Jessica Santana & Evin Robinson


Our vision is to become the premiere technology enrichment program for high school students living in New York City. We want to build a community of young people who leverage technology to make a lasting impact in the communities they are from and represent.

Location: New York, New York

Profession: Co-Founders, New York on Tech

Twitter: @NewYorkOnTech

Tell me about your nonprofit and why you started it.

Jessica (J): New York City is the second largest innovation hub next to Silicon Valley and there is no doubt that there are students from low-opportunity backgrounds that are being left out of the innovation economy due to a lack of development, mentoring, networks and access. We prepare and develop the next generation of tech leaders by working with students to equip them with the tools and resources they need to be successful in tech fields. Our students participate in technical instruction via our Saturday programs and are aligned with mentors from leading companies, startups and organizations. We started New York On Tech because we want to encourage low-opportunity students to pursue academic and professional careers in the tech-related fields.

What are you most proud of in creating New York On Tech?

Evin (E): The development of the Tech Flex Leaders. When we first bring them into the program, they are shy and don’t talk much. Over time, you see first-hand their levels of confidence increase and they begin carrying themselves as young adults, posing questions and holding articulate conversations. In the beginning, many students have one perception of technology – coding. However, through our program, they leave with more awareness about various pathways into the industry.

Why NYC – what spoke to you about giving back there?

J: Evin and I were both born and raised in NYC. It was our foundation and it continues to be the place we call home today. Growing up in NYC, you have this strong sense of pride being a New Yorker. We met in college, but our friendship solidified after attending a leadership conference at Ernst & Young (EY), after which we took the train back into Brooklyn together. On the train ride, we shared our interests and desires to give back meaningfully to our hometown once we reached a position to do so.  

E: NYC is a special place, it is filled with diversity and culture. This played a major role in the development of who we are today. Growing up, Jessica and I were both impacted meaningfully by community members who took a genuine interest in our growth and showed us their was more to life then the buildings in our surrounding areas. I grew up with this feeling in my heart, knowing I would one day create something that would allow me and others to pay it forward.     

What were you doing before launching New York On Tech?

E: Jessica and I were both were working in management consulting for Deloitte and Accenture. In these roles, we thought critically about how to optimize the processes behind some of the world’s largest corporation’s through the usage of technology in order to make better customer decisions, roll out new technology initiatives and enhance a corporation’s digital presence. Most importantly, we were exposed to how technology was changing the global economy at every level.  

What were some of the motivations for starting your nonprofit?

J: What motivates me is the opportunity to make sure other’s passions for technology are not delayed. My first introduction to a computer was in middle school. I taught myself HTML, designing standout profile pages for myself and friends. At that time, I did not know I could be a technologist. So similarly, Evin and I majored in business fields in college. Studying business in Hong Kong, we both came to the realization our passions were in technology. As a result, we turned down full-time offers with top firms like Deloitte and JPMorgan Chase, went back to school and studied our passions, ultimately obtaining a Masters in Information Management and Technology.

E: It does not matter what industry you go into today, we are at a point where technology has a direct impact across all industries – whether you’re working in a company and technology serves as support to the main business or technology is the direct product or service. What motivates me is helping other realize the importance of technology and help equip them with the technical knowledge and skills needed to excel academically and professionally. Additionally, Jessica and I both went through non-profits growing up and were able to see nonprofits in grassroots stages and as established platforms of philanthropy. We were fortunate to see both sides and understand the importance of giving back as a result.

What’s your dream for your nonprofit?:

J: Our vision is to become the premiere technology enrichment program for high school students living in New York City. We want to build a community of young people who leverage technology to make a lasting impact in the communities they are from and represent.

E: As New York On Tech grows, we seek to continue working with other motivated professionals. We are expanding our cohort of mentors, advisory council members and recruiting a larger group of New York On Tech  – Tech Flex Leaders for the 2015 – 2016 academic year. This growth will allow us to have greater impact and add value to the NYC technology innovation economy.

This is part one of a week long series, telling the stories of the people behind New York on Tech. Learn more about the organization this Friday at its annual event.



About

Julia Levy, Founder, has a decade of development experience, including working for a philanthropist, a small nonprofit and now a large nonprofit. She has raised significant dollars for numerous causes, from education to religion and from donors of all ages. Julia holds a Certificate in Fundraising from NYU’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University. Julia has taught fundraising workshops, most recently at Brooklyn Brainery and coached development professionals.


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