Jerelyn Rodriguez: The Key to Success

At NPQ, respect for our readers’ work, intelligence, and insight is core to all we do. And, indeed, research says that the nonprofit workforce is motivated differently than the other two sectors. So, we thought we would go out and ask them. The result is this special online series that will run every workday for the next month, illuminating what motivates each of twenty profiled workers.

We think much of what they say will resonate with you, but this is also who NPQ serves each day. They are why our work is so important, and NPQ can’t exist without your contributions.

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jerelyn

Why NPQ serves Jerelyn proudly…

My mother—a Paraprofessional, instilled in me a genuine passion and appreciation for education. Growing up in the South Bronx, I was fortunate enough to receive a valuable education and in return I wanted to give back to my community. I believe everyone deserves access to great schools, the opportunity to have a good paying job and a family sustainable wage. ‘How can I provide this opportunity for everyone?’ is the question that kept me up at night. While working for Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code, I found that there were various opportunities within the technology sector. I realized that we needed to provide technology education as a way to expose young people to promising career pathways. As a result, I launched The Knowledge House (TKH) in 2014 with my co-founder who is a self-taught computer programmer.

We are a city-wide organization and have experience serving a variety of special populations, including court-involved youths and youths that are aging out of the foster care system. Our focus is low-income young adults that are 16 to 24 years of age, and reside in the Bronx. Early on we saw that a good portion of the young people we were serving were not on a college track. So recently The Knowledge House added job training for software development roles to our core programming. We are bridging the gap between education and employment by leveraging the opportunities within the technology sector. Over half of the projected technology jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree, so we believe that the opportunities in technology are within reach for the population that we serve.

Our goal is to match 1,500 young adults to technology employment within the next decade. If we recruit 1,500 young adults from the Bronx, track them from high school completion until they obtain a job in the technology field, then in the long run we can reduce the youth disconnection rate, alleviate poverty, see young people start technology companies in their communities and create jobs locally.

Bridging the education to employment gap is the first step in alleviating poverty in the South Bronx, the poorest congressional district in the nation. If we can start moving the needle in the South Bronx, we can scale this model to similar communities nationwide. We have a ways to go, but I am motivated.

Why Jerelyn Cares About NPQ…

The Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ) is essential for startup nonprofits, especially because resources are scarce. NPQ’s resources for nonprofit managers about the challenges and successes within the nonprofit space are critical. Nonprofit entrepreneurs should learn from other people’s successes and failures, learn promising practices, and feel encouraged by a support system, NPQ offers all of that and so much more. As The Knowledge House (TKH) grows, we will rely on NPQ resources and will share it with other leaders interested in the nonprofit space or launching their own nonprofit.