As the year draws to a close, I take a moment to reflect on the significant milestones that have defined Digital NEST (the NEST) over the past 12 months, and share exciting updates. It’s been a year of growth, new experiences and a deepened commitment to our mission.

A major step in 2023 was expanding our team so that we set the stage for making a greater impact in the coming year (2024 will be our 10-year anniversary). I was surrounded by capable individuals who not only supported my decision to take a sabbatical but are now geared up for the challenges ahead in a move that underscores the NEST’s dedication to building a strong and diverse team. We hired a chief administrative officer, a chief development officer, and a director of communications and will be hiring a director of innovation.

For the first time in our history, we sent staff to the Grace Hopper conference to invest in their professional development and showcase our leadership. One of our prouder moments arrived when our president and chief operating officer, Antonia Franco, was honored at the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley with a Sisterhood Award for Leadership, Sisterhood, and Civic Engagement.

Looking ahead, the NEST has ambitious plans for 2024, including the opening of our fifth site in Stockton. As the organization continues to grow, the importance of fundraising continues. The decision to invest in NEST shows a commitment to a future where more individuals have access to opportunities and life-sustaining employment.

Digital NEST Jacob Martinez nonprofit Watsonville California 2023-2024 - Staff Group Photo Antonia O Franco, Deborah Grant, Aliyah Nance

Expanding to five centers with Digital NEST has been an incredible achievement! While we’re not as physically close as I’d hoped, the 2023 annual summit offered us a wonderful opportunity to connect, interact, and share our experiences in serving youth.

Communities look to us to lead in innovation. In the dynamic landscape of technology, we’re uniquely positioned to understand the rapid pace of technological change and how to prepare youth for what’s to come. Conversations about artificial intelligence (AI) are gaining momentum inside our walls. As a result, we’re engaging with other organizations to address the need for AI education. The struggle to find qualified AI staff is a shared concern, highlighting the broader challenge nonprofits face in the tech landscape. In the face of these challenges, we remain committed to our communities, and to equipping youth with the skills for a rapidly changing tech job market.

As we look ahead to our 10-year anniversary, we’re ready to take on whatever challenges the future holds. With a dedicated team, a commitment to diversity, and a vision for a future where everyone has the opportunity to thrive, we have set the stage for a new chapter of growth, advocacy and relentless resolve.


Jacob Martinez,
Founder & CEO, Digital NEST