Sync or Swim Blog Series #6

Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education

By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads

MARINOVATORS

For this installment of the Marin Economic Forum’s Sync or Swim, I’m really excited to tell you about a new and innovative Digital and Experiential Education Program that I just found out about called MARINOVATORS, which has been incubating for the past 2 years, pretty much under the large public radar. 🙂

At the recent/inspiring Makerspace and Novato Library Opening, John MacLeod introduced me to Dane Lancaster, who is the Senior Director of Information Technology at the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) and one of the Co-Creators/Co-Shepherds of MARINOVATORS that is open to ALL of the Marin middle, high school and college students to present and exhibit their collaborative maker-style projects at the Saturday, April 30th Event throughout the campus at the College of Marin.

Designed to build student confidence, competence and to bridge the gaps between Marin schools, college and the real world, this year’s program is being co-produced as a joint initiative by the MCOE and the College of Marin. MARINOVATORS offers a place where Marin County students can showcase their passion, creativity and ingenuity in using STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Digital Design and Math) principals to solve world problems.

Project themes for 2016 include: Solar Power, Smart Cities, Environmental Science, Mobile Apps, Virtual Reality, Coding, Media MAKERS, The INTERNET of Things, Digital Health and Fitness, Hack Your Biology, Robotics, Digital Fashion, Future of Work and The New Industrial Revolution.

“We especially hope that children find MARINOVATORS exciting and fun and ignites their interest in entrepreneurship, invention or pursuing a STEM or STEAM career in the future,” offered Mr. Lancaster.

The birth of MARINOVATORS arose in the Winter of 2014 from conversations by a group of teachers, the Marin County Office of Education and Autodesk about how to introduce the education community to MAKER and hands on STEM. These pioneer teachers were finding that student engagement and learning increased dramatically when classroom activities were more hands-on and focused on design thinking. One strategy to expand awareness of STEM and MAKER suggested by the group was to sponsor an “academic maker faire” in the Spring of 2014.

Last year, the MCOE hosted the first MARINOVATORS and was a huge success with over 1,800 people attending to see, hear, and interact with teachers, students and their amazing creations.

To reserve tickets to the Maker 2016 Showcase and
hear from key innovative Marin stakeholders click here.

Students can apply to exhibit their work here — marinovators.org.

Teachers please contact Dane Lancaster by email at dane@marinschools.org

MEF Newsletter February 2016

MEF Newsletter

February 2016


Perspectives by MEF CEO Steve Lockett, MBA
MEF and Economic Development

Since coming onboard as the CEO of Marin Economic Forum, I’ve had a number of people ask me what is meant by “economic development.” Many view it as an abstract concept. Others see it as being strictly pro-business without regard to workers, the community or the environment. Historically speaking, economic development was based around creating and/or retaining jobs, and growing the tax base and income of a region, which in turn would positively benefit the well-being of the region.

But over the past decade, the practice of economic development has expanded beyond this location and firm-based approach to encompass the development of human capital, the arts, and the environment. Human capital can be defined as those sets of skills, knowledge and value that are contributed by the workforce and populace in the community. In this way, economic development organizations are working closer with the communities in which they operate to highlight and promote the “quality of life” that will entice not only employers, but also showcase the skills and talents of the local workforce.

This is why Marin Economic Form works with its stakeholders to promote the “economic vitality” of Marin. Whether you are an employer, an entrepreneur, an employee, a student or a citizen in Marin, we want to be of assistance to you. We can do this in several ways. Marin Economic Forum’s Board of Directors represents the regions and industries and organizations of Marin, and are a great source for information. MEF is a resource for the County, municipalities and communities of Marin to help their small and medium size businesses take advantage of available federal, state, local and nonprofit economic development resources. MEF can help Marin businesses connect with programs offered through the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz). MEF can articulate how public policy issues affect and impact the business community in Marin, and how proposed business projects will affect the community, its people and its environment.

As the primary economic vitality organization in Marin, MEF serves as the face of economic development to the North Bay, the San Francisco Bay area, and beyond. We work to educate Bay Area business leaders, organizations and the media of Marin’s successes. By highlighting the wonderful lifestyle and communities of Marin, tied with the lower cost of doing business compared to other San Francisco Bay areas, MEF is working to attract new businesses to Marin.

The Marin Economic Forum is here to be your resource. Your resource for information, for analysis, and for connections both inside Marin, and across the region and state.

What To Watch

Feature Article

Philanthropic Arm of Marin Economic Forum:
Supporting our Communities Non Profit Organizations
By Nina H. Gardner
CORE President, Partner Filice Insurance, and Marin Economic Forum Board Member

100MARIN is Marin County’s premier giving circle. Founded in 2015 by members of a local professional group, CORE, the group’s mission is to exponentially expand the giving power of its members in order to benefit local non-profits. To date, 100MARIN has given away over $60K to deserving Marin County non-profits, and is now the official philanthropic outreach arm of the Marin Economic Forum.

100MARIN was founded to make impact giving accessible to a large swath of the community, thus helping to further connect the business and non-profit communities in Marin. One of the founder’s wives, Erin Leidy, suggested bringing the giving circle model to Marin, having heard of similar groups in other counties. However, the members of CORE put their own spin on the format, making it a not only a powerful way to support local charities, but a fun party as well.

The format is simple: 100+ people convene, each of whom has committed to donate $100. Five non-profit organizations each give 4-minute presentations during which they share their mission, vision, need, and impact in Marin. All attendees are then asked to vote for their favorite presentation, at which point the votes are tallied, and the winner of the pot of $100 donations is announced. CORE sponsors the party, so that 100% of attendees’ donations go directly to the winning non-profit.

The first party was held in January ’15, and was an instant success, raising over $20,000 for the non-profit winner, North Bay Children’s Center. In addition, 100MARIN Charter Member, Melissa Prandi, sponsored $1,000 consolation prizes for the 4 runners-up. Both North Bay Business Journal and MarinScope featured 100MARIN in follow-up pieces.

The partnership with Marin Economic Forum was announced at the group’s second event (Summer ’15), where over $40,000 was raised for a combination of the winner and the runners-up. The IJ and Marin Magazine both wrote articles about the second party, and more than $40,000 were donated.

100MARIN’s goal is engage and inspire as many people as possible in crowd-sourced philanthropy while benefiting the many deserving non-profits in Marin County.

100MARIN’s next event takes place on Thursday, March 10, 2016, 6:00pm—8:00PM at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato. Please visit: www.100MARIN.org to register.

The presenting non-profits are as follow:

Animals/Environment: Marin Bicycle Coalition
Health/Human Services: Wednesday’s Gift
Arts/Culture/Humanities: Novato Theater
Children/Education: Marin County School Volunteers
Public Benefit: ExtraFood.org

Guests mingle before and after the presentations while enjoying delicious fare from Il Davide Cucina Italiana, along with wines from several boutique producers.

It’s a wonderful evening of Food, Wine, and Philanthropy. We hope you will join us!

Nina Gardner
415.717.8583
nina@filice.com

Calendar of Events

March

3 — San Rafael State of the City Dinner Event Details
5 — Make-A-Thon Event Details
10 — 100MARIN Winter Event Event Details

April

6 — Construction Development Meeting
6 — Finance Industry Meeting
30 — Marinovators Event Details

Sync or Swim Series #6

Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education
By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads

MARINOVATORS

For this installment of the Marin Economic Forum’s Sync or Swim, I’m really excited to tell you about a new and innovative Digital and Experiential Education Program that I just found out about called MARINOVATORS, which has been incubating for the past 2 years, pretty much under the large public radar. 🙂

At the recent/inspiring Makerspace and Novato Library Opening, John MacLeod introduced me to Dane Lancaster, who is the Senior Director of Information Technology at the Marin County Office of Education (MCOE) and one of the Co-Creators/Co-Shepherds of MARINOVATORS that is open to ALL of the Marin middle, high school and college students to present and exhibit their collaborative maker-style projects at the Saturday, April 30th Event throughout the campus at the College of Marin.

