Bridging the Bronx

Fordham alum brings internet to Bronx residents



Marlin Jenkins, FCRH ’98, aims to provide internet for low income households.


Marlin Jenkins, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’98, is currently a consultant at the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council, a social service organization that offers comprehensive services for seniors in the area. He is also the founder and CEO of Neture, a start-up offering free and low-cost internet access to households in the Bronx. Jenkins believes that the lack of broadband internet “can limit quality of life for all members of the house.” In other words, at Neture, connection is opportunity.

Roughly a year ago, Neture was awarded a grant by Nos Quedamos, a community development corporation in the South Bronx. I spoke with Jenkins to find out how this grant will be used, what inspired the idea and what sets it apart from other platforms. Jenkins reflected on his time at Fordham, particularly in terms of networking, and shared some advice for current business students.

What were the driving forces behind creating Neture?

First, my own experiences being low-income and having limitations. Then, realizing that the cost of living today has far outpaced what I was experiencing, so while people make more money today, money traveled further when I was younger, so we lived better.

I saw a little girl crying to her mom about not being able to finish her homework because the library was closing. Then I saw her mom’s face when she realized that her daughter couldn’t finish her homework at home because they didn’t have internet access at home. That sealed it for me — I’ll never forget that mother’s face, especially as a father.

How do you and your team plan to use the grant from Nos Quedamos?

We are going to build a wide area network in the South Bronx that will stretch from 138th Street to 161st Street and from 3rd Avenue to Grand Concourse.

We will provide free internet in public areas, streets and parks as well as low-cost internet access into the homes and apartments within those communities in and around those buildings. Within each building, we will be providing free access to a resource portal, which will allow those families who are either using another internet provider or can’t afford our low-cost service to still access local resources such as NYC schools, community organizations and healthcare providers.

As Neture develops into a company that charges for its services, how will the company’s goal to equip households with free internet change?

We will always provide free internet to those who cannot afford it, either through partnering buildings or within the community public spaces. Our goal is to always provide free access to either an ad-supported internet experience, or at the very least the resource portal, so that every family will never be without access to the resources needed to achieve success.

Other than providing affordable internet access, how else do you see Neture serving communities and their technological needs?

The resource portal is an important addition to our platform, as it creates a gateway for every family to connect to local resources and other services. While Google and other search engines are great at compiling a variety of resources, they don’t do a very good job at identifying the local resources that many low-income families are looking for to help in a crisis or stressful situation. This portal is a simple, easy to understand, and locally organized resource that any family member can use to find what they need when they need it.

We see this as a win-win-win opportunity for many communities — service providers always have difficulty finding the families in need, primarily due to a lack of engagement or availability when the need is pressing for the family; many families don’t know about all of the opportunities that exist for support within their community, so they fall through the cracks without the help that is needed; and, government spends billions of dollars and much of it is wasted in lack of efficiency, due to the many missed opportunities that occur when programs cannot find families in need and families cannot find programs when in need.

By providing a quick, free, connected and easy-to-use resource portal, we can quickly and efficiently connect families and service providers to each other, thereby saving families and governmental dollars, while increasing programmatic effectiveness. Win-win-win.

How did attending Fordham University impact your career choices and eventually creating your own company?

Fordham was my bridge to the Bronx. Honestly, I didn’t use Fordham as well as I should have because I spent most of my time figuring out what type of person I was, instead of focusing on networking or building bridges from college to career.

But what Fordham did provide for me was safety for the years that I was there. I wasn’t worried about where I was going to eat, or live, or be warm. It provided a reference for what life is like for some versus what it should be like for others. It introduced me to very intelligent young men and women who became great parents and successful entrepreneurs. I guess, all told, Fordham gave me perspective — of life, family, success and open thought.

What advice would you give current students at Fordham?

First, make sure you try everything you can. Experience as much as you can so you can be the best version of yourself. Second, connect with as many people as you can to learn from other people’s experiences. Third, don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want to, if you are willing to commit yourself to it.  Finally, life is not work — don’t lose sight of the balance between life and work.

This interview has been condensed and edited.