Founder recognized for success of Digital NEST
Jacob Martinez, the founder and Executive Director of Digital NEST (Nurturing Entrepreneurial Skills with Technology), has been named the 2015 Santa Cruz County Entrepreneur of the Year by the Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce.
Martinez founded the nonprofit Digital NEST in November 2014 to help youth from low-income families connect with technologies and training they need to succeed in today’s high-tech careers. The NEST has grown to serve more than 430 youth, providing them with free technology and internet access, skills training, and mentorship.
“What a fantastic honor,” said Martinez. “Although I am being recognized with this award, the real recognition goes to our remarkable youth, our community of supporters, and the Digital NEST team, working together to make our progress possible. I can’t adequately express how gratifying it is for us to be acknowledged with this honor.”
The goal of Digital NEST is to help shift the economy, locally and nationally, by creating a diverse, trained workforce that will become the entrepreneurs and technology leaders of the future. Martinez added, “Our Digital NEST youth will be able to compete for the most influential, vital, and high-paying jobs in the market.”
Martinez and Digital NEST have been gaining local and national recognition for the organization’s innovative strategies to provide low-income and disadvantaged youth with the same technology access and opportunities that their tech-connected peers take for granted.
Martinez has been to the White House twice this year, once to be recognized with other tech leaders for his work in overcoming technology barriers for underserved youth, and again to speak at the first national Tech Meetup, at the invitation of US. Chief Technology Officer and Presidential Advisor Megan Smith. He has met with Senator Barbara Boxer, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congressman Sam Farr, and State Assemblyman Luis Alejo. He meets regularly with officials on the Watsonville City Council and in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District.
In 2014, Martinez was named by TechCrunch as one of the Top Men in the Country Supporting Women in Technology, and this year he received the Tony Hill Memorial Award at UCSC, which honors individuals for their efforts across diverse communities in developing innovative approaches to solving social problems.
Martinez has presented his work to the National Science Foundation, to technology companies Google and Mozilla, to the Computer Science Collaborative Project, the University of California, and the National Girls Collaborative Project.
Prior to establishing the Digital NEST in 2014, Jacob Martinez spent ten years leading innovative computer-based programs in Pájaro Valley schools and beyond, with a particular focus on encouraging Latina girls to enter high tech fields. Martinez founded the Santa Cruz County Ag-tech Meetup, co-founded the Watsonville Film festival, is a co-founder of Watsonville Forward, and is a Community Advisor for Opportunity Fund.
Martinez received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and his Masters degree in Instructional Science and Technology from California State University at Monterey Bay. He lives in Watsonville with his wife and three children.
About the awards
Each year, the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of the Santa Cruz County individuals, businesses and organizations that reflect excellence in business, governance, public service, and community development. Martinez will receive his award at the 2015 Annual Community Recognition Award Gala at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz on November 13, 2015.