create / 2014
Sabio & Crossroads working together to incubate diverse tech talent in Los Angeles.
Please describe yourself.
Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)
In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.
We are going to train South LA Latino and African American young adults to become exceptional creators using web technology and film.
Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?
- South LA
What is your idea/project in more detail?
The Creative Tech Training program was specifically designed to serve African American Latino and young adults, ages 18 – 35, both male and female, that have either dropped out of high school, and or have a non-violent criminal record, with the objective of creating transformational creative-tech creators that will have the power to not only tell amazing stories via film, but will also have the technical chops to put that transformative content online, accessible to millions of other young and impressionable South LA youth, teens and adults, who are looking for narratives that empower and reframe their realities.
What will you do to implement this idea/project?
If the LA2050 Challenge Grant were to be awarded to The Sabio Crossroads Creative Tech Training Program (Creative Tech) it would be implemented via a three phased approach: 1) intake; 2) intensive tech training; 3) case management & follow-up. The intake phase would take place the first three months of the program, where by Crossroads would the first market the Creative Tech programming to its current list of over 200 clients. They will be given information about the program and be given pre-work. Then an interview committee will interview individuals that have completed the pre-work and that attended one of the information sessions. Ten individuals will be selected to move on to the final phase of the intake phase, the hands-on pre-screen. The second phase of the program will be the intensive accelerated learning program, with the goal of creating innovative tech creators that represent the rich cultural fabric of Los Angeles. We will utilize an immersive and intensive learning environment to create a workforce that sets the standard for entry-level tech-media technologists. In addition, the training program will simultaneously serve to cure the current imbalance in the existing technology workforce, which suffers from a largely homogeneous make up. This tech training can be completed in 12 weeks, where the cohort will meet from 8am until 6pm, Monday – Friday, with a seasoned, senior-level software architect acting as their trainer and mentor. The training will be project based, and centered on the delivery of a new media software product. The lead instructor has a proven track record of already running these types of intensive training program for the past 12 months, with a 100% job placement rate. This model of intensive training has also been successfully implemented in various parts of the country, such as San Francisco and New York City. Because the Creative Tech cohort will be constituted with individuals from communities plagued with violence, and may have been previously incarcerated, to ensure they receive the emotional and social support required to fully re-entry the workforce, and community at large, the fellows will be required to have weekly meetings with their case managers throughout the 12 weeks of tech training.
How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?
The Sabio Crossroads Creative Tech Cohort will make Los Angeles the best place to create 12 months following our LA2050 Challenge Grant because it will produce exceptionally well trained web creators, that are also ethnically diverse, which match the cultural fabric of the City. Once this Creative Tech program is launched, lessons will be learned, the Fellows will be out in the workforce collaborating with various media professionals, and contributing to the growing knowledge base of the program, and the program will be scaled to serve hundreds of other diverse Fellows throughout the City.
Los Angeles is an exceptionally diverse community, with individuals from the entire world making this their home. The largest cultural group is Latino at 58%, followed by 42% Non-Hispanic Whites, approximately 11% Asian, and approximately 10% African American.
Los Angeles is also undeniably the Creative Capital of the world, with many exceptional large studios situated in Los Angeles County. In addition to the large formal media complex currently operating throughout the LA region, there is also a thriving independent film and creative arts community that is also creating opportunities for various type of entrepreneurial creators.
Whom will your project benefit?
Three separate groups will benefit as a result of the LA2050 Grant Challenge Grant: 1) Six Latino and African American Creative Tech Fellows (clients of Crossroads), 2) Sabio, and 3) SoCalCrossroads,.
Six Crossroads Clients, 50% Latino and 50% African American young adults, ages 18-35, both male and female, will be selected to become Creative Tech Fellows. Each of the Fellows will receive a laptop to train months three – six, also, they will benefit from the 12 week intensive tech training, as well as the case management and the follow-on six-week professional development training offered by Sabio and Crossroads. The six Latino and African American individuals will most likely be members of the low-income community, with low-job prospects in the tech sector. Although Crossroads currently has funding resources to help their clients secure some vocational training, they do not have sufficient funding to provide technical training; therefore, but for the LA2050 Challenge Grant. Once these six individuals complete the program, they will have skills that are in high demand, not only in the creative capital of the world, but basically in any major metropolitan area. Enabling them to become transformative story-tellers and possibly tech entrepreneurs, if they so desire. Once they have the web development skills, the trajectory of their lives will be completely changed as a result of this program.
