Real Office Centers’ community is full of young coders fresh out of college, but the talent was even fresher on July 22, when ROC’s Santa Monica location hosted the 2016 Pitch Night for Santa Monica Youth Tech.
Since its start in 2012, Santa Monica Youth Tech has introduced about 80 high school students the ins and outs of the technology industry through its intensive, six-week summer program. In those six weeks, students learn the coding and business skills necessary to build a startup that does good for the Santa Monica community and beyond.
While there is an involved admissions process, no previous coding or technology experience or knowledge is required to enroll in the program.
Students break up into smaller groups when designing and planning their startups, and this summer’s class included five different teams: Frame Finds, Domo Chef, Lyrnics, InfarmMe, and Merit Hero.
Lyrnics is a program that translates study notes into songs by young up-and-coming artists, while Frame Finds helps young photographers find and share visually compelling backdrops for photo shoots in Southern California. InfarmMe is an online reservation system for local Farmers’ Markets.
Santa Monica Youth Tech has 35 students this summer, a big increase over its starting class of 13. Since its launch, the program has made large strides in closing the gender gap for young women in tech, bringing this year’s female participation to 47.5 percent.
In fact, the winners of this year’s pitch contest at ROC was Frame Finds, an all-female group — a first for Santa Monica Youth Tech.
“I really enjoyed my experience,” says incoming high school senior Ariana Torres-Malaga about her time in the program. “It has taught me how to grow as a human being and how to work in companies.”
While the pitch contest served as an exciting finish, it was hardly the only high point of the six week program. Students involved in Santa Monica Youth Tech this summer had the opportunity to visit with civic leaders at Santa Monica City Hall, community police officers, and leaders from top tech companies and UCLA. They also embarked on a field trip to Lionsgate Entertainment, where they learned about the company’s intersections of business and technology.
Santa Monica Youth Tech is sponsored by several big names in the local and national tech and business scene, including Hulu, Lionsgate Entertainment, and UCLA Anderson School of Management. Real Office Centers, home to many of Southern California’s leading startups, is also a proud sponsor.
While this summer’s program has reached an end, this is likely just the beginning of a career in tech for these students — in fact, Santa Monica Youth Tech currently boasts a 100 percent internship placement rate for graduated students.
And at some point not too far away, you just might see these young people roaming the halls of a ROC office — this time, not as students, but as entrepreneurs.