Last year, when the idea for what we know now as The Div, Inc., came to fruition with our grand opening in August, our board founders approached it like any other business venture.
Our plan was to throw a couple of good solid ideas up on the wall we thought might work and see what stuck.
We — the founders and our respective companies, Digimedia and iThemes — would also put our money (as well as time and energy) where our heart was, which meant committing one year of budget donations to it (which includes a salary, legal fees, rent, Internet, electricity, etc).
I think all of those who were involved or came through the doors understand what kind of investment that was for us to fund a nonprofit like The Div as we’ve heard “thank you” over and over and over throughout the past year from the community.
But our focus from the beginning though has been two-fold:
1. Build up the web tech community in Oklahoma.
We’ve made big strides in helping do that in Oklahoma City. As I’ve said to some of the community leaders doing great things in OKC, it takes ALL of us working together to build and shape Oklahoma as a tech hub we all know it can be (from the web tech companies here to the new startup acceelerators, coworking spaces, city and state governments and organizations, and most importantly the people working in this field).
But I think we all realize we’re still at the ground level of building that community, attitude, people and infrastructure here.
Like everything, it simply takes time and won’t happen overnight.
Not to mention all the amazing people we’ve met through the work of The Div who see this vision and want to help make it a reality!
Which leads me to our second focus ….
2. Inspire the next generation to seek careers or businesses in the web tech industry.
Part of building a tech culture and hub here is having the qualified, passionate PEOPLE to start businesses, or work in them to build the products and services to offer customers.
Although I love my home state and want to help make it famous for web tech innovation, a vital part of that is inspiring and training the next generation of people who will do just that … and THIS is what gets ALL of us excited.
And that’s where our important pivot with The Div is going next … focusing almost exclusively on the next generation.
Thus, our board has decided to refocus The Div on our kids program, Div Jr.
Last weekend we held our first Div Jr. event called Scratch Camp with the hope of many more, and we have another already in the works.
Div Jr. is where we’ve seen the most energy, responsiveness and commitment from others (like sponsors and volunteers) who will ultimately make it happen. Lindsey has been working with a number of potential sponsor/donors to host Div Jr. events as well as fund them and are excited at the opportunities we’ve got to really knock this out of the park and hit our mission head-on.
We have two very promising opportunities with organizations that have great computer labs already in place so that we can offer these events for children who do not have access to their own computer equipment. (One of the most expensive fundraising elements for Div Jr. we were faced with is getting a computer lab so this is HUGE.)
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR THE DIV?
- We will continue to keep The Div, Inc., as a 501c3 nonprofit foundation open for Div Jr. as well as future opportunities, meaning donations will be tax deductible as they have been in the past. LIndsey along with help from the community worked tireless to get that status so we could build the nonprofit.
- As of Aug. 1, we will be vacating the physical space at 1712 S. Kelly Ave and go “mobile.” Meaning we’ll go where the host facilities are. Sadly, although we love having the physical space for user groups, classes and events, it is simply more overhead that could be going to the kid’s program.
- Lindsey will transition from full-time executive director to a volunteer. Again, less overhead means future donations (and sponsorships) go directly to giving trainers stipends, spreading the word, and other resources for kid’s events.
- We still need your help. We have acknowledged from the beginning that we can’t do it alone. If Div Jr. is to continue as we hope it will, we need volunteers, trainers and sponsor / donors.
I’m sure you might have other questions or ideas, please let us know.
We are super excited about this important focus and pivot for The Div and look forward to sharing the impact the Div Jr. program has in the future!