As we enter the final week of our crowdfunding campaign, The Great Tech Community Challenge, we had a chance to speak with Sara Sandhu, Development Project Manager at East Bay College Fund, about why she chose to support our effort to expand programming for youth of color.
Her words are a powerful reminder of just how important community building work is, and why we must continue to push to create opportunities for young people.
What's your name and where do you work?
My name is Sara Sandhu, and I'm currently working for East Bay College Fund in Oakland. Hack the Hood is one of our partners!
How does the mission of Hack the Hood - and this campaign - relate to your own career journey?
I, like so many people I know, really struggled to start my career, even after graduating from a university. When I enrolled in a Bioscience program at a local community college, I was part of an awesome cohort of students and introduced to the most incredible faculty I have ever known. I truly credit everyone there for helping me realize my place is in education, and for opening up doors to some incredible professional opportunities.
Why do you think it's important to support this campaign?
Knowing you have a sideline of supporters is such a powerful feeling, and it really does make you feel that you can be anywhere you'd like to be, doing anything you want to do. When I was introduced to Hack the Hood, I was so impressed with the technical skills they help students build, but more importantly, they create a sense of community for our youth. Finding a job in tech can be really difficult, but finding yourself and realizing your passions is even more challenging when the odds are positioned against you. Hack the Hood helps youth overcome these barriers in such meaningful ways. I think the more obvious question is really why wouldn't you support this campaign?
Any advice for young people who are just starting out in their careers?
A mentor is key! I really would not be where I am today with the ambitions I now have set, if I did not have these special people in my life cheering me on and offering great advice along the way.
Give to Sara's team fundraiser for The Great Tech Community Challenge and create more opportunities for youth of color interested in tech today.
We recently asked some young people to tell us how Hack the Hood has impacted their life, as part of our ongoing crowdfunding campaign. Below are some of the inspiring words that youth have shared, and the challenges they've posed to the tech community.
Click here to join The Great Tech Community Challenge and support young people interested in tech!
We're into week three of The Great Tech Community Challenge and so far it's been incredibly inspiring to see so many in our community coming together to support this effort. Most of all, we've loved hearing the stories of why people are raising money to help us deepen our tech programs for youth of color.
One especially moving story comes from Jose Cortez, who started a fundraising team called Los Bots. Jose explains how his passion for this cause is rooted in his own personal experiences:
In 11th grade I was introduced to the idea of a career in technology by a computer teacher named Ms. Neider. She changed my course in life.
People like Jose are the ones fueling The Great Tech Community Challenge - those who believe in young people of color, and who know that they have unlimited potential. We're so grateful to have Jose on our team, and encourage you to support his efforts here!
Or start your own fundraising page by clicking the button below:
Thanks to the donations, fundraising pages, and team efforts of supporters like you, we reached our first big milestone this week - raising over 30% of our $50,000 goal for The Great Tech Community Challenge! And we're still going!
Learn more about the campaign here.
We're also thrilled to announce Backblaze as an official sponsor, and that a certain local baseball team has donated an additional prize for the challenge (more info below).
It's truly awesome to see our community coming together in this way and investing so much in the next generation of tech mavens!
Oakland A's Tickets for Top Fundraisers
This is beyond cool. The Oakland Athletics have answered the call and donated 8 tickets to a home game, for the person or team who raises the most by Nov. 3rd! That's in addition to the incentives we've already spotlighted on the campaign page, including tickets to our Finish Line Party for everyone who raises at least $100.
Get started fundraising now and good luck!
Only a few seats left!
GET PAID TO LEARN!
Earn a stipend and uplevel your skills two-session workshop at WordPress. Learn how to configure WordPress sites and train others.
WordPress is used by 70% of the world’s web sites and is one of the most used open source platforms in the world.
Join Hack the Hood staff and members—along with experienced WordPress developers—for a FREE 2-part program at Automatic headquarters in San Francisco, CA learning how to create and configure WordPress sites.
SIGN UP HERE
(space is limited!)
Dates of Sessions (please plan to attend both) will be:
Snacks and food will be offered at both trainings; please bring a computer or Chromebook with you (or notify Hack the Hood staff if you need one).
This is a hands-on course, with individual and group instruction, led by Automattic and WordPress.com instructors. The program will be very interactive and full of practical information & exercises, and participants will have the opportunity to ask questions during the course as well as have their work checked. The goals of this program are to teach you the core skills you will need to select, set up and configure WordPress themes for clients, and show you how to teach others these skills.
NOTE: Students who participate in both sessions are eligible for transportation reimbursement and a $135.00 stipend for program participation
For more information, contact Lyn Muldow, firstname.lastname@example.org,
by Rose DeLeon-Foote
The San Francisco Bay Area is known for its amazing culture. San Francisco and Oakland, in particular, are where city culture and identity is based around a distinct mixture of identities that often goes beyond racial or economic expectations. The neighborhoods, the music, the style, and the food (to say the least) are able to be here because of the most important and beautiful part, the people.
