What Once Was is a location-based mixed reality (XR) platform and that explores the impacts of gentrification. It leverages the power of storytelling and Web 3.0 technologies to build community and close the digital divide.

The Problem

The families of the youth we serve are being pushed out of historic Austin neighborhoods. This displacement is largely driven by ‘well-meaning’ tech industry professionals who have a very limited understanding of their overall impact on our historical communities. As a result, BIPOC families, especially Black families are largely under-resourced and oftentimes feel invisible. Many of our local youth have limited access to digital and communications technology, while those that do have access are often unaware of how to best leverage those tools to share their own story, connect with their community, and often struggle to identify and pursue their college and career aspirations.

Our Solution

At E4 Youth, our mission is to Engage, Empower, Educate and Employ the young talent of color an equitable future demands by ensuring that they are Seen, Heard and HIRED.

E4 Youth has distinguished itself as an innovative leader in youth workforce development by leveraging our Creative Leadership Academy to help thousands of youth build quality digital portfolios, participate in job shadowing, apprenticeship, and internship opportunities as they move on to high-growth careers at top creative and technology companies across the U.S.

Over the past five years, E4 Youth has spearheaded a coalition of for-profit and nonprofit partners that leverages the power of storytelling to promote digital skills and cultural literacy throughout the community. These experiences are created by our Creative Leadership Academy members and live on our immersive storytelling platform What Once Was (WOW).

In the coming year, E4 Youth will continue working with sister nonprofits Latinitas, Creative Action, Neill-Cochran House Museum, and Six Square to serve K – 12 youth across Central Texas.