when thinking of South Los Angeles. But there is a group in South Los Angeles that is daring to be different and rising against the stereotypes. This group goes by the name of URBAN TxT.
URBAN TxT was created by Oscar Menjivar as an attempt to cultivate young leaders and entrepreneurs in the South Los Angeles area. Menjivar has made URBAN TxT successful by only recruiting “the best of the best,” as he says it himself. He gives these teens a simple task, which is to create a website that helps the community and that can potentially become a business. They then learn about the different aspects of creating a website and decide which roles they want to take on. One can be anything from a developer to a designer.
Menjivar brings back previous URBAN TxT alumni to volunteer at URBAN TxT — alumni that now attend some of the most prestigious schools in the nation such as USC and Stanford. So it’s simple: URBAN TxT gives teens knowledge and a few year later they bring it back. This is an ongoing cycle that is slowly developing a community of its own.
Lately Menjivar has shown this group of young men that hard work truly pays off. He has brought in some truly successful people to visit URBAN TxT. Nancy Vega, creator of PLAY BANK, and Emmanuel Pleitez, Chief Strategy Officer of SPOKEO who is running for Mayor of Los Angeles, compose this list of successful people. Menjivar has worked hard to bring them in and inspire these teens. Both speakers have shared their stories which are very similar to those of the boys in URBAN TxT right now; humbling to say the least. And a few weeks ago the work of the entire URBAN TxT community paid off when they were featured in INC.com as a tech camp aiming to cultivate teen entrepreneurs along with other programs in the nation. The only difference is that URBAN TxT was the only program from the western part of the nation. Accomplishments like this are slowly gaining URBAN TxT more recognition in both the worlds of technology and youth programs.
By engaging children in technology, the URBAN TxT staff have managed to change the lives of many local teens. Teenagers here now aspire to make a difference in their communities and live above the influence. That’s not any easy task when you’re surrounded by some of the most infamous streets in the United States. But let’s not forget the jewel of South Los Angeles: USC. Which is where URBAN TxT operates from. To be the best, you need to surround yourself by the best.