Designed to build student confidence, competence and to bridge the gaps between Marin schools, college and the real world, this year’s program is being co-produced as a joint initiative by the MCOE and the College of Marin. MARINOVATORS offers a place where Marin County students can showcase their passion, creativity and ingenuity in using STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Digital Design and Math) principals to solve world problems.

Project themes for 2016 include: Solar Power, Smart Cities, Environmental Science, Mobile Apps, Virtual Reality, Coding, Media MAKERS, The INTERNET of Things, Digital Health and Fitness, Hack Your Biology, Robotics, Digital Fashion, Future of Work and The New Industrial Revolution.

“We especially hope that children find MARINOVATORS exciting and fun and ignites their interest in entrepreneurship, invention or pursuing a STEM or STEAM career in the future,” offered Mr. Lancaster.

The birth of MARINOVATORS arose in the Winter of 2014 from conversations by a group of teachers, the Marin County Office of Education and Autodesk about how to introduce the education community to MAKER and hands on STEM. These pioneer teachers were finding that student engagement and learning increased dramatically when classroom activities were more hands-on and focused on design thinking. One strategy to expand awareness of STEM and MAKER suggested by the group was to sponsor an “academic maker faire” in the Spring of 2014.

Last year, the MOCE hosted the first MARINOVATORS and was a huge success with over 1,800 people attending to see, hear, and interact with teachers, students and their amazing creations.

To reserve tickets to the Maker 2016 Showcase and
hear from key innovative Marin stakeholders click here.

Students can apply to exhibit their work here — marinovators.org.

Teachers please contact Dane Lancaster by email at dane@marinschools.org

MEF Chief Economist Update

2016 and the Global Economy: A Rocky Start to the Year
Dr. Robert Eyler Ph.D., MEF Chief Economist

While the Marin County economy is coming off its best jobs growth year since the mid-2000s, the world economy is starting to feel the ripple effects of the Chinese markets slowing down across investment and households. The perceived economic slowdown in China has shown its face across commodities markets and now is transmitting through financial markets. American and European financial markets have been tumbling since late 2015, and continue their fall. Why? What has a Chinese slowdown got to do with us and how is Marin County likely to feel the ripple if at all? Will my local restaurant or coffee shop close?

The Chinese economy was due for a slowdown after almost 20 years of unabated growth. It is a natural, cyclic aspect of growth. The key is the Chinese population. As incomes grew, the Chinese economy converted, albeit somewhat slowly, from an export-driven economy to a more balanced economy with some focus on its own households as consumers of its own products. This is a by-product of growth, but comes with trade-offs. One is local inflation; as local demand rises with incomes, the prices of goods and services has pressure upward. The Chinese population is now competing in global markets for the same goods and services as the United States and Europe. Inflation comes from excess demand conditions. Inflation leads to new wage demands, as excess demand for workers in labor markets also forces. The sum of these parts, including rising debt levels and some misfires with construction, have given global investors some uneasiness. Also, 6.5 years of equity market growth in trend means profits are being taken off the table with any sign of general risk rising. Our financial markets are correcting for the new information, and the key for many households in the United States (and especially Marin County) is if this is a sign of a coming recession.

For Marin County, the equity markets are a place where wealth is stored and compared to other investment possibilities, such as real estate. Housing markets remain buoyant, as interest rates remain relatively low. A key aspect of this recent shift in equity markets is how interest rates react. The Federal Reserve is unlikely to increase rates quickly given global conditions, so housing markets should be good for at least another 12 months. However, business investment and hiring may slow down a bit, and the Bay Area labor market may start adjusting if venture capital and general equity investment also slow down and shut off the funding valve. Those that live in Marin County, but rely on the core Bay Area labor markets for income, may feel a shock. While I do not expect a major amount of layoffs or a shock that changes business fundamentally in the Bay Area, this six-plus year run has to slow down at some point. The beauty of slow commodities markets is lower fuel and food prices, which act like a tax break for everyone, especially lower-income workers and commuters.

Expect 2016 to be a year of adjustments and slower growth, but Marin County residents are likely to not lose wealth in their homes or their jobs en masse. A protracted growth cycle leads to a recession that is usually as violent. Since this has been a slow and steady recovery period, the fundamentals of the economy do not lead economists to believe an economic slowdown would be strong; there is not one predicted for California through 2019 at this point. Don’t be too worried, think ‘buy-and-hold’ and plan rather than react. Marin County will always be a place people want to live; we need to keep making it a place they want to work, also.

MEF Newsletter January 2016

MEF Newsletter

January 2016


Perspectives by MEF CEO Steve Lockett, MBA
Economic Outlook for 2016

Happy New Year! I hope all of you are having a good start to 2016.

I’m sure everyone is interested at how the economy looks for the upcoming year. We should be seeing a global economy that will be a challenge, which may affect interest rates and housing prices. However, Marin County has a good outlook for 2016. Marin is a destination for both residents (housing demand) and also for life-sciences businesses. In 2016 there will be a number of socioeconomic and political issues that may dominate the local policy scene, but may also have some dampening effects on the economy due to general uncertainty. These issues include, but are not limited to, the continued California drought, the presidential election, and the potential legalization of marijuana and other 2016 ballot measures, just to name a few. If you’d like to learn more about the economic outlook for 2016, please come to the Marin Business Forum event “State of the Economy: Thinking about Economic and Social Issues as 2016 Unfolds,” on January 21st, 2016, from 5 PM to 7PM. For more information and registration, please go the MBF’s event page.

Last week I was honored to be able to speak at a Marin Coalition luncheon about the economic outlook for 2016. The Marin Coalition, now in its 41st year, works to protect and improve the economic, social, and environmental welfare of Marin County. It was a wonderful event with a very engaged audience. Many of the audience questions were around the environment, economic growth in Marin, and the on-going housing and transportation issues. If you would like to view a recording of the event, please check out the Marin Coalition YouTube page.

Before we completely leave behind 2015, I would like to highlight the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) 23rd Annual Heart of Marin™ Awards, which was held on January 7th, 2016. These awards recognize outstanding nonprofits and the committed individuals who serve them. This year nearly 900 people gathered at the ceremony to recognize the nominees and winners in eight categories. I would like to thank Linda Davis, CEO of CVNL, and all of the CVNL staff for putting together such a fabulous event. I highly recommend everyone take a look at the Heart of Marin™ page to see all the winners and nominees.

Best wishes to everyone for a prosperous start to 2016, and as always, thank you for your interest, engagement and participation with Marin Economic Forum.

What To Watch

State of the Economy

“Thinking about Economic and Social Issues as 2016 Unfolds”

Thursday January 21, 2016 from 5 PM to 7 PM
Where: Wood Island, 80 East Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Larkspur map

Marin Economic Forum Chief Economist Dr. Robert Eyler will provide a brief overview of the global, national, state and regional economy as 2016 unfolds. Part of the economic forecast is what social and political issues are coming up for the state of California and Marin County in 2016 as we face major elections in June and November. Topics will consider the effects of raising the minimum wage from $10 (effective Jan 1, 2016 in California) to perhaps $15 in Marin County, issues of rent control, the beginning of SMART rail, and continued concerns over local talent all are brewing. Rob will engage the crowd a bit in this discussion, as there are no easy answers but we will also be asked to find some answers (or fund some) soon.

Personal Tribute

John Starr, 1965-2016

Radiolands, Founder and CEO; Chapter Director for Startup Grind North Bay; Actor, Producer and Entrepreneur

It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our friend and colleague John Starr. He passed away on Saturday evening, January 9, 2016.

A San Anselmo resident, John worked in the San Francisco Bay Area Entertainment and Technology fields for more than 20 years. He helped start two venture-funded tech companies, managed computer networks for several large non-profits, taught computer skills to journalists, and produced or acted in many media projects. His voice can be heard on commercials, corporate narrations and award-winning children’s audio books.

