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Hidden Genius

“A small mind focuses on the problem; a big mind focuses on a solution to the problem; but a genius mind sees the opportunity that lies in the problem.” This quote, by Kwame Anku, Director of Strategic Development at #YesWeCode, exemplifies the kind of minds the Hidden Genius Project is looking to shape. The quote is not just about becoming educated in code, but being assets to the community by sharing the skill, expanding knowledge on the tech industry, and being able to help others achieve their definition of success.

Photo by Quintin Gellar from Pexels

Silicon Valley is a very different vision of technological advantage compared to Oakland, a 37 minute drive away. Home to many leaders in the industry, Google, Facebook, and Yahoo; Silicon Valley is like a big brother to the less developed Oakland.  Well now it looks as though that big brother has decided to look out for the little one. One way that Silicon Valley is helping others rise in tech knowledge, is by donating to good causes coming out of the nearby city.

It was recently announced at Google’s Tech Slam event in October, that Google will be granting a total of 1 million dollars to the Hidden Genius Project. After being granted $500,000 for becoming finalists in the 2015 Google Impact Challenge, the group managed to serve over 1,700 black male students in the Bay Area.  Through workshops and training for computer science and entrepreneurship, lives have been positively changed, and Google has chosen to continue to sponsor that change.  Particularly, the entity aims to increase the presence of black males in the tech industry.

Based in Oakland, California, The Hidden Genius Project is a program that connects “young black males with the skills, mentors, and experiences that they need to become high-performing entrepreneurs and technologists in a 21st century, global economy.” Founded, directed, and led by 5 black men, this project has existed and begun to flourish for 5 years now.  Students here believe technology can be used as a tool for combating racism, prejudice, and the disadvantages associated with those issues.

“The Hidden Genius Project seeks to reveal the true potential of black male youth and transform their communities from the inside out. Through our student-centered, project-based approach, we invest in young black men, give them access to technology training, and plug them into an ecosystem of innovation and empowerment.” -Hidden Genius Project Website Overview

The project plans to carry out its mission by way of two programs, “Immersion” and “Catalyst”.  Immersion gets students the leadership, entrepreneurship, problem-solving, and computer science training they need; while Catalyst aims to ignite interest and explore career pathways in technology.  Both programs also expose young black males to black males with more tech experience, who are willing to mentor.

Becoming a genius is not easy work. It takes commitment, at least 15 months and 800 hours of it.  It is really a genius bootcamp.  That’s a lot of focus and dedication required of 9th through 11th graders. However, there is no GPA requirement or prior experience with computer science needed. The most important thing to have if you want to be a genius, is enthusiasm to learn and grow.

The Hidden Genius Project is well deserving of this million dollar grant provided by Google. Hopefully this push to have a male minority in the tech industry will spark a generational trend. This project develops successful young men who in turn may help develop other successful young men and create a better world in the process. Hopefully, it will be in operation for many years to come with community support and further outside funding.  It is good to know that Google is rooting for a more diverse tech industry. If you want to have a part in the giving,  you can donate to the Hidden Genius Project by clicking the “Donate” tab at http://www.hiddengeniusproject.org.  Reach out to a tech program in or near your area and watch your impact manifest into greater.

This piece comes to us from one of our talented content contributors, Cynthia Sharpe. Her bio is below and if you would like to work with us you can email us here!

Cynthia M. Sharpe, is a May 2015 graduate of NC State University. Cynthia graduated with a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing and currently aspires to pursue an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. “As I let my own light shine, I unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” -Cynthia M. Sharpe, inspired by Marianne Williamson