Digital NEST’s centers for technology are empowering a wave of local tech-minded young people
Jacob Martinez is preparing local young people for opportunities in tech and digital innovation. His growing network of Digital NEST locations provide the hands-on skills training and networking experience needed to succeed in a variety of tech-based industries.
Digital NEST was founded in 2014 at the Cabrillo College satellite campus in Watsonville. Founder Jacob Martinez recognized that rural, agricultural communities were historically locked out of the economic opportunity and digital innovation that the Silicon Valley tech industry was bringing to other California communities. This led Martinez to ask, “Why are these companies continuously looking for talent in other parts of the country when there’s brilliant, young, diverse talent that exists right outside their corporate headquarters?”
To change that story, Jacob built a thriving center for technology and empowerment to prepare local young people to prosper in the workforce. Through hands-on programs and training, and real-life networking opportunities, Digital NEST connects youth to futures that previously seemed out of reach.
The programs at Digital NEST focus on tech-involved jobs. They provide training and mentoring in web design, digital arts, project management, leadership skills, and more. The NEST members’ natural curiosity and interest in technology is easily channeled into college and career success. This success can be meaningful and tangible; the wage-gain for youth who complete NEST training averages $25,000 annually.
Beyond skill-training, more doors are opened through the annual NEST Flight Career Development Conference which connects over three hundred talented youth to representatives from Silicon Valley and local companies. The bizzNEST program provides on-the-job training, working on real products and services in web design, videography, or graphic design for paying clients.
The pandemic brought inevitable challenges, but also launched NESTcorps, a program for member and volunteer response to COVID-19. Putting into action the leadership, project management, logistics, and marketing skills learned in NEST programs, NESTcorps members and volunteers channeled their energy to give back to the community. They created a NEST helpline to centralize COVID resources for Santa Cruz County, and videos for K-2 grade students to promote reading during SIP. They collaborated with UndocuFund Project to raise $50,000 for emergency assistance for undocumented neighbors, and received national recognition for participating in Campesino Project, an appreciation of the farmworkers feeding the nation during the crisis.
Digital NEST is celebrating their beautiful new tech center in downtown Salinas, inside the remodeled historic Salinas fire station. The Salinas NEST team opens their doors to full capacity in August, welcoming 360+ Salinas members into the expansive new space. This expansion to Salinas and plans for new NESTs in Gilroy and 8 other Central Coast locations support their vision – create sustainable and scalable technology career centers in vulnerable communities throughout California and beyond. Jacob Martinez and his Digital NEST team continue to make their vision become reality for the communities they serve.
We’ve been banking with Santa Cruz County Bank since the beginning, and as Digital NEST grows, they’re right there with us. The parallel growth we’re both experiencing, the community minded focus we both have – it’s a successful partnership that supports our goals along the Central Coast.
— Jacob Martinez, Founder & Executive Director, Digital NEST
Santa Cruz County Bank has been a proud sponsor of Digital NEST since its inception and is excited to celebrate the growth of the NEST community as the Bank also expands into Monterey County.
To learn more about Digital Nest, visit their website here.
More on Santa Cruz County Bank
Santa Cruz County Bank is a leading lender in the county, region, state and nation. Most recently, the Bank ranked in the top 10 lenders in the San Francisco District of the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for both the number of loans and the dollar amount of SBA loans. The San Francisco District runs from Santa Cruz to the Oregon border along the coast and includes all Bay Area counties.
The true value of community banks has been demonstrated throughout the pandemic. When the CARES ACT Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was first announced, Santa Cruz County Bank’s employees sprang into action to develop a secure portal for pre-applications before the program was rolled out by the government. Their early response made it possible for business owners to get in the queue for funding to keep their employees on the payroll and their businesses operating during the pandemic. In hindsight, it was a race against time.
Santa Cruz County Bank has the resources and lending capacity to help bring your business to the next level. We look forward to continuing to assist in the recovery and reopening of local businesses. We are here for the community with all our heart and soul.