John volunteered his time as Chapter Director for Startup Grind North Bay, an event series and website designed to help educate, inspire, and connect local entrepreneurs. He was always pushing entrepreneurship to the next level and was dedicated to fostering the entrepreneurial spirit in the startup business community.”

John was also a loyal member of the Marin Economic Forum’s Technology Entrepreneurs Group, bringing his passion for entrepreneurial endeavors to our community with his exuberance, passion and knowledge. We are thankful for his contributions and the opportunity to work with him; he will be missed by all.

Our community sends caring thoughts to his family. May they find solace during this difficult time.

Feature Article
Chris Stewart
City of Novato, Economic Development Manager
MEF Executive Board Member

The Life Science industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the US and continues to grow by more than 10% each year. The North Bay region continues to grow and advance biomedical innovation and to bring new medical advances to patients.

Led by Christopher Stewart, Chairman and CEO, the North Bay Life Science Alliance (NBLSA) is a group of life science professionals, educators and public leaders working together to build awareness of the North Bay region’s many advantages as a location for companies operating in the Life Sciences industry. The Alliance was formed in 2014 with funding from the City of Novato and in-kind support from The Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

As well as marketing the region as a relocation destination for life science companies, the NBLSA assists and advocates for the region’s established biotech companies. This assistance has resulted in major impacts, including helping Novato-based Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc to secure $2.1 million in California tax credits.

Since the inception of NBLSA, the region has seen a 600% increase in life science jobs from a ten year trend of 50 new life science positions a year to 350 in 2014/2015, boosting the local economy by an estimated $100.8 million annually.

NBLSA has big plans for 2016, including a presence, along with Marin Economic Forum, at BIO 2016, the global event for biotechnology, which takes place from June 06-09, 2016 at the Moscone Center, San Francisco. After the convention, the NBLSA is running a Tour of the North Bay to introduce executives from 80 international life science companies to the region, which will include an orientation tour, presentations at The Buck Institute, and a chance to network with local company executives.

The Alliance is also planning a direct marketing campaign to promote the region to life science executives in San Francisco and the South Bay, where biotech start ups and SMEs are being squeezed out of commercial properties by rent increases fuelled by the growing technology sector. The NBLSA, in association with Marin Economic Forum, aims to communicate that there are vacant properties, lab space, world-class research facilities and a vibrant and growing industry cluster here in the North Bay, where commercial properties are available at an average of 38% less than San Francisco Metro rents.

Established companies are motivated to relocate to the North Bay for its attractive blend of location and lifestyle. The North Bay provides easy access to the city of San Francisco, excellent transportation infrastructure and is central positioning between UC San Francisco, UC Davis and UC Berkeley, and many are attracted to the Northern California climate and beautiful natural landscape offered by the region.

Find out more at www.nblsa.com or by contacting Christopher Stewart at 415.899.8902

Calendar of Events

January

  • 21 — Marin Business Forum Event — Dr. Eyler presents “State of the Economy 2016”
  • 25 — CA Competes Tax Credit Application Deadline — business.ca.gov
  • February

  • 3 — Destination Management Meeting
  • 3 — Technology Entrepreneurs Meeting
  • 6 — Finance Industry Meeting
  • March

  • 3 — San Rafael State of the City Dinner — details here
  • Sync or Swim Series #5

    Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education
    By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads

    Interview with Zack Karlsson, CEO & Director, ChangeMyPath, Education Technology

    Given that the Digital Education Industry Market Size is approximately worth $51.5 Billion, (according to the Ambient Insight Research) and that “Gamification” processes are effectively being used by the corporate world to train employees at Apple, Oracle, Twitter, Salesforce and other large firms, it seemed worth exploring if any local companies were focused on this nexus.

    So, I attended a nearby BASN (Bay Area Startup Network) and US Angel Investors and met David Mandel, a very successful serial entrepreneur and seed investor, who had launched an exciting new education start-up called ChangeMyPath. He introduced to his CEO and fellow Board Member Zack Karlsson, with whom I conducted the below interview.

    Michael: What’s your background in the video game business?

    Zack: I’ve been in the industry for about 15 years starting out at the bottom as a Game Master for EverQuest and worked my way up to VP at Capcom (market cap $1.2B) and have held senior positions at independent developers like Double Fine and big gaming industry publishers like Namco. By trade, I’m a Business Development guy. I’ve built a career on being a games guy on the business side of things.

    Michael: How did Change My Path come about?

    Zack: My co-founder, David Mandel, came to me looking for a CEO for a startup he was trying to put together. David is a serial entrepreneur and seed investor but with no experience in games and he wanted to put together a company around a gaming concept that he had developed with his daughter and the person who is now our co-founder and CTO, Stephen Williams. David and I spent a month or so trying to find a way that I was excited about the concept and just couldn’t find it, but through the process, we found a really nice working relationship and thought we could do something cool.

    David asked me if I could do anything with my next career, without limitation, what would it be? I had heard a talk, years ago, by Ted Price on the future of games and what the world may look like 10 years from now with games as a focus. Ted was bold — it wasn’t the same old talk about BRIC, digital distribution, free-to-play etc. It was audacious and wonderful and inspired me. I spent the next couple years refining my retirement idea: When I was old and didn’t need money, what would I do with my free time? This was it. I pitched it to David and, somewhat surprisingly, he was convinced. We looped in Stephen as CTO to help us flesh out the tech and parts of the concept, and we were off to the races. It’s an idea that I thought was too big and too crazy for someone else to jump in on, but David saw the dream and then we got Stephen hooked, and we set about making it happen.

    Michael: What have the power of smartphones and tablets opened up for you?

    Zack: It has given us the ability to deliver digital content to anyone anywhere, but more importantly, it’s given us a broader general market in which to compete. It’s allowed people who never self-identified as gamers and let them participate in entertainment that isn’t strictly one-way. It’s given us a challenge on user interface design — gone are the days when you had a 13 button controller to design around, now you have to think about touch, 3D, motion sensing, Augmented Reality, and a litany of input devices. The most important thing for us is the ubiquity of smartphones. For CMP, we can reach anyone, anywhere, at a time that is convenient for them.

    Michael: How are you using gamification with Change My Path?

    Zack: Gamification for us is split into two parts. 1) Taking educational content and making it engaging and fun. There is a wealth of experience in this particular endeavor from the old Oregon Trail and Carmen San Diego games I used to play as a kid to the content done by Broderbund, The Learning Company, and many others. The question hasn’t yet been answered if this kind of content can be educationally transformative. In other words, does it leave a lasting impact on peoples’ lives? Could it? We think it can. We think that the content has, with no offense intended to others in the space, been designed primarily by educators rather than entertainers.

    Everything we know about learning is that it works best when people are engaged and yet, we think it perfectly natural, as adults, to pay tuition to an institution of higher learning and, once the tuition is paid, it becomes our job to learn rather than their job to teach. The engagement factor goes to 0. What happens when content gets subjected to an open market, where people get to make decisions about learning that engages them first? Where the content isn’t simply a lecture and a quiz?

    We live in an age with some incredible interactive entertainment but so little of that content has peripheral learning engaged, or value beyond simply being entertaining. There is virtue in pure entertainment, but there is also virtue in using the skills we have learned as an industry to help bring someone job skills or knowledge that will help them better their lives. And 2) It is about taking the process of the consumption of educational content and adding gamification to it.

    This is not particularly innovative, but it has, to my knowledge, not been done well before. There are some parts of this that exist in different platforms that are out there, but most of those platforms fall short on understanding the motivation loop that is the foundation and driver of the gaming industry: action, value, outcome. In our example, taking a class is the action, learning something is the value, but where is the outcome? Most of us don’t learn just to learn — it’s a noble pursuit, learning for learning’s sake, but it’s a conceit primarily reserved for the privileged. Most of us take a class so we can learn something so we can get a job, a promotion, or benefit our career. We may be one of the first to take classic gaming compulsion loops and apply it to progression through content that has secondary value.

