America On Tech (AOT) is part of New Profit’s Economic Mobility Cohort, which aims to provide young people of color across the US with equitable access to opportunities in the technology sector. ART’s goal is to decrease the racial wealth gap by increasing equitable pathways for underestimated students to pursue careers in technology.
According to CEO Jessica Santana, the lack of representation of people of color, particularly Black and Latinx people, in the innovation sector is not due to a lack of talent, but rather a lack of equitable and accessible career pathways.
Improving STEM Opportunities
Socioeconomic disadvantage, coupled with limited access to extracurricular activities and experiences in STEM, means that Black and Latinx students often face educational and career barriers. Digital equity for these youth is a social, racial, and economic justice issue, and until the tech sector becomes more representative of them and their communities, these injustices will continue.
Jessica Santana finds it fulfilling when young people in their program receive job or internship offers through their network and support. Recently, a 21-year-old alum received a job at one of the world’s largest technology companies with a total compensation package of $190K, which is a testament to AOT’s success.
Santana’s co-founder, Evin Robinson, has been her biggest influence in this work, providing support during challenging times and reaffirming that their work and the young people they serve matter.
Self-Care as Resistance
When it comes to mental health, Santana emphasizes the importance of self-care as a form of resistance against the emotional toll of fighting against systems of oppression. Self-care for her means prioritizing her joy, leaning on mentors and peers, actively participating in therapy, journaling every morning, and holding herself accountable for her unlearning process.
It also means ensuring that those around her understand her boundaries and advocating for herself when necessary. Ultimately, self-care is an ongoing process, but it is essential to show up as the best version of oneself every day for the sake of oneself, one’s ancestors, elders, and loved ones.
America On Tech (AOT) addresses racial and economic injustice by providing equitable tech opportunities for underrepresented youth. CEO Jessica Santana stresses that talent exists, but accessible pathways are lacking. Success stories, like a graduate securing a $190K job, highlight AOT’s impact. Co-founder Evin Robinson’s support and prioritizing self-care as resistance contribute to AOT’s meaningful work.