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Josh Molina of Makers & Finders Mentors Charter School Students

Josh Molina, founder of Makers & Finders and Board Chair of ThrivePoint Academy Nevada charter school, knows firsthand what it’s like to struggle in traditional school. As a first generation Colombian American who moved to Las Vegas at an early age, his story closely aligns with that of many of our students, making him an empathetic mentor and role model, as well as a valuable leader of our Board. 

Josh Molina and Family Relocate to Las Vegas

When Molina’s family moved from New York City to Las Vegas while he was a young teen, he faced loneliness and disconnection, “It was like culture shock. Las Vegas didn’t have a Colombian community at all.” He had been accustomed to the vibrant city life, the diversity, and a tight-knit Latin American community. Molina couldn’t find a decent empanada anywhere in the city.

What manifested for Molina and many young people who feel a lack of connection was anger. Within a short period of time in traditional school, he was expelled. He thought about how he would still graduate on time, but really had no idea how to go about it. “I kept getting into trouble. It’s not something I’m proud of, but back then I felt a lot of resentment because I didn’t want to move,” Molina explains. 

While playing basketball one day, another player told him about a charter school in the area that might accept him as a student. The boy reassured him that the charter school was free, and could help him make up credits, as he himself went to the school. 

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Next Big Step: Makers & Finders

Molina’s degree was his ticket to a new path, one that led him to his Next Big Step–entrepreneurship. “I wanted to bring some of my culture to Las Vegas, because I missed so many things about it, this just made sense to me.” But his first attempt at opening his own restaurant was a miss. “We initially unsuccessfully pitched the idea of Colombian food cafes to investors, so we had to raise money within our own community of friends and family. Later, we realized that the cafe needed something that resonated with everyone, so we pivoted to the coffee house market, making Colombian style coffee and food that you couldn’t find anywhere in the area.” By using a universal passion as his starting point: coffee, and infusing Colombian culture into it, he could appeal to everyone.
With the enthusiastic support of his community, Molina opened his first Makers & Finders in Las Vegas, to much success. Since then, he has opened several locations, most recently in Henderson and launched a sister cafe called Take it Easy Roasters.

Josh Molina and Mentorship

Molina is passionate about supporting his community and helping mentor young Latino students like himself. “Now is my chance to help other students like me get a start in life.” He tells the story of a young high school student who was inspired by meeting Molina and reached out to him for advice. That young man now works at Makers & Finders cafe. 

Molina sees his Board position at ThrivePoint Academy in Nevada as an excellent opportunity to give back to the charter school community that supported him during a troubled time in his life. “I know what it’s like to struggle, and really feel like ThrivePoint is an excellent place for students to get the extra support they need if they’re having a hard time in school. I’m looking forward to the work we will be doing in the Las Vegas community, particularly among the Latino community.” ThrivePoint is proud to have Josh Molina as Board chair, and is excited to partner with him to help students in Las Vegas beginning fall of 2024. 

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