    Continue Reading

    Sync or Swim Blog Series #5

    Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education

    By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads

    Interview with Zack Karlsson, CEO & Director, ChangeMyPath, Education Technology

    Given that the Digital Education Industry Market Size is approximately worth $51.5 Billion, (according to the Ambient Insight Research) and that “Gamification” processes are effectively being used by the corporate world to train employees at Apple, Oracle, Twitter, Salesforce and other large firms, it seemed worth exploring if any local companies were focused on this nexus.

    So, I attended a nearby BASN (Bay Area Startup Network) and US Angel Investors and met David Mandel, a very successful serial entrepreneur and seed investor, who had launched an exciting new education start-up called ChangeMyPath. He introduced to his CEO and fellow Board Member Zack Karlsson, with whom I conducted the below interview.

    Michael: What’s your background in the video game business?

    Zack: I’ve been in the industry for about 15 years starting out at the bottom as a Game Master for EverQuest and worked my way up to VP at Capcom (market cap $1.2B) and have held senior positions at independent developers like Double Fine and big gaming industry publishers like Namco. By trade, I’m a Business Development guy. I’ve built a career on being a games guy on the business side of things.

    Michael: How did Change My Path come about?

    Zack: My co-founder, David Mandel, came to me looking for a CEO for a startup he was trying to put together. David is a serial entrepreneur and seed investor but with no experience in games and he wanted to put together a company around a gaming concept that he had developed with his daughter and the person who is now our co-founder and CTO, Stephen Williams. David and I spent a month or so trying to find a way that I was excited about the concept and just couldn’t find it, but through the process, we found a really nice working relationship and thought we could do something cool.

    David asked me if I could do anything with my next career, without limitation, what would it be? I had heard a talk, years ago, by Ted Price on the future of games and what the world may look like 10 years from now with games as a focus. Ted was bold — it wasn’t the same old talk about BRIC, digital distribution, free-to-play etc. It was audacious and wonderful and inspired me. I spent the next couple years refining my retirement idea: When I was old and didn’t need money, what would I do with my free time? This was it. I pitched it to David and, somewhat surprisingly, he was convinced. We looped in Stephen as CTO to help us flesh out the tech and parts of the concept, and we were off to the races. It’s an idea that I thought was too big and too crazy for someone else to jump in on, but David saw the dream and then we got Stephen hooked, and we set about making it happen.

    Michael: What have the power of smartphones and tablets opened up for you?

    Zack: It has given us the ability to deliver digital content to anyone anywhere, but more importantly, it’s given us a broader general market in which to compete. It’s allowed people who never self-identified as gamers and let them participate in entertainment that isn’t strictly one-way. It’s given us a challenge on user interface design — gone are the days when you had a 13 button controller to design around, now you have to think about touch, 3D, motion sensing, Augmented Reality, and a litany of input devices. The most important thing for us is the ubiquity of smartphones. For CMP, we can reach anyone, anywhere, at a time that is convenient for them.

    Michael: How are you using gamification with Change My Path?

    Zack: Gamification for us is split into two parts. 1) Taking educational content and making it engaging and fun. There is a wealth of experience in this particular endeavor from the old Oregon Trail and Carmen San Diego games I used to play as a kid to the content done by Broderbund, The Learning Company, and many others. The question hasn’t yet been answered if this kind of content can be educationally transformative. In other words, does it leave a lasting impact on peoples’ lives? Could it? We think it can. We think that the content has, with no offense intended to others in the space, been designed primarily by educators rather than entertainers.

    Everything we know about learning is that it works best when people are engaged and yet, we think it perfectly natural, as adults, to pay tuition to an institution of higher learning and, once the tuition is paid, it becomes our job to learn rather than their job to teach. The engagement factor goes to 0. What happens when content gets subjected to an open market, where people get to make decisions about learning that engages them first? Where the content isn’t simply a lecture and a quiz?

    We live in an age with some incredible interactive entertainment but so little of that content has peripheral learning engaged, or value beyond simply being entertaining. There is virtue in pure entertainment, but there is also virtue in using the skills we have learned as an industry to help bring someone job skills or knowledge that will help them better their lives. And 2) It is about taking the process of the consumption of educational content and adding gamification to it.

    This is not particularly innovative, but it has, to my knowledge, not been done well before. There are some parts of this that exist in different platforms that are out there, but most of those platforms fall short on understanding the motivation loop that is the foundation and driver of the gaming industry: action, value, outcome. In our example, taking a class is the action, learning something is the value, but where is the outcome? Most of us don’t learn just to learn — it’s a noble pursuit, learning for learning’s sake, but it’s a conceit primarily reserved for the privileged. Most of us take a class so we can learn something so we can get a job, a promotion, or benefit our career. We may be one of the first to take classic gaming compulsion loops and apply it to progression through content that has secondary value.

    Michael: Who’s your target audience for this app?

    Zack: Anyone who wants to learn a new skill. Our first foray as we build this platform will be focused on nursing. We chose it mainly because we felt that we needed to prove efficacy right away. Nursing has a certification board exam that is required before you become a nurse and we wanted to have a hard metric that we could use to prove that we were helping people build the right knowledge and skills.

    After that initial test, we’ll roll it out to other job skills. We are focusing on people that might be looking for a career path that doesn’t require them to run up $60K in debt in order to obtain a degree that doesn’t actually deliver them job skills that help them start a career. Maybe it’s a single mom who wants to get out of food service but can’t leave her day job in order to attend school and doesn’t have the time for night school while she raises her children. Maybe it’s a man stuck in a dead end job that has the motivation but not the means to attend a technical college. Maybe it’s a young man or woman who doesn’t know what they want to do quite yet, but they know that they want to get a job that pays reasonably well and don’t want to rack up 20 years worth of debt in the process.

    This is about making education affordable again and attempting to divorce the legitimacy of education from an antiquated brick and mortar building where your money is going into manicured lawns and marble buildings instead of curriculum development and skills training. Further, we can use mobile analytics and data modeling to refine our content on a much more immediate basis instead of whenever the “new” textbook that your Sociology professor wrote gets reprinted at $150 a pop.

    Michael: What type of reception have you had from VCs thus far?

    Zack: Generally positive. This idea is big and scary and that’s intimidating for some. Some wanted to see more proof that we can do what we say we can do. But we’ve had others that saw the vision and wanted to participate in re-engineering the American Dream and making it accessible again for the middle class. We didn’t need everyone to believe, we just needed the first one. Once that happened, we started the business of making education accessible.

    Michael: What are your short-term goals for this app?

    Zack: We think that BarBri has a great model. They teach want-to-be lawyers how to pass the bar. We’d like to teach want-to-be nurses to pass the NCLEX. By aiding in the acquisition and retention of crucial information, we’ll improve the quality of health care and the quality of nurses coming into the system.

    Michael: Where do you see your company five years from now?

    Zack: Ideally, I’d love to see us expand to all sorts of job and skills training, anything from mechanics and plumbers, to hair stylists and paralegals and corporate job training. In particular, I get excited when I think about where technology and this concept enables us to go. Specifically, I love the possibilities of virtual reality and augmented reality.

    Since Lawnmower Man and the Star Trek holodeck, I have always thought about where education could really find a home in these kinds of devices and experiences. We also have an opportunity to explore some long tail curricula — nowadays, the interest level has to be sufficient to support a full class at every institution who takes on a particular subject matter, but digitally, we can find critical mass in a distributed fashion so things that couldn’t be taught before, because it wasn’t efficient enough, could be taught now.

    The fringes of the applications of this platform are really interesting to me — what if, as a way to directly reduce recidivism in ex-cons returning to society, we gave them a skill, a trade, as a condition of parole. Study after study has shown that a major driving cause of recidivism is the inability to find work upon re-entry. What does it do to poor communities where crime is prevalent to reduce recidivism by 10 or 20%? What does it do to those same communities when you can help educate young women who have, historically speaking, always been the driver behind breaking the cycle of poverty?

