The James Irvine Leadership Award

The James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards recognize and support individuals who are advancing innovative and effective solutions to these significant issues. The Foundation provides each recipient’s organization with a grant of $250,000 to support his or her work benefiting the people of California, and helps recipients share their approaches with policymakers and practitioners. 

Digital NEST is proud to announce that Jacob Martinez, our Executive Director, Founder, and Friend, has been awarded the 2020 James Irvine Leadership Award.

Jacob Martinez
Winner of the 2020 James Irvine Leadership Award

“There are youth in forgotten communities across this state that have the heart, skills, and talent needed to drive California’s future,” says Jacob, “When we invest in them and give them equal access to opportunities, they will fly.” 

Since 2006, Jacob Martinez has been a leader in the fight against social, educational, and economic inequities in the underserved rural communities of Northern California. While serving as an educator providing STEM training for Latinx students, he was deeply troubled by the way these forgotten communities have been historically locked out of the economic opportunities and digital innovation brought by the technology industry to other California communities. Simultaneously, Latinx families are getting pushed out of their neighborhoods as a result of the booming digital economy. Jacob understands the need to build a stronger education-to-work pipeline for the Latinx community and people of color throughout the tech workforce. 

To address this unmet need, Jacob launched Digital NEST (Nurturing Entrepreneurial Skills with Technology). Since 2014, “The NEST” has provided technical- and soft-skills training, career exploration, and paid on-the-job training to more than 2,000 teens and young adults from working-class, mostly immigrant families in Watsonville and Salinas. 

Donate Now, to support Jacob's work to nurture the full potential of our youth

Help us spread the word on social media so we can inspire new audiences to support DigitalNEST’s work to train students in rural California to be the technology leaders of tomorrow. You can share our video found here on social media and with your networks.

At Digital NEST, students can reimagine what’s possible for their futures. As members, they gain free access to computers, software, state-of-the-art equipment, and communal working space. They experience intensive project-based courses in web and software development, project management, robotics, digital arts, and much more. Digital NEST prepares students for the technology workforce, primarily through career development and an innovative on-the-job training program called bizzNEST.

Within the next decade, Digital NEST, under Jacob’s leadership, will have physical locations in 16 regions and will have placed 480 students in local careers, internships, and/or college. Jacob envisions Digital NEST as a twenty-first-century workforce development center that will bring opportunity and prosperity across the state.

“By mid-century, Digital NEST will have eliminated the term “forgotten communities” from the lexicon, and California will be the country’s leading example of how to build a diverse and inclusive workforce, one that ensures that all groups are represented among the leaders and innovators of the future and that all communities are included in the economic prosperity promised by the digital revolution.”

YOU can be a catalyst for economic prosperity throughout our state. GIVE NOW to help the NEST bring new training centers to youth throughout California's rural communities.

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