As tech has settled into the Bay Area, conversations on diversity, gentrification, tech inclusivity and education have spread among the locals. While tech moving in definitely presents benefits for the general economy of the Bay, there are many troubling phenomenon trailing along with it that are pushing out the amazing people who make the Bay what it is. This modern colonization has led to the creation of organizations, like Hack the Hood, who attempt to shift the balance of benefit back towards the center of the racial and socioeconomic spectrum.
Workforce development is the strategy many industries are using to increase access to well-paying skilled jobs for low income people of color. Local healthcare providers, in particular, have been making strides in planning workforce partnerships in an effort to increase hiring men of color in skilled positions with potential for promotions and living wages. Thinking about what strategies the healthcare industry is taking can help tech leaders see what engaging with communities and organizations looks like, and can help tech take initiative in working towards more diversity and inclusivity.
The following are three things happening in healthcare that can help tech in its path towards diversity and inclusion:
Note: Rose DeLeon-Foote recently relocated to the Raleigh-Durham area after working with Hack the Hood for a little over a year in a number of different roles. She completed her Master's degree in Public Policy from Mills in May, and has a Bachelor's in English from Berkeley. She has a career background in nonprofit program management, database administration and analysis, as well as, research and program facilitation; her graduate thesis was on facilitating pathways to healthcare careers for low-income men of color.
Want to support Hack the Hood's work to make tech more inclusive? Take part in The Great Tech Community Challenge, a 30-day campaign to raise money for year-round youth programming!
by Mary Fuller, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer
Hack the Hood is hitting two organizational milestones this week - the culmination of projects that have been in the works for months, and which deserve celebrating!
Yesterday we launched our brand new website at hackthehood.org! We did this one internally and almost everyone on staff offered something to make it great. We think it represents the richness of our organization and our offerings and hope you agree.
Here are some highlights of what you’ll find on the new site:
This will be a living document and more improvements are on their way, including fresh profiles of youth, staff, volunteers, and donors. Please keep an eye out.
Thanks to Imran Siddiquee, Danielle Dynes, Richard Something, and everyone who contributed.
The Great Tech Community Challenge
The second milestone we’re celebrating is the launch of our first peer-to-peer crowdfunding campaign. This represents our first call out to our broader community to support the amazing young people in our community. We’re asking you to show your support either through a direct donation, or even better, by setting up your own fundraising page and challenging your friends to pitch in to support opportunities for low-income youth and small businesses across Northern California.
Special thanks to Imran Siddiquee, Jonathan Darr King, Isaias Rodriguez for helping put together the campaign and video, as well as all the folks who appeared in the video. Thanks also to our sponsor Backblaze, and to VSCO for hosting our finish line party in November. It’s gonna be dope.
To learn more about the campaign, please visit our resource page to learn more or our campaign to jump right in!
Announcing a peer-to-peer crowdfunding campaign to raise $50K for Hack the Hood
Starting today, we're launching a brand new peer-to-peer crowdfunding campaign to help expand the impact of the work we do with young people of color interested in tech. The Great Tech Community Challenge is a chance for all of us who believe in the unbridled potential of young people, and care about fixing the inclusion problem in tech, to come together to make a real difference.
You can take part by donating, becoming a fundraiser, or joining a team! Once you start you can challenge your friends, colleagues, and others to join you in supporting Hack the Hood.
Follow this link to sign-up or learn more about the campaign here. With your help we'll be able to expand Hack the Hood's work beyond six-week bootcamps to year-round mentoring, workshops, and support for youth in the Bay Area!
by Donte´ Burney, Full Stack Web Developer and Hack the Hood Technical Fellow
reposted from his LinkedIn blog
Walking inside of a tech company can be a rough experience when it comes to breaking cultural barriers in the tech industry. In the Silicon Valley, the presence of black and latino engineers represent less than one percent of employment in most startup companies-- so it is not unusual to feel a bit of awkwardness when a group of young men of color walk in the building. In reason, I had some expectations based on past experiences but this time was different. There was a noticeable change in the atmosphere, a spirit of diversity, a sense of compassion and a realness which most of us had never experienced from a tech company before.
Standing on top of a luxurious rooftop, tech professionals from Wikia, broke down the ins and out of the industry, listened and gave advice on what it really takes to achieve success in the industry. They repeatedly spoke about failure and how we truly learn from these experiences as humans. One employee, told us about how he dropped out of college twice before he finally got his act together and took his work serious. Another lady spoke of her willingness to hustle and go above and beyond expectations. The Wikia community was able to speak the language of the youth and after leaving Wikia, many of the students expressed a willingness to be even more dedicated to learning, expressing their ideas and becoming a professional in the industry.
