Catapult = Family = Transformation

July 28th, 2016

About a year ago I wrote a blog post entitled “What does Nextech do.” The title seems fairly straightforward; however, the message is not what you might assume. My goal was not to educate readers on Nextech’s vision or the programs we deliver; those are things you can learn by reading our website or listening to a presentation. My real intention was to help readers understand that our activities are only a means to an end to what we really do; in and of themselves they don’t tell the full story. Here is a brief excerpt from that piece:

What I really want to say is Nextech creates opportunity. We inspire. We motivate. We create safe places for young people to unlock their hidden genius. We motivate a community of learners to push their comfort level and tackle new challenges they never conceived surmountable. We inspire students to believe they have the power to make a meaningful difference. To the institutional funders and those that evaluate philanthropic efforts based only on those things that can be measured, I will continue to say that we connect educators, innovative nonprofits and tech enthusiasts to deliver best-in-class programs to increase the number of high school graduates who choose a career in technology. To everyone else, I’ll say Nextech is changing lives. We’re just using coding as the platform.

I never published the blog because I didn’t think Nextech had earned the right to make such broad proclamations. I am still not convinced we have completely earned that right; however, after having a front row seat to the Catapult program this summer, I feel confident we are starting to deliver on the promises stated above.

We honored our commitment and connected 16 area high school students to educators (Eleven Fifty Academy), innovative nonprofits (TechPoint) and tech enthusiasts (the entire High Alpha team, Max Yoder from Lesson.ly, Salesforce, Rook Security…the list goes on). But boy, we did so much more; actually, the kids did so much more. I’ve spent the last 30 minutes trying to come up with the words to describe what transpired this summer and for all my love of words, I am stumped. The best I can gather is that by the end of the six weeks, the Catapults were a family.

I don’t expect you to just take my word so I will offer some proof. This video does a great job of capturing the kids’ personalities; this Facebook album adds another layer. In case you need just a bit more convincing, here is what the experience meant to some of the Catapults, in their own words.

My biggest takeaway from this whole experience thus far is if something doesn’t go the way you want it to, don’t give up. Keep trying to fix it, and I promise something will definitely happen.

Nextech has had a great impact on my life, even this early in a young career, and everyone else in my life can see that…This has truly set me on the right path, and I am so happy that I am given this opportunity to pursue this.

Through Catapult, I learned how to look at a problem in a different way and see something deeper. I am more imaginative, creative and more aware of people and ideas around me.

Catapult is amazing; I can’t imagine where I would be without this program. I loved it! I also learned how to believe in myself. When times got hard, they taught me to believe in myself and just take a deep breath because I could do it.

I wouldn’t change anything about this program, for it to be it’s first go, it’s pretty amazing. I loved waking up every morning of my summer to come here and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I feel like these last two weeks has brought everyone together, and we’ve really been able to be closer and become a family. In a way that if someone needs help then they can definitely give someone a call and we’re there for them.

What do you think? Is Nextech on its way to making a real difference in some lives?

– Karen Jung, Nextech President

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