St. Louis is becoming an increasingly awesome place to be. We’ve experienced 13% growth in the IT sector over the past year and have a median salary for IT employees of 71K. In 17 months over 50 companies have moved into an old office building downtown, creating a veritable “tech city” in an area needing a catalyst. This past year, our “Arch Grants” competition drew hundreds of applications, finally giving $1 Million to 20 companies who agree to move to St. Louis for a year and build their vision.
This is great! But there’s a problem.
Our schools and community organizations aren’t prepared for this renaissance. They’re not teaching the necessary skills for kids to participate as adult creative employees, and they’re not empowering our young people to take the risks necessary to start their own ventures as adults. They’re preparing for end of course exams and boring students out of school.
This is par for the course across the nation, but it stings in my backyard.
This is why, on this very blog, 3 years ago I started a little experiment called “The Disruption Department” (silly name, serious vision) with my co-founder Andrew Goodin. We’re a nonprofit that’s teaching kids how to make, how to hack, how to code, and how to envision a future where they work with others to develop game changing products and services. We’re creating a “Farm System” (think minor league baseball) that’s catalyzing interest in creative technologies in young people, providing them with skill development, team-based startup mentoring, and acces to internships, employment, and eventually capital to start their own businesses.
We feel like a community-based effort like this will create more authentic outcomes for our students, and ensure there are more kids from low-income communities in St. Louis participating in the effort to make St. Louis great once again.
So I ask for your help. Click on this link and give what you can to our little effort. We’re expanding our pilot program of 7 Young Makers to 20, placing them on teams of 4 led by coaches from the startup and university communities. They’ll develop software applications with their teams in an authentic atmosphere, sharing their creations while visiting local businesses that are changing our city’s landscape. Your gift buys them a computer and the internet, something they don’t have at home now. It also pays for their food, transportation, and other administrative costs necessary for the program to take the next step.
As a fellow coop member, I’ve always been astounded by how the world is embracing a new world of learning. You’ve all inspired our trajectory, and infuse us with the reminder that we’re fighting the good fight. So, even if you’re unable to give, thank you.
Send this to as many people as you can, I’d like to show out students that not only St. Louis is supportive of their work, but the entire world is as well.