    Where do I see us? The internet is ubiquitous now, even in developing countries. In my dreams, I see us changing the nature of poor communities across the US and elsewhere in the world, bringing education and job skills to people that need it. Realistically speaking, if we just do it for 1 person at a time, that is progress. I don’t know how many it will take until critical mass helps those communities shift out of direct poverty, but I’ll bet it’s fewer people than have played Candy Crush. I don’t think that’s too crazy of a goal.

    Michael: What opportunities do you see new micro-consoles and other technology that’s connecting mobile devices to the big screen TV opening up for apps like this?

    Zack: This really isn’t our focus. I think micro-consoles are interesting, but it’s just shifting where the computing power sits. Whether it be in your home or in the cloud, the key to the home and to peoples’ attention is the quality of the content. Most people don’t care deeply about the platform they’re using to access that content, unless it specifically requires an interface or input that isn’t available somewhere else. In our industry, I think we get too caught up in platform rhetoric and lose sight of the fact that content is king.

    In the education world, this lesson has been particularly slow to take root. Hopefully, that is not for much longer.

    Santa Rosa, San Rafael, Napa make list of top-performing cities

    By James Dunn

    Santa Rosa ranked No. 25 and San Rafael No. 23 on a 2015 index by the Milken Institute of best-performing large cities on job growth, wage gains and technology trends that promote growth, and Napa ranked No. 16 among small cities.

    California had six of the top 25 slots among large metropolitan areas, with four in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the report (best-cities.org). San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara claimed the top spot, fueled by strong technology innovation, both hardware and software.

    Sync or Swim Blog Series #4

    Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education
    By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads

    Something extremely exciting is afoot! It’s not Santa’s reindeer landing on your roof, or a contractor patching up a leak, it’s The Town of Novato, who are raising the bar on Innovation in Educational for all of Marin.

    I heard rumor that the Teen-focused Intel Clubhouse and the New Media Learning on 3rd street in San Rafael were moving because the building sold. That seemed tragic to me as this resource had brought amazing experiential and project-based learning in technology, media and crafts to an enormous number of students in Marin, building their competence and confidence. My curiosity overtook me; I needed to know what was up… So….I called John MacLeod who founded and runs the Clubhouse and New Media Learning (NML).

    When I caught up with John, he informed me about some really exciting news!

    Turns out, that John is forming a MAKERSPACE in Novato at the Hamilton Base, which is 1/3 larger than the NML’s previous location, and wherein they will move into during December.

    For this new space, John has been extremely busy forming a ground-breaking set of interdependent partnerships between The Novato School District, Marin County Public Library, the Marin County Office of Education, the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, Maker-Ed, The Buck Institute, and Autodesk, just to start with. Holy Guacamole!

    This group is going to call this improved facility the Community Education Center (CEC) and it includes three buildings – the Maker Lab, the Novato Unified School District Media Center and the South Novato Library – all set on beautiful grounds, abundant parking, trees, outdoor hangout areas and much more.

    The Open House festivity is scheduled for January 29th and 30th the time is TBD and shall be in all three buildings. Classes will start the 1st week of the New Year, times and dates TBD.

    The Makerspace Lab shall be a unique public community MAKER space for students, teachers and families developing projects and lessons to be distributed through Novato schools and within each of the 13 outlets of the Marin County Public Libraries. The new library at the CEC was just built. John envisions expanding into a larger space across the street within two years.

    All of the CEC’s Programs are meant to create more opportunities for all young people to develop confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) and learning as a whole through making. The activities are meant to encourage community engagement with adults and families in a fun active place for collaborative work. There are seven program areas: The Intel Computer Clubhouse (focused on collaborative media production, social media, technology and content creation and curation), Making in the Classroom (which includes woodworking, metallurgy, sowing, fashion design and more), Adult Education, MCOE Regional Occupation Programs, Independent Study Sessions, Special Education Sessions and Family & Community Events.

    For clarity, here’s some background on each of the CEC Groups…

    New Media Learning and the Marin County of Education shall provide innovative, collaborative educational programs for the youth in Marin County. New Media Learning programs are based on access, media and technology. They provide engaging learning environments which foster collaboration for playing and creating at the Intel Computer Clubhouse. They’ve also built a very interactive social-networked style environment for youth to share media face to face, through the web, and across devices, through the creation of programming and shows, as well as via their teen publication called “Fastforward.” These students are part of the Young Makers and MAKER.ED Initiative, which has the mission to create more opportunities for all young people to develop leadership, confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, math, art, and learning as a whole through making.

    The Intel Clubhouse Network is a project of the Museum of Science, Boston in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, and is excited about operating after-school programs for youth.

    The CEC will make use of NML and the Intel Clubhouse’s high quality computers, 3D printers, word working, metallurgy, textiles and sowing and are expanding this year into using laser cutters. This past Bioneers, this group of students produced the videos for the conference and the web sharing their work with 100s of 1000s of viewers.

    Making In The Classroom is a collaborative effort among Maker Educators and Teachers in the Novato Unified School District to bring hands on, project-based learning to students and professional development to teachers.

    This Making in the Classroom is considered a pilot project and shall present Maker lessons that satisfy California Common Core requirements and Next Generation Science Standards (as they become applicable). Maker lessons emphasize seeking innovative solutions to problems, using materials in unique ways, and preparing children for an ever-changing learning environment. Project times would include school day trips and after-school activities 3:30 – 6 pm, Monday – Friday.

    After 6pm and on Weekends, the CEC will provide an Adult Education program to retrain adults to learn the technology and skills needed to be active members in a society based on 21st century skills of communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.

    The Marin ROP Media Center as part of the MCOE Regional Occupation Program will have classes which allow high school students to earn high school credits, as well as articulating class work for community college credit. The curriculum will follow the STEM-A (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math through Art) as its model. Each class is required to have an industry approved advisory committee for feedback on industry standards and employer expectations. These classes run Monday- Friday afternoons.

    John has also developed individualized (Independent Study) for STEAM and MEDIA learning for self-motivated and self-directed students in a project-based learning environment for high school students. These programs are scheduled throughout the week based on the individual students needs.

    And on specific weekdays (TBD), the CEC is also offering Special Education STEAM and MEDIA classes for youth with leaning differences.

    Finally, the CEC will have fun Family & Community Events on select evenings and weekends.

    As the Community Education Center is just forming this truly innovative cross-sector educational startup, please consider contacting John MacLeod at john@newmedialearning.org to get involved.

    Sync or Swim Blog Series #3

    Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education
    By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads

    One of the Bay Area’s fastest Ed-tech startups is the MV (Mill Valley) Code Club (http://www.mvcodeclub.com), a social venture founded by programmer and entrepreneur Doug Tarr.

    Prior to founding the club, Doug had been up in Seattle working at a successful startup called PayScale (a Human Capital Platform) serving as the VP of Consumer Product and Chief Architect. As the company sold and Doug was transitioning to an Advisory role, he and his wife decided to move back to her home town of Mill Valley.

    Cut to October in 2013, his son was 14 and on a local soccer team, and while practice was ending one day, several other parents (whose kids were all passionately interested in coding and MineCraft), encouraged Doug to teach the kids how to code. So, all of a sudden there were 12 kids sitting around his dining room table and he was teaching them to use a simple coding program called Scratch, as well as some Javascript. Eight weeks later, all 12 of those kids wanted to keep going. And, by that time, many other families had heard about his intimate Mill Valley Coding Club and the membership spiked from a dozen kids to 40. At that point, Doug’s wife told him he had to find a new space — LOL!

    So, he rented a location in downtown Mill Valley with the intention of helping create a space for tweens and young teens vs high school kids, which would be safe, exciting and social, and would create a fun environment to learn how to code. His vision was to make MV Coders into a digital guild in which high school students could be paid staff and share their skills as journeyman, with the members being the apprentices, and where Doug and other coding professionals from Stanford, Google and other places would serve as the “sort of” masters.

