In an inspiring event marking the commencement of LA Tech Week, the Goldhirsh Foundation, a Los Angeles-based philanthropic organization, hosted a panel discussion titled “Technology and Storytelling for Social Good” at the Creative Visions studio. LA Tech Week panel discussion, moderated by Tara Roth, President of the foundation, brought together nonprofit and tech leaders, including Paul Lanctot from The Debt Collective, Alexis Cabrera from 9 Dots, Sabra Williams from Creative Acts, and Laura Gonzalez from the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI).
The Goldhirsh Foundation’s Vision
Each panelist is a grantee of the Goldhirsh Foundation’s LA2050 initiative, launched in 2011 with the vision of making Los Angeles a better place for all. The foundation pursues its mission by investing in organizations, forming partnerships, and leveraging social capital through community events.
Using Technology to Tackle Societal Challenges
The Debt Collective, represented by web developer Paul Lanctot, focuses on assisting people, especially students, in navigating the complex process of debt forgiveness. By providing an online toolkit platform, the organization simplifies the process, empowering tenants facing eviction to assert their rights effectively. The toolkit even facilitates the electronic filing of documents in Los Angeles County, streamlining the entire procedure.
Empowering Underserved Communities
Alexis Cabrera, Executive Director of 9 Dots, emphasizes the importance of computer science education for underserved communities in Los Angeles. The nonprofit, active since 2011, is dedicated to providing computer science education to empower children for the technology-driven future. Cabrera believes that coding education is essential to prepare youth for the evolving job landscape influenced by generative AI.
Providing Access to Technology for Incarcerated Individuals
Sabra Williams, co-founder of Creative Acts, advocates for technological access as a fundamental right. The nonprofit partners with Meta to offer incarcerated individuals access to Oculus headsets loaded with various experiences, helping them prepare for life beyond prison. This program addresses the digital divide and facilitates reintegration into a computerized world.
Equity and Diversity in the Tech Ecosystem
Laura Gonzalez, Senior Program Manager at LACI, highlights the importance of diversity among tech founders. LACI supports women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color by providing resources, mentorship, and coaching. Their goal is to bridge the gender and income gaps in the tech industry, creating a more inclusive ecosystem.
Empowering Youth in Technology
Cabrera stresses the need for young people to play a proactive role in shaping the future of technology. Encouraging more young individuals to become creators of technology rather than just consumers is essential to close equity gaps and foster innovative solutions.