Matt Clyne on Connecting Students to the Jobs of the Future

Marsean and Jerell are so bright and imaginative that when I met them I wished I could offer them both jobs on the spot. Unfortunately, they are in eighth and ninth grade, respectively, at Friendship Tech Charter School, so the employment contracts will have to wait.

Through an entrepreneurship program called BUILD, these two boys from DC’s Ward 8 are developing and marketing the Insta-Laptop, an ingenious device that turns a smartphone into a laptop. When I visited Friendship Tech, they were learning website design from a General Assembly instructor.

Marsean and Jerell's Insta-Laptop, an ingenious device that turns a smartphone into a laptop

Marsean and Jerell's Insta-Laptop, an ingenious device that turns a smartphone into a laptop

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The Lever Fund, a new force for opportunity in the Greater Washington Area, recently made an investment in BUILD as part of the new Jobs of Tomorrow campaign. I am proud to serve on the Lever Fund’s board and am beyond thrilled that 100% of every dollar donated will flow directly to organizations like BUILD that are equipping students and workers for 21st-century employment.

We need more Marseans and Jerells. First, unlike too many of their peers, they are squarely on the path toward high school graduation and college enrollment. (98% of BUILD Metro DC seniors graduate high school on time, and 97% are accepted into college.) Second, their quest for improved technology is bound to make my life better. Third, in the years ahead they will be joining talent pool that will nourish companies like mine.

I rely on my smartphone for every single step I take in my life and my business. It’s mind-boggling how much innovation is packed into every one of the apps that so many of us use for transportation, commercial transactions, and personal convenience. And to think, those apps didn’t even exist a mere decade ago.

Technology has changed every facet of our lives, and it’s sweeping the job market along with it. That’s why it’s so important for everyone to be included in the exciting—and unpredictable—employment market of the decades ahead.

Not every job in the future will be a tech job, but you can bet that most of the best jobs—the ones that support families—will arise from innovations that haven’t even happened.

The Lever Fund’s Jobs of Tomorrow campaign connects young people in need to opportunities to learn and earn their way to a better life. Please make a philanthropic investment today.

Lever Fund board member Matt Clyne is the CEO and President of Direct Connect.