    Doug hired the high schoolers with the intention of keeping a balanced 4:1 apprentice to journeyman ratio so that each child could get the attention that they needed to succeed. Doug offered, “So much of our real estate and time is dedicated to sports, but so little is given to technology, and that so many kids love tech, games and robotics. These were the kids that ended to work at home with headphones on, away from their friends. I wanted to create a physical space for those kids who loved coding and tech, and wanted to be around other kids just like themselves, and also to have instructors guiding them shoulder to shoulder vs being the sage on the stage. This type of project-based learning of code enabled it to be driven by the students vs being dictated and broadcast at them from the teacher, which takes the fun out of it.”

    Today, MV Code Club has expanded to 300 apprentice members, with 3 locations in Mill Valley, Greenbrae and San Francisco. Members can learn to program, develop a game, make a website, or build a robot. The club houses teach: Scratch for understanding the logic of coding using simple digital blocks; HTML5 and Javascript to learn how to create websites and user interfaces; Arduino to learn how to code to make robots; Java for backend database creation; Unity to make apps which can be sold in the Apple or Google Play Stores; Wix to quickly make websites from templates, and much more.

    Doug’s larger plan is to have clubs in each town within Marin, so that members can walk to the local MV Code Club in their community vs having to get in a car. “We drive far too much in California and need to find ways of easing the stress on parents,” Doug stated with a thoughtful smile. The Club allows kids to learn with their friends, side by side, in collaboration, share together to build deeper more developed relationships vs just individually watching a screen and trying to learn on your own. In terms of expansion, the two of us discussed potentially having an office in one of the old 5th grade classrooms at the School Street location in Fairfax, which have 9 schools within walking distance.

    MV Code Club also has been producing after-school programs at Mark Day and MPMS(Marin Primary Middle School) private middle schools within Marin. Last year, he also opened a SF location as here was such a demand from many schools for such an after-school coding program and is now working with Berkeley School, Finbar, SF Day and a few others.

    The Club also provides members exclusive field trips into the large tech companies of SF such as IGN (San Francisco-based games and entertainment media company); so that members can, first hand, see and learn about the types of jobs and cultures that type of places have, igniting their curiosity and interest in what a future job in the tech industry might look like.

    Now, MV Code Club is not a boys-only club. In terms of girls, the staff quickly realized that some girls learned and shared in a different manner than the young lads, so they decided to also offer girls-only sessions at the 3 locations. Girls seeing coding and technology as part of their identity at a young age is really important to help them succeed in our quickly evolving techno-communication world. They hope that they will grow up, and continue to pursue a passion for technology, and serve as role models for younger kid entering the tech field.

    Many of the students are creating robots, and apps, which they are selling in the app store, building websites and much more. So, these projects also fuel their entrepreneurship zeal. Indeed, many students’ apps are selling on the Apple and Google App store already and several of the students have formed companies with their parents.

    In grammar and middle-school, students learn math, reading and writing but they don’t learn how to code. In the coming year, MV Code Club will also be offering teacher-based professional development services, as many teachers have requested that they provide such.

    Currently, MV Code Club is looking for Title local Marin Sponsors to fund membership scholarships for more kids to join and have the opportunity to learn this new language and to create pathways for entrepreneurship.

    MEF Newsletter 12-15

    MEF Newsletter

    December 2015


    Perspectives by MEF CEO Steve Lockett, MBA
    Planning for 2016

    Happy Holidays Everyone! As we wrap up 2015 and make our way into 2016, I’m very excited about the work Marin Economic Forum will be doing next year. As you are probably aware, Marin Economic Forum has four “Working Groups,” each around specific targeted industries that get together on a regular basis to discuss issues and current affairs that affect the residents, businesses and communities in Marin. The four groups are: Technology Entrepreneurs; Destination Management; Construction Development / Commercial Real Estate, and; Finance Industry. Each Working Group includes members of MEF’s Board of Directors, as well as business representatives and individuals that are personally invested in the Working Group targeted industries areas. In 2016, each Working Group will be working on specific projects that will produce tangible outcomes that align with the mission of MEF. As the Working Groups determine their projects and goals in early 2016 you will be able to find these updates in our monthly newsletter and on our website.

    As I have mentioned in the past, 2016 will be a big year for the life sciences in Marin. We have a growing life science cluster in Marin, based in San Rafael and Novato, and Marin Economic Forum will be working diligently to promote and expand this cluster next year. We will be engaging with all of the life science companies, as well as those entities that support life science companies. And of course we will be actively engaged in promoting the Marin life science cluster at BIO 2016 in June.

    In 2016 Marin Economic Forum will be working to expand our outreach efforts, including speaking engagements, enhanced utilization of our webpage and social media outlets, and increasing the number of partners that engage with MEF. If you would like for someone from Marin Economic Forum to give a presentation to your business, organization or community group, please reach out to me at lockett@marineconomicforum.org.

    These are all efforts that will take a lot of work and effort from MEF staff, but our organization is perfectly positioned to accomplish these goals in 2016. We will of course continue to keep all of Marin informed of economic trends that affect our community, and will be working with our partners on issues that continue to be of the utmost importance to Marin, including workforce housing and transportation.

    I hope everyone has a happy Holiday season, and we look forward to working with all of you in 2016. I know that together we will accomplish wonderful things.

    Happy Holidays

    Feature Article

    Dr. Robert Eyler
    Chief Economist
    Marin Economic Forum

    As 2015 comes to a close, Marin County remains one of the most vibrant economies in California, regardless of size. Its mix of industries, income levels, education, housing, and aesthetics make this economy and place unique. The unemployment rate is in the low 3’s, a testament to both Marin County’s demography and its proximity to San Francisco. Marin County’s personal income level per capita is the highest in California by almost $20,000 per person; this means retail sales and home prices rival larger population counties. Marin County’s economy is continues its emergence from the 2008-10 recession and continues to be a place businesses of many types, mainly smaller businesses, want to locate. With global economic projections falling slightly and interest rates likely to rise a bit, Marin County remains in a great position to welcome new businesses from a more costly city to the south due to available space and an equally-skilled labor force.

    2016 is a year where momentum built in Marin County’s life-sciences industry will have a huge boost. The world conference of biological science, called BIO 2016, is coming to San Francisco in June of next year. This is a great time to showcase what can happen in the county economy in terms of supporting businesses that hire scientists, lab technicians, accounting, legal, administrative staff, and remain close to the world center of biotech and pharmaceutical research in the greater Bay Area. This is really Marin County’s best bet as a foray into technology-driven businesses, and the government and community partnerships (San Rafael and Novato have become models for this now in the United States) to support life-science business growth are great stories to tell.

    We have elections coming in 2016 that may change the face of our local and national leadership, as well as change the way we pay workers regionally and the agriculture we grow. Drought continues to be a factor in our lives across the state of California, and Marin County has made many adjustments that are helping to conserve resources. Home prices are now up and conserving wealth, and we have emerged from the grip of recession. 2016 will be an intriguing year of continued growth (at least currently forecasted) for the state and national economy, rising interest rates for the first time since late 2008, and some socioeconomic challenges that will shape Marin County toward 2020. As an economist, I look forward to watching Marin County continue to grow and find niche in a burgeoning, regional marketplace.

    Calendar of Events
    December

  • 9 — Destination Management Meeting
  • 9 — Technology Entrepreneurs Meeting
  • January

  • 1 — Happy New Year
  • 6 — Construction Development/Commercial Real Estate Meeting
  • 6 — Finance Industry Meeting
  • Sync or Swim Series #4

    Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education
    By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads

    Spotlighting Marin-based Innovations in Education

    Something extremely exciting is afoot! It’s not Santa’s reindeer landing on your roof, or a contractor patching up a leak, it’s The Town of Novato, who are raising the bar on Innovation in Educational for all of Marin.

