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  • Trevor Lakey

    Great to see the work of this project and the opportunities it is opening up for ubran youth - also good to see a growing awareness that tackling digital exclusion is one aspect of inequality that needs to be addressed

  • Rosalie Murphy

    Donated! Good luck, Oscar and Juan. To readers, I've worked personally with UrbanTXT grads on Intersections: South LA (, and they are absolutely incredible kids. Support this program with whatever you can!

  • Lee & Low Books

    This is such a great project. The digital divide is not something people often think about as one of the barriers to escaping poverty, but it is a divide that is increasingly important and difficult to bridge (and, due to recent cuts in libraries, it's growing ever harder for low-income students to have early access to computers and develop digital literacy early). Thank you for sharing!

  • Kunal Bhat

    To echo many on here, I very much appreciate the intentions of this program, but I completely agree with a number of commenters. What is the reason for keeping this gender exclusive?

    Just because of the shocking statistics cited below by Oscar regarding drop out rates and delinquency? There are myriad factors equally affecting young women and girls, especially in the at-risk youth population. (For every 1,000 teenage girls in South L.A., there are about 58 teen births.[1], and how about domestic abuse and violence[2])

    There are problems that affect any segment of the population, and if we continue to tell young women and girls that there are opportunities of which they cannot be part of, we continue to send a dangerous message that supports the artificial divide our society has created between genders. Even the title of this article completely generalizes the term "youth", when it is exclusive to young men and boys.


    • Liz Dwyer

      There are so many issues challenges for low income youth of color in South Los Angeles--and so many other areas of the United States--due to the overall structural inequality in our system. But, it's totally up to individuals to decide how they want to tackle the various ways this inequality manifests itself. There is clearly such a need for programs for low income boys of color--having worked in South LA, I know first-hand that the skills, leadership, and mentorship that Oscar and Juan are providing are much needed for young men trying to find their way in the world. That doesn't mean it's not needed for girls, too--we all know that our girls need these things so much because of how racism and gender inequality intersect. But providing opportunities for boys doesn't mean Juan and Oscar don't believe these opportunities need to be provided for girls, too. In fact, it's great that they hope to expand UrbanTxT to girls as well--they need our support in order for this to happen. And, other organizations specifically working to reach girls, such as Black Girls Code, have launched in the past year and we absolutely have to support them, too.

  • Time4Change

    This is awesome!!! Scheduled to share on :)

  • Marisa Schweikert

    I want to applaud all the women and men that posted replies stating that young women and girls shld be included or have separate but equal programs like Urbantxt. Girls are hugely underrepresented in the tech industry regardless of race or socio economic status. When Juan states that Urbantxt addresses the issues of South Central LA & that boys drop out of middle& high school & underperform more than girls I feel this is more an example of the squeaky wheel gets the oil. Girls may drop out or not but instead of joining gangs, committing crimes, & becoming incarcerated they get pregnant go on welfare or work min wage dead end jobs at McDonald's or Wal Mart. To me it's more important to help girls b/c ur not only lifting them out of poverty but their children as well. So by helping girls u affect future generations not only this one. Also it's a known fact that the single most important factor in determining whether a child will be successful (financial, education wise) in adulthood is if his/her MOTHER not father graduated college.

  • akil harris

    This is a great idea I wish it was in NYC so I could donate some time/instruction instead of just money.

  • Oscar Menjivar

    Hi Everyone,

    Thank you for all your questions.

    The issue we are addressing in a creative way is the drop out rates of young men of color. We are inspiring these young men to complete high school, go on to and graduate from college.We happen to use technology and entrepreneurship as tools to engage them and inspire them to fulfill their potential.

    Based on the research and our first hand experience, those that are in jail, high school dropouts, and in gangs are overwhelming men. Our young men of color will not be able to compete for jobs as they often take the wrong path. Thus far, we have had great success. Instead of poor kids being unemployed and possibly ending in jail, we are sending them to top tier universities like Stanford to become engineers.

    Did you know that 23 in 100 young black men are in jail? Boys in the inner city are not reaching their full potential. We need help addressing the drop out rates of poor Latino and Black youth. I grew up in the inner city and out of my 10 close male friends in high school, only two boys went on to college. Some tried to complete college but dropped out. Others are in jail and many are still fighting to survive the street life. One of my closest friends, a kid with great intellectual talent, took the wrong path & has been in jail since he was 15. He is now 30 years old. He will be in jail for the rest of his life. I have pledged to give my new young friends in the inner city a path to a better future. However, I need your help.

    Right now, our priority is to strengthen and expand our model to address the current crisis among black and latino male youth. But certainly our model can one day be used with individuals from any social economic background, any race, and any gender. We are at a very critical point and you can help ensure that our model gets stronger to serve more kids. Every dollar counts to save a life and keep our doors open.

    Thank you for all your support.

    Oscar Menjivar
    -Founder of URBAN TxT .

    here is a great report from NPR about the drop out rates. .

    • Liz Dwyer

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your story, Oscar. Knowing that this is so personal for you, and that you're choosing to make a difference for your community in this way is incredible. Keep on keepin' on.

