It all started when…
FutureINDesign (FIND) was founded on a simple realization. An endless number of talented, underserved youth, with a desire to reach their potential, exist in the midst of a growing STEAM economy with a significant job skills gap. At FIND, we desire to fill this gap by providing marginalized youth with the skills, experience, and support necessary to build economically sustainable futures while adding diversity to the talent landscape of Utah.
This vision emerged through the work of Nicholina Womack (CEO/Founder). Her task over 15 years was to design and implement community initiatives targeting at-risk and underserved adults. She designed and implemented Salt Lake County’s first government-sponsored after school program for junior high students. During this time, she noticed many students had needs the program was not fulfilling. For example, the curriculum of most after-school programs did not support the future-oriented needs of young adults who were in the process of transitioning into adulthood; most after school programs focused on students’ needs through the 9th grade. This created a significant curriculum gap. Students transitioning to adulthood needed support in the following areas: professional mentoring, job readiness skills, career exploration, and networking opportunities. Young adults who were underserved, yet capable and talented, were graduating from high school without access to critical resources that would help them achieve upward mobility. This was ironic given the number of jobs available in the STEM industry. According to the Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Utah ranks fourth in the nation as a leader in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) careers. With this in mind, Nicholina discovered that 84% of low-income families in Utah that do not own a home computer--yet 90% of careers emerging nationally require a basic proficiency in the field of technology and computing. Nicholina realized the consequences for young adults in underserved communities would be they were left further behind creating a greater strain on resources.
Nicholina came up with an option for underserved young adults that alters the trajectory of intergenerational poverty in two ways: 1) expanding the ability of marginalized populations to enter Utah’s STEAM industry; 2) supporting Utah’s STEAM industry in developing pathways for marginalized populations. The FutureINDesign work development program emerged to help underserved young adults/adult learners become innovative and contributing members of Utah’s creative, entrepreneurial, and digital workforce. The program encourages and supports diverse young adults/adult learners as they develop the skills necessary to expand their skill sets in Utah’s technology landscape. This has the potential to end reliance on government assistance, thereby ending the cycle of poverty, and increasing opportunities for economic mobility.