America on Tech Co-Founder Evin Floyd Robinson navigates social good with a practical objective - create sustainable income.
Evin Floyd Robinson III, emphasis on “Floyd”--an inheritance from his great-grandfather, will often introduce himself this way as a quiet nod to anyone who feels pressured to shorten their names. Instead, Evin remains true to himself and, in so doing, sets himself apart from dismissive, societal standards of shortening one’s name to adhere to the comfort of others. As the co-founder of America on Tech (AOT), Robinson has made a business of setting new standards.
Evin and AOT Co-Founder Jessica Santana met at an Ernst & Young conference during their freshman year of college and maintained a friendship post-grad. During a friendly check-in at Starbucks, they discussed the lack of diversity in their respective fields and expressed the desire to do something about it. Evin says that they knew “there wasn’t a lack of talent, but instead a lack of access and opportunity,” so they decided to be the solution. That solution was charted on napkins and became, and their new venture into tech access was born.
The company started in Brooklyn (as Brooklyn on Tech). Both Evin and Jessica are from the East New York neighborhood, an area whose college graduation rate falls 19% below the borough average. Brooklyn on Tech quickly grew to become New York on Tech and then America on Tech, which now spans several major cities in the United States and has served over 3,000 students.
A Direct Approach to Social Good
Robinson and Santana’s goal is to decrease the wealth gap by opening the door to tech jobs in underserved communities that may not otherwise have access to them. AOT supplements youth curriculums with programming in coding, UX design, computer science, and internship opportunities to ensure the critical objective: closing the wage gap through job placement.
In the United States, the typical white family has eight times the wealth of a typical Black family while having five times the wealth of a typical Hispanic family. While the average median income of a Black household is just over $45,000, the median salary for a computer and information technology job is $88,240. The tech industry presents the potential to address and narrow this wage gap, as diversifying technology seems to be one of the many solutions to wealth inequality.
AOT’s mission is clear: decrease the wage gap by creating equitable pathways for underestimated students. It was essential to Robinson and his co-founder to formulate a new framework without the romance of doing social good. That framework - making money instead of narrating a storybook tale about worthiness - is different. Since its inception, AOT has attracted over $6 million in cash and in-kind resources. The organization has awarded over $123k in scholarships through its efforts and has 85% of its alumni in tech jobs or enrolled in college tech programs.
A Journey Inspired by Impact
Evin Floyd Robinson’s journey to co-founding a tech education company didn’t start as one might expect. He attended Syracuse University and studied economics and communication rhetorical studies as an undergrad. During orientation week there, he realized that he was one of only a handful of Black men in the auditorium. This observation was a trend he later noticed as he entered the tech workforce.
While his original field of interest was well-established, Evin desired to make a more significant impact. His interest in tech began as elective courses in web development, database management, IT project management, and IT security. But this ended up as Robinson’s central focus as he learned more and more about the tech space’s potential.
Robinson continued to dive deeper into and read industry reports and white papers about emerging technology to learn as much as he could. His newly-sprouted interest led to his decision to turn down a full-time job at J.P. Morgan Chase in Corporate Finance. After his decision, Evin found himself surrounded by a “cloud of feedback” from people who disagreed with his choice. “Most people do things based on the opinions of others. I wasn’t asking anyone for my next step. I was pulling all of the insight that I received over the years and deciding what I was going to do next,” Robinson reflected. After taking a hard look at market trends, he decided to follow his gut and shifted his career focus. He understood that technology was not solely about back-office systems but could provide job stability, wealth, and career growth.
Shifting Focus to the Youth
Evin utilized every resource available to him on campus to learn more about the tech industry’s trajectory. He joined student organizations and even founded a group to uplift the youth in the local Syracuse community. After completing grad school and acquiring a Master’s degree in Information Management/Systems, Evin worked as a consultant at Accenture, helping companies meet their goals by innovating. There, he worked on various projects that included artificial intelligence and robotic automation before transitioning as the President of America on Tech.
Evin’s life experiences have informed his desire to address the lack of community resources. Robinson reveals there have been organizations and people that kept him from falling in the cracks. He knows that those who aspire to be significant don’t always find an easy path forward. Because of the unconscious bias that people of color face, aspiration can end among the minefield of obstacles they face, particularly in the tech industry.
Robinson’s accolades are impressive - a Forbes ’30 Under 30’ recipient, Council of Urban Professionals’ NYC Fellow, and an Inaugural Robinhood Foundation Power Fund honoree, among others. But, Evin cites the highlight of his career as seeing former students mention America on Tech as a reason they are successful. He gets to watch as they land internships and secure reliable tech jobs that they may not have otherwise achieved. The bright spot of his career? Bringing new perspectives to the tech space. Reflecting on his work, he says, “seeing the impact on the students and what that means for the rest of the world.”