    I heard rumor that the Teen-focused Intel Clubhouse and the New Media Learning on 3rd street in San Rafael were moving because the building sold. That seemed tragic to me as this resource had brought amazing experiential and project-based learning in technology, media and crafts to an enormous number of students in Marin, building their competence and confidence. My curiosity overtook me; I needed to know what was up… So….I called John MacLeod who founded and runs the Clubhouse and New Media Learning (NML).

    When I caught up with John, he informed me about some really exciting news!

    Turns out, that John is forming a MAKERSPACE in Novato at the Hamilton Base, which is 1/3 larger than the NML’s previous location, and wherein they will move into during December.

    For this new space, John has been extremely busy forming a ground-breaking set of interdependent partnerships between The Novato School District, Marin County Public Library, the Marin County Office of Education, the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, Maker-Ed, The Buck Institute, and Autodesk, just to start with. Holy Guacamole!

    This group is going to call this improved facility the Community Education Center (CEC) and it includes three buildings – the Maker Lab, the Novato Unified School District Media Center and the South Novato Library – all set on beautiful grounds, abundant parking, trees, outdoor hangout areas and much more.

    The Open House festivity is scheduled for January 29th and 30th the time is TBD and shall be in all three buildings. Classes will start the 1st week of the New Year, times and dates TBD.

    The Makerspace Lab shall be a unique public community MAKER space for students, teachers and families developing projects and lessons to be distributed through Novato schools and within each of the 13 outlets of the Marin County Public Libraries. The new library at the CEC was just built. John envisions expanding into a larger space across the street within two years.

    All of the CEC’s Programs are meant to create more opportunities for all young people to develop confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) and learning as a whole through making. The activities are meant to encourage community engagement with adults and families in a fun active place for collaborative work. There are seven program areas: The Intel Computer Clubhouse (focused on collaborative media production, social media, technology and content creation and curation), Making in the Classroom (which includes woodworking, metallurgy, sowing, fashion design and more), Adult Education, MCOE Regional Occupation Programs, Independent Study Sessions, Special Education Sessions and Family & Community Events.

    For clarity, here’s some background on each of the CEC Groups…

    New Media Learning and the Marin County of Education shall provide innovative, collaborative educational programs for the youth in Marin County. New Media Learning programs are based on access, media and technology. They provide engaging learning environments which foster collaboration for playing and creating at the Intel Computer Clubhouse. They’ve also built a very interactive social-networked style environment for youth to share media face to face, through the web, and across devices, through the creation of programming and shows, as well as via their teen publication called “Fastforward.” These students are part of the Young Makers and MAKER.ED Initiative, which has the mission to create more opportunities for all young people to develop leadership, confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, math, art, and learning as a whole through making.

    The Intel Clubhouse Network is a project of the Museum of Science, Boston in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, and is excited about operating after-school programs for youth.

    The CEC will make use of NML and the Intel Clubhouse’s high quality computers, 3D printers, word working, metallurgy, textiles and sowing and are expanding this year into using laser cutters. This past Bioneers, this group of students produced the videos for the conference and the web sharing their work with 100s of 1000s of viewers.

    Making In The Classroom is a collaborative effort among Maker Educators and Teachers in the Novato Unified School District to bring hands on, project-based learning to students and professional development to teachers.

    This Making in the Classroom is considered a pilot project and shall present Maker lessons that satisfy California Common Core requirements and Next Generation Science Standards (as they become applicable). Maker lessons emphasize seeking innovative solutions to problems, using materials in unique ways, and preparing children for an ever-changing learning environment. Project times would include school day trips and after-school activities 3:30 – 6 pm, Monday – Friday.

    After 6pm and on Weekends, the CEC will provide an Adult Education program to retrain adults to learn the technology and skills needed to be active members in a society based on 21st century skills of communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.

    The Marin ROP Media Center as part of the MCOE Regional Occupation Program will have classes which allow high school students to earn high school credits, as well as articulating class work for community college credit. The curriculum will follow the STEM-A (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math through Art) as its model. Each class is required to have an industry approved advisory committee for feedback on industry standards and employer expectations. These classes run Monday- Friday afternoons.

    John has also developed individualized (Independent Study) for STEAM and MEDIA learning for self-motivated and self-directed students in a project-based learning environment for high school students. These programs are scheduled throughout the week based on the individual students needs.

    And on specific weekdays (TBD), the CEC is also offering Special Education STEAM and MEDIA classes for youth with leaning differences.

    Finally, the CEC will have fun Family & Community Events on select evenings and weekends.

    As the Community Education Center is just forming this truly innovative cross-sector educational startup, please consider contacting John MacLeod at john@newmedialearning.org to get involved.

    MEF Newsletter 11-15

    MEF Newsletter

    November 2015


    Perspectives by MEF CEO Steve Lockett, MBA
    Steve LockettMarin’s Economy

    Happy November, everyone! As 2015 comes to a close, it’s a good time to look back at the economy in Marin County for 2015, and look forward to how our economy may evolve in the future. To that end, I would like to draw your attention to Marin Economic Forum’s 2015 Fall Economic Bulletin for Marin County, compiled by Dr. Robert Eyler, MEF’s Chief Economist. The Bulletin was presented by Dr. Eyler at this year’s Forecasting the Future Economic Conference, held October 29th 2015 in San Rafael, hosted by the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce and MEF. In addition to in-depth analysis of Marin County’s economy, the Economic Bulletin also includes reports on the California and US economies, which MEF has compiled with assistance from Dr. Jon Haveman of Marin Economic Consulting. While I won’t spoil the Economic Bulletin for you, and I encourage everyone to read it, you will be pleased to know that Marin remains one of the most vibrant economies in all of California. Employment growth continues, and Marin’s unemployment rate is the lowest in California, at 3.4 percent. Marin’s personal income level, per capita, also puts us at the top in California, higher than the next county by almost $20,000 per person! To read the full Economic Bulletin on our website, please go to this link.

    Another report that has just been finalized and is of utmost importance to us at Marin Economic Forum and, I believe, to the entire County, is the Marin County Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). This document is a culmination of 18 months of work, with MEF engaging its partners, stakeholders and Marin residents to examine Marin County’s businesses and communities. The completed CEDS report provides a reference for economic conditions, strategies and projects from across Marin. We will be using this document heavily in 2016 in our work, including a review of our targeted industries for Marin. The CEDS report is also important in another way, in that we have submitted it to the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) for their review and “certification,” which will not only showcase Marin’s efforts in maintaining a robust economic ecosystem to a national audience, but also opens up the possibility of the County applying for EDA grants or even designation by the EDA as an Economic Development District (EDD). We are extremely pleased with how the CEDS report came out, and if you’d like to read it yourself, it can be found on our website here.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Come back next month when I will be reviewing Marin Economic Forum’s strategies for 2016.

    What To Watch

    Board Corner

    Nina H. Gardner, J.D.Nina H. Gardner, J.D.
    Partner & Executive Vice President
    Filice Insurance Agency

    Nina H. Gardner, J.D. is Partner and Executive Vice President with Filice Insurance Agency. In addition to being on the executive team, Nina is in charge of strategic benefit planning for her clients, relationship management and oversight of new client acquisition. Filice Insurance is a large full-service employee benefits consultancy, serving public and private companies and non-profits, ranging from early stage venture-backed startups to publicly traded companies with 5,000 employees. Filice has more than 2,200 clients in the Bay Area representing almost any industry and has offices in San Rafael, Moraga, Sacramento, San Jose and Irvine.

    Nina has a background as an employment law attorney and worked for Littler as well as Sedgwick, both large national firms. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature and English Literature from U.C. Berkeley and a J.D. from Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall) at U.C. Berkeley.

