Jacob Martinez: How Digital NEST Helps Youth Take Flight


When Jacob Martinez was a kid in school, his family moved from Los Angeles, California to Dallas, Texas. Real estate was a lot cheaper in Dallas, so they were able to move into a well-off neighborhood, where young people had support and opportunities like Jacob had never imagined.

That deeply disorienting experience stuck with Jacob as he grew up and made his way back to California. There he studied biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, before finding his calling in helping other minority youth get into STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The work was satisfying, but also frustrating — he wondered if he was having enough impact to make a difference. That frustration eventually led Jacob to create Digital NEST, an incubator for young tech talent in the farming towns of Watsonville and Salinas, south of Santa Cruz.

As we hear in this episode, Digital NEST is making a difference. Its graduates make an average starting salary of more than $46,000. The average Watsonville resident makes about $17,000. NEST graduates have been hired not just by local companies but by multi-nationals like software maker Adobe, and the NEST has attracted donations from major venture capitalists.

Read the rest of the story + a 42min podcast here


Matthew Swinnerton