Give for disruption this holiday season, Portland

Do you ever wonder who will disrupt today’s disrupters? Or who will disrupt your own startup? As the next generation of makers, hackers, and entrepreneurs enters the marketplace, you have opportunities to get to know them. And given that forty-five percent of Portland Public School students are people of color, you can expect our future disrupters to come from diverse backgrounds.

Portland has a number of awesome organizations inspiring and educating the tech and startup talent of tomorrow. Why not consider offering your support, either financially or as a volunteer, to these—or one of the many other— organizations in the Portland community?


Trailblazer Deena Pierott, the founder and executive director of iUrbanTeen, has galvanized a massive undertaking that includes multiple programs touching more than 500 youth in Oregon and Washington, and seems to be expanding at a lightning pace. iUrbanTeen aims to get teens from underrepresented communities engaged in and prepared for technology and STEM careers via mentoring, on site tours, Toastmasters, and other programs. Deena’s work has earned her recognition as a White House Tech Inclusion Champion of Change and a member of Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 List, joining such luminaries as Magic Johnson and Oprah Winfrey.


A program offered though the Sun Community Schools system, {LOG} CAMP exists to bridge the digital divide and end the technology education deficit for low-income, at-risk, foster, and minority youth living in under-served communities across Oregon. The team finished its first pilot program at Harrison Park School this past year and is preparing to expand to additional schools. {LOG} CAMP introduces youth to digital skills with a rigorous academic curriculum starting in the fifth grade, seeking to fill the pipeline for tomorrow’s tech jobs. This team has done its research and I look forward to seeing how {LOG} CAMP makes a difference as it continues to build out its programming.


Technology Association of Oregon’s nonprofit foundation is committed to using project-based learning for technology education. This includes both training teachers and hosting Innovation Academies. A lauded example of community-based hackathons, Innovation Academies are forums that bring technology tools to kids to help them solve relevant problems in their community. The foundation also serves as a fiscal sponsor for great programs such as ChickTech, App Camp 4 Girls, and Game Education PDX.


In the mid-80s the percentage of women computer science graduates was 40 percent; in 2009 the number dropped to 18 percent. What happened? ChickTech founder Janice Levenhagen believes the problem is cultural. By partnering with Code Scouts, and hosting programs for girls of all ages, her organization is trying to create a multi-generational, women-focused community that encourages women new to tech and supports those who are already there. Let’s face it, women are certainly as competent as men in STEM fields; they are just not choosing those careers. ChickTech is changing that.

Katherine Krajnak has been a project manager at the Portland Development Commission (PDC) for more than four years, and most recently managed the Startup PDX Challenge and the Produce Row initiative in the Central Eastside. Her current work at PDC involves projects and initiatives to bolster Portland’s high-growth entrepreneurs across industry and throughout the city. She has been a resident of Portland for more than nine years and is a 10+ year rocker veteran of music scenes in Berlin and Portland. You can follow her on Twitter as @StartupCityPDX.