As you might imagine, running an organization that aims to be innovative and disruptive takes a great deal of time, energy, and persistence. Since completing our two pilot programs, we have learned a tremendous amount about what are organization is, and how to make it better than we initially hoped for.
The 21st Century Youth Project is a free afterschool program where we teach high school students to create mobile apps. Inspired by the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, the purpose of the project is to arm the students with transferable skills they can use for the rest of their careers. In addition to teaching them how to create mobile apps, we’re teaching them about entrepreneurship, how to create a business plan, free SAT instruction, and mentor them with entrepreneurs from all over the country, including Silicon Valley. You can read more about the program here or go to our website.
Running a pilot program is essentially a “trial and error”experience. We ran the program independently at two school districts which were different socioeconomically and culturally. We learned a great deal about the true value of the program, which are slightly different than our initial goals. There were some great outcomes, but as with any entrepreneurial initiative, sometimes your user base determines your value, and you have to pivot to best capture the value that has been created. With that being said, we’re excited about the new iteration of the program, and how to stay interesting, cool, and relevant for students.
We are in the process of a significant grass roots campaign that will accomplish several objectives
- Purchase several netbooks/laptops so that many of our students will have access and the computer horsepower to participate, which is especially important in some of the demographics we service
- Pay our instructors fairly for their persistence and time they commit
- Branding so that many more students can hear about the opportunities available in our program