Bayview-Hack the Hood is a technical training, non-profit, who serve young people of color at the Bayview YMCA in San Francisco, CA. In 6 weeks, they review computer science fundamentals, web design principles and graphic design. If your company is searching for design interns please send me an e-mail to email@example.com. Learn more about Hack the Hood at http://www.hackthehood.org.
by Susan Mernit, CEO & Co-founder of Hack the Hoo
“I am asking all companies to look at diversity as a broken product. What post-mortem analysis can we run to understand our stagnating numbers? How can we debug the reason why diversity numbers haven’t changed? What are some institutional biases we can tease out? “
--Bo Ren, Medium,
I was a senior executive in product management at different tech companies from 2000 to 2008, when I waslaid off from a position at Yahoo! as head of product for Yahoo! Personals (I also spent a small bit of that time working with Yahoo! Brickhouse).
After I left that job, I launched a start-up I incubated at Techstars—and shut it down six months later, soon after I moved to Oakland. In Oakland, I started (with Kwan Booth and Amy Gahran) a local news non-profitcalled Oakland Local, in 2009. In 2012, I co-founded a #techinclusion non-profit, Hack the Hood, that focuses on creating more opportunities for young people of color.
Even though my last role as a product lead in a large tech company was almost ten years ago, so much of the views expressed and the experiences described by Bo Ren in her recent essay in response to Facebook saying its lack of diversity was a pipeline problem, rang true as similar to things I have experienced in the past.
In fact, as I read Bo Ren’s essay, many stressors I’ve felt as a woman product manager without an MBA or an engineering degree (but a record of building and development interesting products for consumers, often as part of and often as a lead in, a very innovative team) came flooding back. The not being good enough, the constant challenges, the side eye--even as a white woman with privilege, I’ve experienced some version of all of them.
How can it be that almost fifteen years later, women are still hearing the same biased statements about being product managers—and leaders?
How can it be that women are still being told they are abrasive and too aggressive after they are asked to lead?
Why is it that women who have product vision are challenged by males and told they’re not technical enough to be a product manager—or, on the other side, that they lack the business skills to do the job?
I heard all of those 15 years ago—which makes it so infuriating that we are still hearing them now.
In her essay, Bo Ren suggests if diversity was a product we’d shipped, it would be seriously broken—so the thing to do is to rebuild the product.
In other words, the ways some people working in tech hold onto power and refuse to share it need to be addressed right now if we’re going to have an equitable and inclusive tech industry. And yet, to make that happen, we’re going to have to think about how we go beyond empowering women - or just some women - to have a fair shot.
We need to create the access and opportunities for everyone who has a specific set of skills and experiences to find meaningful employment in their field--and create ways that they are able to access those skills and education in the first place.
Race, class, gender, identity, sexuality, age should not be the determinants--and yet there are far too many hiring managers at tech companies, big and small, who feel otherwise. Diversity & inclusion managers at many companies tell me how frustrated they are that the hiring managers at their organizations look at people who come out of non-traditional backgrounds—including community colleges, coding boot camps, and apprenticeship programs—as inferior candidates, candidates that are in no way a match for the skills that those who have gone to particular four-year colleges and specific graduate programs offer.
So, no interviews, no hires. Or, if they get in, they experience being othered--exceptionalized and judged--until they can’t take it and move on.
I co-founded Hack the Hood because I wanted to see young people from the low-income communities of color in our region—including my own rapidly gentrifying corner of Oakland--be a part of the tech jobs boom. I believed that many of our young people could become innovative, successful workers and leaders at companies like Facebook, Yahoo! and Google, as well as at smaller and emerging companies in the tech ecosystem.
And yet, for too many people doing hiring, Hack the Hood members are challenging candidates for whom they feel they are doing a favor when they call them in for an interview. Not only are they entry-level candidates in companies with few entry-level roles--they’re also the candidates who are not part of the usual networks, the usual schools, and the usual companies--and that, as Bo Ren points out, is another area where tech companies are reluctant to take risks.
And yet, these young people have a lot to offer—they are bright, hard-working, resilient, innovative problem solvers—exactly the kinds of people technical companies want in that they are dedicated to creative ways to solve problems and they are practicing how to learn hard things.
Only they need a way in.
If the big tech companies really care about inclusion, and about being a resource for the communities where their facilities are based, they will change their hiring pipelines and debug the diversity gap. This investment in talent will pay off in better products, more invested workers, and a greater contribution to the social fabric of the communities where tech companies locate.
And look, if we’re going to be real, the most important thing to ensure is not that people of color get to work at Google or Facebook, but that those young people of color--and everyone who doesn’t fit the tech majority of the moment--have the same opportunity as anyone else to participate in innovating the technologies and solutions our future requires.
And, equally importantly, they do it with equal pay, equal opportunities for advancement, and the same support for launching and owning their own companies that only the most privileged enjoy today.
Photo by Sonya Redi
Hack the Hood Blog
News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.