Creating a Thriving Community for Youth Like Her

youth development youth projects Apr 13, 2021
Creating a Thriving Community for Youth Like Her

IDEAS Empowered by Youth® is a Digital K-12 PBL designed to reduce inequality in education in inner-city communities by helping youth overcome the pandemic learning loss. IDEAS modules empower young people to solve important problems such as poverty, injustice, health crisis, and climate change while preparing them for college and the 21st-century job market. ‘IDEAS’ is the ticket to a brighter future!

Ladderworks is a publishing startup of diverse picture books with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by a character named Spiffy, with founders working on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For January, the focus is on SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. There is so much at stake, so let’s see what’s being done!


Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. I’m thrilled to be talking to Clinay Cameron, an entrepreneur, founder and CEO working to make the world a better place through her work with TechFitCreative and "Thrive Like Me". Are you ready to be enlightened?

Spiffy: Welcome, Clinay!  I can’t wait to hear about the challenges are you addressing! What can you tell us?

Clinay: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! There is an immense need for underserved black and brown youth to be introduced to non-technical roles in tech, game, and production companies. Many of these youth fall through the cracks when they clearly have an innate talent that is not being recognized by teachers, family members, and others. In fact, they may have numerous opportunities in the tech world — many jobs and careers are being created daily that don’t require a computer science or engineering background.

Spiffy: Wow, Clinay. I had no idea! What exactly motivated you to focus on non-technical roles? 

Clinay: I grew up in an era where I was told there was no money in art, and creative extracurricular activities were being done away with in school systems. I attempted to go the medical route and tried to find the best schools to increase my chances for “success” as an aspiring doctor. In college, I was often the only Black female out of 600 students in the sciences, and I soon discovered that racial discrimination was big in this field. I grew weary of finishing at Cal. A light bulb turned on when I stumbled across PIXAR on a walk shortly after graduating. I realized that multi-million and billion dollar companies like this were thriving all over the Bay Area, and I grew hungry to learn more about what required creativity, rather than engineering.

Spiffy: That’s quite an interesting journey, Clinay. Can you tell me about how you are working on creating a more equitable world? 

Clinay: Well, Spiffy, I strive to educate, empower, encourage and prepare underserved youth who are interested in creative and non-technical roles in tech, game, and production companies. TechFitCreative is a social impact organization designed to create and fund opportunities through the “Thrive Like Me Project” — a service and outreach program designed to introduce alternate creative career options to underserved LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth in Oakland, California. I developed TechFitCreative for black and brown youth in Oakland age 15-21, to learn from employees in these industries who look like them.


Pique Curiosity. Drop Knowledge. Grant Access. Repeat. (Photo courtesy of Clinay Cameron) 

Spiffy: Can you tell me about a recent milestone and what kind of impact it’s had?

Clinay: We earned a $5,000 scholarship from the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation in January 2020, which helped us market and launch the organization and program. Our first tour was with Netflix in February 2020, and more than 25 youth attended. Just before COVID-19 hit, we were developing our second tour at a game company in Redwood City, California.

Spiffy: It sounds like you’re off to an amazing start! I’m curious, have you had any experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn? 

Clinay: Yes, Spiffy! A week before the Netflix tour was about to occur, the school that I partnered with pulled out at the last minute. In order to avoid canceling the tour, which we had been orchestrating for months, I had to aggressively market and vet organizations that had qualified student candidates. Through word of mouth and social media such as LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook, I managed to successfully get approximately 24 youth from three different organizations to participate in the tour. As a result, we were able to document and impact the youth as well as the adults and panelists that were involved.

Spiffy: Wow! Not giving up sure has its rewards! Is there anything unexpected you’ve learned from someone recently?

Clinay: Carol Barash told me a story about what made her realize that she was different from other people at a young age. A particular moment with her teacher made her realize what she was willing to die for in order to make an impact. Although my organization may not make sense to others, I know that this is necessary to help youth who have a similar upbringing as me.

Spiffy: Well, Clinay, I think you’re going to totally crush it. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. It’s been an honor!


Clinay Cameron, CEO and founder of TechFitCreative and “Thrive Like Me”,  is a Black social entrepreneur, youth advocate, coach, and corporate wellness professional in California’s Bay Area. She strives to inspire the masses through her journey as a humanitarian, public speaker, and creative influencer. (Nominated by StartOut)

© 2020 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s stories of founders building a more equitable world at

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