The Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) program is the education component of the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA). Since 1991, the program has grown to be an international success story providing college and career readiness for 8,000 students yearly in 30 cities and more than $3.5MM in scholarship funding. LOT students participate in an annual National Business Case competition, meet with students representing other continents at national conferences and take on new challenges at the LOT Global Leadership Camp.
The Austin-based chapter got its start in 2009. Our accomplishments include a first place finish at the 2010 National Business Case Competition and a greater than 90% college placement rate. Bottom line, LOT Austin is not a start-up with big dreams. We are an established 501 (c)3 with a record of achievements and local support from Fortune 500 corporations, school districts in the Austin MSA and the community.
LOT’s focus traditionally has been on centered on teaching business skills, a mission relevant to NBMBAA. As many of our graduates have gone on to careers in Corporate American, the tech sector has seen a 42% jump in job growth between 2001 and 2013.
And thanks to income tax incentives, cheap real estate and a vibrant culture, Austin now host to more than 280 tech companies. Despite the 100-120 newcomers to the city, there are more jobs in tech than there are qualified people to fill them. And this led us to a realization: we have to provide more flexible opportunities to ready our kids for their future and to align their education with skills that offer more job choices locally and globally.
To meet more demands of the Austin’s economy and to provide more range of opportunity for our teen audiences, Leaders of Tomorrow is expanding our programming to incorporate a technology track. LOT Austin is not abandoning its traditional course offering; not every child wants to or should have a career in tech. The expansion will offer coding, analytics and product design at basic, intermediate and advanced levels.
The intersection of the two tracks, our traditional business-oriented curriculum and the new technology-based track, is what we are calling LOT GPS, a long –term view of the skills needed to develop a qualified and well-rounded pipeline of talent competitive in several industries. Those LOT GPS proficiencies include life skills, such as time management and communications, project management basics and leadership experience requisite for success in college, career and community. Both tracks will get foundational cross-training; students in the tech curriculum will get basic training in the major business disciplines and our business students will walk away with tech skills relevant to their fields.
The Pipeline Curriculum
We don’t want to produce a developer or an accountant – the minimum viable product. Our goal is to go beyond the goal of many nonprofits with similar missions to ours: exposure. Our belief is that a good developer who can confidently code, run a project and present that project idea to executives with a financials that she understands is more valuable to herself and a company than an equally good developer without those skills. We’re aiming beyond the minimally viable product; we’re producing MVPs.
We’ve partnered with a life skills organization, Leadership for the Teen Spirit, that will aid this transformation. Tina, help here! We are also reaching out to other nonprofits that serve the under-represented to collaborate as mentors, instructors, participants and sponsors. Our philosophy is that we can team with those that want to see more diversity in all industries, but especially the tech industry. That sharing resources can be a smart way to achieve common goals. That coalitions offer more stable and better returns to the Austin community than any single organization. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats.