Helping kids from poor neighborhoods understand the world of tech

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

This is a great project:

Maurice doesn’t mind being different, and says he’s never cared about what people think. He tells a story about how he once cut off his eyebrows to see if he could withstand the inevitable ridicule he would face–a bold stand for any teenager to take. Maurice credits his parents for passing along these admirable qualities; his mother, who passed away earlier this year, was a strong role model for him, and he says she was never afraid of what anyone said about her. Both she and his father were known for standing up for their beliefs, and they gained the respect of others in their community for not being afraid to speak their mind.

Maurice’s story resonated with me, and I became determined to help him – and the broader Brownsville community – by providing the type of exposure to NYC Tech that might help him and other teens see vast array of opportunities that exist beyond the Brownsville border. Exposure is key here; these kids won’t be able to think outside of the box until they know what else there is to shoot for. NYC Tech is not for the have and the have nots. It’s for inspired and passionate individuals who want to drive change, and our community could be missing out on some great talent if we limit those opportunities to those with the means to seek them out for themselves.

So we offered Maurice a job. He’ll be working with us for the next month, before he starts his senior year of high school, and his main task is to learn. He’ll be shadowing our team and learning about how startups work, the world of venture capital, and various job paths. Hopefully he’ll also gain a deeper understanding of the tech industry that will be valuable for him as he continues to think of his future.

But Maurice’s takeaways from this opportunity will focus on a more tangible and imminent goal: He’s going to help us develop the Brownsville Tech Project, a summer internship for Brownsville High School teens that will help them land internships at NYC-based startups. The program will specifically address the issue of exposure by giving Brownsville youth the opportunity to work at participating NYC Tech startups, and give them a feel for the jobs and professions that are available to them.

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