    In October of 2015, Nina made Employee Benefits Adviser’s list of 2015 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising. Nina attributes her success to the strong, close relationships she has with her clients. She finds it results in her having a personal investment in the success of their benefit program and their level of satisfaction. http://bit.ly/1GfpkF2

    Outside of work, Nina dedicates countless hours to her community and non-profit efforts. About 4 years ago, Nina Gardner, Pete Woodring with Cypress Partners and Franka Winchester with Pacific Crest Group founded Marin Business Forum which is a platform for education and collaboration for the Marin business community. They hold 4 annual events. About 1 1/2/ years ago, Marin Business Forum became Marin Economic Forum’s educational arm. www.marinbusinessforum.com

    In 2014, Nina founded 100MARIN with 10 other companies. 100MARIN is a circle of like-minded, philanthropic individuals who are dedicated to enhancing support and awareness of Marin County nonprofits. In its first year, 100MARIN raised over $60,000 for local non-profits and is planning on expanding its reach in 2016. The next event will be held at the Buck Institute in Novato on March 10, 2016 from 6 pm to 8 pm. Please go to www.100MARIN.org to register. 100MARIN is now the philanthropic arm of Marin Economic Forum.

    Outside of work and community involvement, Nina enjoys her time with her two children and has a passion for running, yoga, SUP, and mountain biking. Nina resides in Kentfield with her children.
    You can reach Nina at nina@filice.com or 415-717-8583.

    Feature Article

    Discover West Marin Project
    By Frank Borodic, Proprietor
    The Inn at Roundstone Farms

    It’s not unusual for visitors in West Marin to lose their way while trying to locate points of interest, public restrooms, gas stations and local visitor serving businesses. Visitors are more likely to return and relay to others the wonderful time they had while visiting the area, if they are able to find sites and resources which interest them; however, providing such visitor serving products as a business directory and map is a challenge for the small business community in West Marin. The last directory was printed five years ago and was only the second in 15 years.

    Early in 2015, the West Marin Chamber of Commerce was approached by the Marin Renaissance Entrepreneur Center expressing interest in providing entrepreneurship training and support to the businesses of West Marin. After three months of meetings, it was agreed that a business directory/ map would have the greatest positive impact on the region. Two projects were launched: A business directory/map, and entrepreneur training to Spanish-speaking workers. These workers have been displaced following the closure of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm; a project worked jointly with West Marin Community Services. Both projects were funded by a $30,000 Wells Fargo grant in support for rural businesses.

    20,000 copies of the directory/map have been printed and are being distributed by members of the West Marin Chamber of Commerce and regional visitor centers.

    The experience has shown that much more can be done in support of the small businesses of West Marin when organizations work together towards achieving a common goal.

    Sync or Swim Series #3

    Spotlighting the Best Marinnovations™ in Education
    By Michael Leifer, CEO Guerilla PR / Ecodads

    Spotlighting Marin-based Innovations in Education

    One of the Bay Area’s fastest Ed-tech startups is the MV (Mill Valley) Code Club (http://www.mvcodeclub.com), a social venture founded by programmer and entrepreneur Doug Tarr.

    Prior to founding the club, Doug had been up in Seattle working at a successful startup called PayScale (a Human Capital Platform) serving as the VP of Consumer Product and Chief Architect. As the company sold and Doug was transitioning to an Advisory role, he and his wife decided to move back to her home town of Mill Valley.

    Cut to October in 2013, his son was 14 and on a local soccer team, and while practice was ending one day, several other parents (whose kids were all passionately interested in coding and MineCraft), encouraged Doug to teach the kids how to code. So, all of a sudden there were 12 kids sitting around his dining room table and he was teaching them to use a simple coding program called Scratch, as well as some Javascript. Eight weeks later, all 12 of those kids wanted to keep going. And, by that time, many other families had heard about his intimate Mill Valley Coding Club and the membership spiked from a dozen kids to 40. At that point, Doug’s wife told him he had to find a new space — LOL!

    So, he rented a location in downtown Mill Valley with the intention of helping create a space for tweens and young teens vs high school kids, which would be safe, exciting and social, and would create a fun environment to learn how to code. His vision was to make MV Coders into a digital guild in which high school students could be paid staff and share their skills as journeyman, with the members being the apprentices, and where Doug and other coding professionals from Stanford, Google and other places would serve as the “sort of” masters.

    Doug hired the high schoolers with the intention of keeping a balanced 4:1 apprentice to journeyman ratio so that each child could get the attention that they needed to succeed. Doug offered, “So much of our real estate and time is dedicated to sports, but so little is given to technology, and that so many kids love tech, games and robotics. These were the kids that ended to work at home with headphones on, away from their friends. I wanted to create a physical space for those kids who loved coding and tech, and wanted to be around other kids just like themselves, and also to have instructors guiding them shoulder to shoulder vs being the sage on the stage. This type of project-based learning of code enabled it to be driven by the students vs being dictated and broadcast at them from the teacher, which takes the fun out of it.”

    Today, MV Code Club has expanded to 300 apprentice members, with 3 locations in Mill Valley, Greenbrae and San Francisco. Members can learn to program, develop a game, make a website, or build a robot. The club houses teach: Scratch for understanding the logic of coding using simple digital blocks; HTML5 and Javascript to learn how to create websites and user interfaces; Arduino to learn how to code to make robots; Java for backend database creation; Unity to make apps which can be sold in the Apple or Google Play Stores; Wix to quickly make websites from templates, and much more.

    Doug’s larger plan is to have clubs in each town within Marin, so that members can walk to the local MV Code Club in their community vs having to get in a car. “We drive far too much in California and need to find ways of easing the stress on parents,” Doug stated with a thoughtful smile. The Club allows kids to learn with their friends, side by side, in collaboration, share together to build deeper more developed relationships vs just individually watching a screen and trying to learn on your own. In terms of expansion, the two of us discussed potentially having an office in one of the old 5th grade classrooms at the School Street location in Fairfax, which have 9 schools within walking distance.

    MV Code Club also has been producing after-school programs at Mark Day and MPMS(Marin Primary Middle School) private middle schools within Marin. Last year, he also opened a SF location as here was such a demand from many schools for such an after-school coding program and is now working with Berkeley School, Finbar, SF Day and a few others.

    The Club also provides members exclusive field trips into the large tech companies of SF such as IGN (San Francisco-based games and entertainment media company); so that members can, first hand, see and learn about the types of jobs and cultures that type of places have, igniting their curiosity and interest in what a future job in the tech industry might look like.

    Now, MV Code Club is not a boys-only club. In terms of girls, the staff quickly realized that some girls learned and shared in a different manner than the young lads, so they decided to also offer girls-only sessions at the 3 locations. Girls seeing coding and technology as part of their identity at a young age is really important to help them succeed in our quickly evolving techno-communication world. They hope that they will grow up, and continue to pursue a passion for technology, and serve as role models for younger kid entering the tech field.

    Many of the students are creating robots, and apps, which they are selling in the app store, building websites and much more. So, these projects also fuel their entrepreneurship zeal. Indeed, many students’ apps are selling on the Apple and Google App store already and several of the students have formed companies with their parents.

    In grammar and middle-school, students learn math, reading and writing but they don’t learn how to code. In the coming year, MV Code Club will also be offering teacher-based professional development services, as many teachers have requested that they provide such.

    Currently, MV Code Club is looking for Title local Marin Sponsors to fund membership scholarships for more kids to join and have the opportunity to learn this new language and to create pathways for entrepreneurship.

    Calendar of Events
    November

  • 17th — Women of Industry luncheon
  • 18th — Guppy Tank
  • December

  • 8th — California Competes Workshop
  • 9th — Destination Management Meeting
  • 9th — Technology Entrepreneurs Meeting
  • Marin Supervisor Kinsey says he won’t seek another term

    By Janis Mara

    Steve Kinsey, who has served on the Marin County Board of Supervisors for nearly two decades, confirmed Sunday that he will not run for another term.

    “I’m ready to let the world know I will not be seeking re-election,” Kinsey said in a phone interview.

    Speculation mounted in recent weeks that he might not run, in part because he did little or no fundraising for the June election. Over the weekend, Kinsey privately alerted supporters of his plans.