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America on Tech [AOT]

Bring Digital Skills, Tech Education and Internships to LA Youth

Nonprofit

In 2019, AOT expanded its footprint to LA with a school-based tech program to decrease the economic and racial wealth gap in underestimated communities. With LA2050 Challenge support, AOT will further innovate its LA programming by: Recruiting and training 200 students in computer science and technology Developing partnerships in high need communities: 10 high schools to advance their STEM initiatives 10 companies to engage students in internships and/or career days Implementing virtual tech programs for 150 students amid COVID-19.



Describe the mission of your organization.

AOT is a Black and Latinx-led nonprofit organization on a mission to prepare the next generation of technology leaders in order to decrease the economic and racial wealth gap in underestimated communities and create pathways to degrees and careers in the technology ecosystem.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Technology education and training is a critical component of a young person’s ability to succeed in a 21st century economy. They are the most in-demand skills that a young person needs in order to be competitive for jobs – many of which have yet to be created. Yet, many young people – particularly Black and Latinx low-income youth – are not given the same playing field to engage with technology to be competitive in today’s educational and professional environments. The reality is that Blacks and Latinxs represent less than 18% of the tech industry nationwide. Further, they make up less than 10% of degrees conferred in Computer Science and IT annually. They are ultimately shut out of opportunities for economic advancement. AOT’s programs are structured to ensure that low-income young people of color have the ability to economically succeed and secure a future for themselves in spaces of innovation – whether they decide to enter the workforce or become technology entrepreneurs.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

AOT’s Teacher Professional Development Program (TPD) prepares high school teachers to teach AOT’s Web Development curriculum in their own classrooms. This year-long curriculum covers the fundamentals of front and back-end web development and also embeds sessions on professional development topics that include resume building and interviewing etiquette. Teachers participating in the TPD Program participate in two, week-long professional development training sessions in the fall (August) and spring (January) of each academic year. During these sessions, teachers learn the Web Development curriculum from AOT Program Managers and build out their own portfolio of curriculum-aligned projects that demonstrate mastery of topics including HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, JavaScript and API’s. By the end of each week-long session, participating teachers develop their knowledge of computer science and coding and build their capacity to deliver AOT’s Web Development Curriculum to their own students in their own classrooms. In addition to these week-long sessions, teachers are provided ongoing training, teaching resources, and a network of AOT support to ensure successful implementation of the Web Development curriculum. Students who complete this program the curriculum gain a technical and professional skill set that allows them to tap into the innovation economy, gaining the confidence to pursue degrees and careers in technology. They also become eligible for paid internships.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

300
Direct impact
460
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

AOT’s approach is intersectional and cross-sectorial, as we believe that in order for high quality programming to take place, we need to engage stakeholders overseeing STEM education policy in the local community; work directly with staff at the schools we aim to serve; and engage the technology industry’s resources, knowledge and funding to help train and hire our students. Achieving success means AOT will have a broader impact beyond any one program year – by fostering systemic change that changes the face of tech in LA to increasingly include the presence of low-income youth of color receiving high quality computer science/STEM edu

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

AOT will track programmatic and youth metrics including key performance indicators for student success. To monitor these metrics, evaluation data will be maintained in AOT’s internal data systems. Staff will track GPAs, attendance, assessments, project and internship completion and other information that helps AOT make decisions on how to improve the outcomes of its programs and students. During the LA2050 grant year, AOT anticipates that of the 350 students engaged: 80% will graduate from the program with a portfolio of technical projects. 80% will complete an industry standard assessment scoring 80 or above. Off the 10 schools engaged: 80% will renew their partnership with AOT in the year ahead. 80% will report Agree/Strongly Agree to recommending our program to other schools Of the 10 technology employers engaged: 80% will renew their partnership for another year. 80% will Agree/Strongly Agree to recommending our program to other technology companies.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

In developing our Los Angeles footprint, AOT met with educators to genuinely understand the current landscape and scope of technology education – including the lack of opportunities for young people of color. The above guidance and insight resulted in initial partnerships with Alliance Marine and Innovation Technology High School and STEM Prep Schools. These two schools are our partner schools. Classes at their schools take place twice weekly for 2.5 hours each session at each school by trained instructors over nine months.

Which of the learn metrics will you impact?​

  • Enrollment in afterschool programs
  • High school graduation rates
  • Proficiency in STEM

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to CREATE

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