Sabio is a developer training program born out of necessity, desire and hope. The necessity of bringing more women and minorities into the world of technology. A desire to see a diverse workforce that’s vibrant and innovative. And a hope to uplift the communities that suffer from the highest rates of unemployment and worst educational resources to a higher socioeconomic status through technology training. There is an opportunity for a better life waiting for various diverse creators in Los Angeles. An opportunity to acquire a skill set that that hiring managers and entrepreneurs are anxious to find. A chance to earn your way into a career that enjoys an unemployment rate half that of the national average. Crossroads is a non-profit 501c(3) organization that was created to assist under privileged individuals who come from low-income families in violence plagued communities. Their objective is to lead them to a Healthy, Peaceful and Productive lifestyle through prevention, intervention & re-entry services.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
Both Crossroads and Sabio are organizations that are deeply rooted in the local Los Angeles community, and have cultivated a number of key-strategic partnership throughout their tenure, and are eager to collaborate with other organizations also looking to make a positive impact on the lives of young adults.
For example, Crossroads was born out of a collaboration with St. Francis Medical Center, and their’ focus is on addressing youth and gang violence. The St. Francis Medial Center has been an instrumental partner since their inception, providing facilities, volunteers, and financial support throughout the years.
Similarly, Sabio is also a local Los Angeles organization that has benefited from various joint ventures with various organizations. For example, HubLA was one of their first collaborators, allowing Sabio to use space at a reduced rate, and also providing marketing capacity. Sabio has collaborated with other area nonprofits such as DIY Girls to host Learn To Code workshops, and local college alumni associations to do tech training.
Both organizations believe in the power of collaboration and understand that relationships and partnerships foster positive results and outcomes. That same approach and philosophy will be employed, and will be central, in the Creative Tech Cohort:
Sabio and Crossroads have developed relationships with the following organizations, and are ready to collaborate with them to bring additional capacity to the Creative Tech Cohort: MasWired – a Latino online media platform features tech creators and innovators. This online platform needs web interns to help build and modify its online content. Disney – has agreed to review resumes and to provide interviews to individuals with full-stack web development expertise. WalMart – Bentonville, AK – various opportunities are available for individuals that have full-stack web development expertise. They have reached-out and are interested in reviewing Sabio Fellow’s resumes to identify potential candidates to be interviewed. TechWorkers – San Ramon, CA- front-end web development opportunities
How will your project impact the LA2050 “Create” metrics?
- Employment in creative industries
- Jobs per capita
- Minority- and women-owned firms
- Number of high-growth startups
- Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”) (Dream Metric)
- Unemployment rates (and opportunities) for the formerly incarcerated (Dream Metric)
Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.
By training Latino and African American young adults from South Los Angeles to become tech creators, we are going to increase the number of diverse candidates in the creative industries. Also, the individuals are are going to train may haven a criminal record, and once we provide them with in-demand skills, the likelyhood that they will re-offend is exceptionally low.
Sabio will train unemployed, underemployed and underrepresented individuals from LA, via an intensive accelerated learning program, to enter the technology sector so that they can participate in today’s high-tech economy. We will utilize an immersive boot camp environment to create a workforce that sets the standard for entry level technologists. Sabio’s training program will simultaneously serve to cure the current imbalance in the existing technology workforce, which suffers from a largely homogeneous make up. This training can be completed in as little as 3 months. Other areas of the country are having great success in producing employable talent in this same time. With Sabio, LA can have a program of its own. Just 7 years from now there will be 1 Million technology jobs that will go unfilled because we do not have a properly trained workforce. This represents $500 Billion in wages that Sabio will bring to LA by training Los Angelinos to fill these jobs. The Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s “Local Jobs Multiplier” indicates that for every 1 high-tech job created 4.3 other jobs are created. Therefore, developing and strengthening the area’s high-tech sector will have a significant impact in the local economy by promoting overall growth. However, we do not have to wait 7 years to start taking advantage of the lucrative salaries in the high-tech sector. In fact, we do not even have wait the years it takes colleges and universities to produce this talent. Sabio graduates can fill the many currently available positions. Sabio’s training staff will be seasoned professionals currently exercising their programming skills. More specifically, they will also have a proven history of successfully mentoring entry level programmers. Our training will be conducted in a format that is best described as a “bootcamp.” This format will approximate the intensive nature of a startup and prepare our trainees for the most rigorous environments. Our official training hours will be conducted 5 days a week and over the course of three to four months.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project.
The nature of our project lends itself to a set of simple success metrics. 1) The number of trainees completing our training program: This number will tell us how well our selection and screening process is progressing. 2) The number of trainees receiving offers of employment from companies in the tech industry: This number will reflect the quality of our training. 3) The ability of our trainees to retain employment in the tech industry: This will reflect the quality of our training as well as our post-graduation mentorship. We are expecting to graduate approximately 90% of the people accepted into the program with 80% of original trainees receiving offers of employment. At a more detailed and micro level we will: 1) Gather feedback from our trainees at least every week 2) Gauge trainee performance at project milestones to ensure they are actually learning the subject material
What two lessons have informed your solution or project?