  • akil harris

    Damn I wish this was happening in NYC also...I'd love to donate some time in addition to some money.

  • Manasa Yeturu

    Absolutely love the fact that the young men are building products that solve a community problem! Talk about sparking impact and potential! Thank you for sharing - this is an incredible inspiring project.

  • Linda Keane

    Thanks for sharing. It is a great project! I deliver STEAM by Design workshops to After School Matters Instructors in Chicago introducing the eLearning Resource, introduces art and science through design of the built world. is being used in Detroit Public Schools, all 50 states and in over 100 countries. It introduces integrated project based learning that works to incorporate both digital fluency and eco literacy in young imaginations while connecting them to careers. We are a student resource for The ACE Mentor Program, A White House awarded STEM program that works with at risk students preparing them for construction, engineering, architecture and design careers. We presented last month at the GLOBAL STEMx Conference and on the EU's Internet of Things for Children. We should connect and see if our curriculum would assist your program.

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    Fantastic project! Thank you for addressing a need and leaping forward. Best wishes as you expand. Your results so far are simply Stellar! All those you've already inspired and encouraged will do the same for countess others creating an amazing ripple effect~

  • George Alberto Ramirez

    @dianemorrow agreed! diversity should be the goal. across ethnicities, social classes and gender.

  • George Alberto Ramirez

    love this! such a great idea. there is a definite need to increase diversity in the ranks of tech leaders and our design community. this can help.

  • dglaze

    This is awesome and I have total respect for what you're doing with this program. However, I feel that you are missing out on a huge opportunity by creating a boys only (and a separate girls only, as you mention here in comments) program. In addition to teaching these kids technical skills and developing their self esteem, you have a great opportunity to also instill respect for women (and men) by leveling the gender gap that is still very real in technology. Please consider a mixed program that also teaches kids of both genders to learn to work together and respect one another.

  • dianamorrow

    This program looks really GREAT. But let's not forget—tech isn't just for boys. Involve young women too! There wasn't a single female interviewee in this video, and the classroom shots appeared to be 90% boys. Technology should be made equally accessible for ALL students!

    • Juan Vasquez

      Hi Diana, we only accept boys between 7th and 11th grade to our coding academies. We are with you that we need more women in tech - it's a national need. However, URBAN TxT was started to address the issues in South Los Angeles, a top one being the frustrating underperformance of our young men of color. Girls-only chapters are in our future though. You can learn more about us at Thanks for the support and please let us know if you have any questions!

  • Briana Myricks

    I would love to help out with girls doing the same thing. I know there's a few academies or organizations out there. Great plan!

    • Liz Dwyer

      I know Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, and Girls in Tech are all focused on this--and it's much needed. I really admire the folks behind those organizations, and Juan and Oscar from URBAN TxT because they saw a need and then stepped up to address it. We need more of that in our world!

      • Briana Myricks

        Thanks Juan! Going to email him right away!

    • Juan Vasquez

      Hi Jeffry, there are many ways to help us grow our impact and work. Please shoot me and Oscar a line at and and we'll send you additional details. We can open up the discussion! Thanks for the support.

    • Juan Vasquez

      Hi Dorothy, very good question. Before anything else we (URBAN TxT) exist to address root problems in South LA. One of the main root problems for many other symptoms in South LA is that boys leaving middle school and starting high school tend to stray and underperform more than girls. With limited resources we are only able to tackle certain issues at a time, so for now we are working on getting more young men of color to graduate high school and go on to top 4-year universities. Girls chapters are in our future and we support the work of many girl-only programs.

    • peaceforall301147

      That's exactly what I was thinking. They should definitely expand the program to include girls.

      • Juan Vasquez

        It's in the work and part of our long-term goals.

  • Eddie Edwards

    Yay, love this idea. But why only men?

    • Juan Vasquez

      Hi Eddie, very good question. Before anything else we (URBAN TxT) exist to address root problems in South LA. One of the main root problems for many other symptoms in South LA is that boys leaving middle school and starting high school tend to stray and underperform more than girls. With limited resources we are only able to tackle certain issues at a time, so for now we are working on getting more young men of color to graduate high school and go on to top 4-year universities. Girls chapters are in our future and we support the work of many girl-only programs.

    • ania!

      FIRST thought that came to my head. I am seeing more and more programs aimed toward male youth.

      I think this is especially important when it comes to STEM education. Hopefully, this program will succeed and expand to include ALL interested youth!

      • Juan Vasquez

        Hi Ania, there are actually about as many female-only programs as there are male-only ones. Ultimately the average teen boy and average teen girl will be motivated in different ways and by different factors, and with our limited resources we decided to tackle the population that underperforms most in our community. Our vision is BIG and it for sure includes all interested youth! You can learn more at!

        • Liz Dwyer

          Such a good point, Juan. We can take different approaches to different demographic groups--we often forget that equality is the goal but that does not mean we use the same tactics to get there.

        • ania!

          Perhaps what I'm seeing is just a local trend in my community. Regardless, I applaud what you are doing and wish you and the kids TONS of success!!!

    • Georgina Klanica

      Ditto. Women are very underrepresented in the field. For many of these girls, their future is teenage motherhood.