It comes as no surprise that experts say there are not enough opportunities for urban boys and young men to keep them interested in school and academics. That’s not unique to males, of course, but the whole downward spiral that sweeps so many up and onto a criminal track can, it seems logical, be interrupted by a passion for learning and training in new skills. Passion is the operative word. In South Central Los Angeles and the Watts district, some of the most under-invested communities in our country, URBAN TxT is making a difference. The name stands for “URBAN Teens Xploring Technology” and they provide after-school programs in tech for young men.
More than just computer skills and renewed focus on academics, URBAN TxT teaches life skills, leadership, commitment to community, and how to positively impact those around them. The track record in just a couple of years is beyond impressive: “70% of the students in the program go on to computer engineering degrees. 100% of the students graduate high school and 90% go on to a four-year university. Program has a 100% retention rate. 60% students have made an upswing in academic performance while top performers maintain high grades. 25% of program alumni come back during the summer to mentor and serve as project manager of the teens.” And this isn’t a mere keep-the-kids-off-the-streets babysitting program. The skills these young men learn and master are directly marketable in the workforce. Website development, media, blogging, political exploration, engineering, design…it puts them head and shoulders above so many after they graduate.
It’s a great program, making hugs strides, and a model for teens transforming their relationship to inner cities and discovering a life empowered for success.