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Developing the Next Santa Monica Technology Leaders
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP


Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

 

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

July 13, 2016 -- As Santa Monica continues its rise as one of the leading locations for technology startups in the state, a community program is developing the next generation of leaders in the field.

The Youth Tech Program, begun in 2012, features a six-week course in which students learn about the industry and with fellow group members create their own “tech companies.”

The program concludes with a “pitch night” to a group of civic leaders, investors and tech entrepreneurs.

“Not only are we enabling students to learn technology concepts, but startup teams tackle a community issue that’s important to them--whether it’s mental health, how to preserve street art or a hipster's guide to local history,” Santa Monica broadband manager Gary Carter told City Council members Tuesday during a presentation on the program.

Carter said 112 students have gone through the program and more will graduate this month. After the program, they continue to keep in touch with their mentors and some have gone on to internships in the field.

When the first class graduates from college, some of them are expected to get jobs in technology.

“This program helped me develop a passion for something I would have never expected,” said Jamila Haji who was a program participant in 2012 and is now on the staff as the lead program specialist.

She added, “The program completely changed my life -- from setting me on a great path for my education, my career, prepping me for the real-world life experience. I just couldn’t be more happier, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”

City Manager Rick Cole said this is an important program in a city that has earned the nickname “Silicon Beach.”

“There’s a tremendous amount of sophisticated technology talent in our community,” he said. “And developing the next generation of tech talent and making sure the tech industry diversifies and offers people of all backgrounds the opportunity to succeed is really the genesis of our Youth Tech Program.”


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