Akeem Brown, Programs Director for the Hidden Genius Project, believes that "As long as you have the skills and a computer, you can build and change the world." The Hidden Genius Project, an Oakland-based nonprofit dedicated to training and mentoring black male youth in technology creation, is the Oaklandish Nonprofit of the Month for September.
This local nonprofit was founded in 2012 by five black male entrepreneurs and technologists discouraged by high rates of unemployment of black male youth in the Bay Area contrasted with the numerous job opportunities available in the nearby tech industry. To address these inequities, the founders created the Hidden Genius Project to connect underserved, young black males with the needed skills, mentors, and experiences to become high-performing entrepreneurs and technologists in our current global economy. They offer a 15 month-long intensive program of over 800 hours to black male high school students in the Bay Area on software development, computer science, leadership skills, and entrepreneurship so they can then lead transformation within their communities.
Leaders of the program recognize the power in connecting underserved black male youth with STEM skills, and the impact that access can have on local communities. "We don't have to go to San Francisco or to Mountain View to create value," Executive Director, Dr. Brandon Nicholson, says. "We can do it right here in East Oakland. Right in the heart." By designing their own apps and programs, youth from the Hidden Genius Project can make sure more technology actually benefits the people in their communities.
To support this transformative work, Oaklandish is hosting an in-store event at the Oaklandish Dimond shop at (3419 Fruitvale Ave.) on September 16th. You can stop by from 12 to 4 pm to learn more about the Hidden Genius Project, the youth they mentor, and you can shop Oaklandish while benefiting the program. Ten percent of the day's proceeds will be donated directly to the Hidden Genius Project.