Lesson #1 – Sabio has successfully proven its thesis: Anyone, from any background, given the correct resources, guidance, and time, can learn to become a fantastic full-time, entry-level web programmer that will be hired by a company at a competitive salary. Although technical bootcamps have been around for about five years, an overwhelming majority of them required that individuals have working knowledge of code, and or have some prior tech work experience before they could apply and become a bootcamp program participant. The Sabio Founders, Gregorio Rojas and Liliana Monge, theorized that no such prior technical education and experience was in fact needed to become a successful web developer. The reason why the Sabio Founders did not want to make a tech requirement a part of their LA-based program was because they understood that very few low-income Latinos and African Americans would have such qualifications; therefore, they would not be able to properly train a representative sample of Angelenos. Instead of requiring tech experience, they devised an intake process that allowed them to identify individuals that were highly motivated and determined to become entry-level web programmers. And their thesis was correct. In the fall of 2013 Sabio did in fact identify individuals that were smart, driven, highly motivated, and dedicated. They took those individuals and empowered them with 500 hours of the most up-to-date tech resources, exposed them to industry professionals, competed in a HackforLA Hackathon, prepared them for job interviews, and by the Spring of 2014, all were employed as full-stack web developers in fantastic companies throughout the Los Angeles region.
Lesson #2 – The Founders of Crossroads set out to assist South LA youth via two different avenues. First, by preventing youth from getting involved in any form of criminal behavior or violent activities. Secondly, by providing intervention and re-entry services to young adults who have found themselves caught in the vicious cycle of criminal and or gang lifestyles. Crossroads has demonstrated that providing individuals with positive avenues for transformation and growth will enable individuals to move-away from a life of violence. From their extensive work in the South LA community, and with a staff fully dedicated to this vulnerable population, they have leanred that lives can be transformed, and that the cycle of violence can end.
Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.
The Sabio Crossroads leadership is exceptionally certain it can implement the Creative Tech Training Program within twelve months of receiving an award, because it already has the infrastructure needed to implement the proposed three phased program: 1) intake; 2) intensive tech training; 3) case management & follow-up.
The Sabio team has already run three separate intensive training programs, and has a well-designed training program that will be used to train these individuals. All the curriculum is in place, all the lesson plans, all the test and interview questions have already been worked-out. In addition, it has a long list of collaborators, and strong community and industry support to help implement the plan.
Similarly, the Crossroads organization is also a well-established nonprofit group with a proven track record of assisting this South LA population for the last ten years. They have professional staff members that are well trained, and exceptionally competent, and are experienced Case Managers. In addition, the Crossroads organization has a strong, highly-involved board of directors that provide support and guidance. As stated earlier, Tthe intake phase would take place the first three months of the program, a hands-on pre-screen will take place during the third month, where the ten individuals selected by the interview committee will be required to attend four Saturday hands-on training sessions. The second phase of the program will be the intensive accelerated learning program that takes 12 weeks. The cohort will meet from 8am until 6pm, Monday – Friday, with a seasoned, senior-level software architect acting as their trainer and mentor. The training will be project based, and centered on the delivery of a new media software product. The lead instructor has a proven track record of already running these types of intensive training program for the past 12 months, with a 100% job placement rate. This model of intensive training has also been successfully implemented in various parts of the country, such as San Francisco and New York City. Because the Creative Tech cohort will be constituted with individuals from communities plagued with violence, and may have been previously incarcerated, to ensure they receive the emotional and social support required to fully re-entry the workforce, and community at large, the fellows will be required to have weekly meetings with their case managers throughout the 12 weeks of tech training.
Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?
Sabio has learned that the selection process can prove to be challenging. Our current educational system, and overall popular culture, has not fully embraced the notion that everyone, and anyone, can become a tech creator. Everyone has a Facebook and or Instagram account, but few understand what HTML is and or does, and how it is what allows billions of us to connect online, via our mobile devices, and or desktop computers. Therefore, we anticipate there might be some reluctance on the part of the Crossroads clients to want to sign-up for this type of training. However, we are going to work hard to inform individuals about the great job prospects in the tech and creative sectors so that we may get many qualified and motivated candidates.
Furthermore, it is exceptionally challenging to work with a population that has a criminal record, since some employer might not be willing to hire. However, we are planning on working with local pro-bono lawyers that are willing to help us get our fellow’s non-violent criminal records expunged. The staff at Crossroads has ample experience working with these type of non-violent offenders and are wiling to work hard to get these individuals another chance to work in the tech and or creative sector.
We will meet both challenges by preparing for them, anticipating them, and working hard as a team to address them early on. For example we are planning on hosting three open houses, information sessions that will give potential fellows ample opportunity to learn about our program and how it is an option for them. This is going to help us spread the word about code and how it is an option for anyone that is dedicated and willing to work hard. It is also a lucrative field and one that allow you to become a tech creator, not just a tech consumer.
What resources does your project need?
- Network/relationship support
- Money (financial capital)
- Volunteers/staff (human capital)
- Publicity/awareness (social capital)
- Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
- Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
- Community outreach