Dear Beloved Community,
Six years ago, Zakiya Harris, Mary Fuller, and I came up with the idea to empower local small businesses by pairing them with young people in the community to plan and build their websites, then use that experience to introduce the young people to careers in tech as well as enable the youth to build a portfolio to utilize in their job searches.
Today, Hack the Hood has 15 staffers, and our business model multiplier has provided the impact of serving 235 young people in 2017, and more than 600 youth and small businesses over the years. Since our first bootcamp, we have continued to expand our curriculum and in-depth skills training programs that prepare youth developers to grow their skills, confidence, and power for entrance into community college, coding classes, and careers in the tech economy. Additionally our work with small business owners very much increases their economic sustainability and provides economic development for our community.
I’m very proud of all we have accomplished. And yet, it is time for change. As of June 28, 2018, I will step down from my role as CEO of Hack the Hood. In late July, I will join an Oakland-based arts and education non-profit as their Executive Director.
It has been rewarding and powerful to turn an idea about introducing low-income young people of color to 21st century skills and careers in tech into a living, breathing organization. Over the course of my leadership, Hack the Hood has expanded and deepened its programs in Oakland, developing a range of innovative programs and services for young people ages 16-25; recruited and supported 9 partners we trained to deliver our core program, Bootcamp, in San Francisco, East Palo Alto, San Jose, Hayward, Modesto, and Merced; grown from serving 18 students and 40 small businesses to engaging more than 600 small businesses, 100 volunteers, 20+ tech companies and more than 50 education, government workforce and community-based partners. In addition to guiding the organization to scale its impact, I am proud of all of the leaders we have helped develop, an executive team with a majority of people of color, and a staff that has hired 15+ young people from our programs as permanent and seasonal skilled employees and leaders.
Building a fully functional organization over the past 5 years has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. From that moment in 2014, when Hack the Hood won $500,000 from Google.org during the first Bay Area Impact Challenge (as a good idea at a VERY early stage!) to our full range of year-round programs today, it has been humbling and a constant education to be able to do this work.
There’s never a right time to make this kind of change, and yet I think it is the right time to transition Hack the Hood’s leadership. This is a moment to provide new energy, new ideas, and new blood to expand upon the work we have begun. Our team is motivated, capable, and dedicated to the mission. I have pride and full confidence in the board, the staff, and the community of young people and small businesses we have created. I am supporting the board as they recruit and bring in an interim CEO and have gladly accepted a board seat.
As a new board member, I look forward to supporting Hack the Hood so this organization continues to grow, thrive, and change lives. I’m impressed by everything that the team has accomplished during this time, and will always love the vision and community of Hack the Hood.
Hack the Hood is turning five this year, and to celebrate this milestone we are highlighting the young people who have brought their skills and passions to our program. We'll be profiling a different young leader each month, with Angelica being our June feature.
1. What made you decide to join Hack the Hood (HtH)? When did you start with HtH?
Honestly, I had nothing better to do over the summer, so I gave it a shot and applied. Joining seemed like a good use of my time.
2. What did you learn, that was unexpected? Was there anything that surprised you about the program?
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy coding or web design. I discovered that this is something that I’m curious about and as I transition to college this is a field that I want to pursue seriously.
3. What are your favorite foods?
Love pasta, especially tortellini or anything with pesto! But my food loyalty belongs with french fries…I love them so much! I enjoy eating my french fries with BBQ sauce, ketchup, and ranch dressing.
Insider tip - the best place to get fries in the Bay is Super Duper burger…they’re even better than In-N-Out (sorry, but that’s the truth :))!
4. What do you do for fun?
Before it used to be hanging out with friends and photography. Now that I’m so busy with school, I like to just be at home. Senior year has just been so stressful. When I have a moment to relax, I like to stay home, read an article, watch Netflix, or hang out with friends at home.
5. What’s your favorite TV show?
“The Office” – because it’s so funny, especially the interactions between each other - the jokes are SO hilarious! “Parks and Rec” comes in a close second (if not equal) – the show speaks to my heart. Ron Swanson is my favorite television character...he gets paid to do nothing...that’s the dream or maybe why the government is so inefficient.
6. What are three places you enjoy visiting in Oakland?
I like going to cafes or small coffee shops, because they’re more homey and inviting. It’s easy to sit down and chill.
In Alameda there’s this restaurant called Lola’s Chicken Shack…my friends and I like to grab food from there and go to beach and chill. Also going to Sushi House with friends is one of my favorite places to eat sushi.
When I had time, I loved going to SF to photograph buildings and the local flora/fauna. Perhaps I can go back to this over the summer when I’m officially done with high school!
7. Who are your top music artists?
Bazzi: he’s a solo artist and love how he sings about love;
Post Malone: he’s super chill and his songs are pretty realistic;
For some major throwback, The Beatles: I grew up with them because my Dad loves the Beatles…my favorite song is “Hey Jude”;
Beethoven: appreciate his way of music…it’s peaceful and calming.
8. Who do you follow on insta?
I follow people/media outlets like: Teen Vogue, because they’ve started focusing on world problems and awareness around that and various make-up artists.
9. Where’d you grow up? What do you like about Oakland?
Grew up in Oakland, specifically the Dimond District. St. Jarlath (Roman-Catholic) Church was and is a huge part of my life. At first I really hated going to church because everything revolved around the church, but now I really appreciate it.
I like the diversity in Oakland and how our neighborhoods are pretty well blended. When I leave Oakland, I notice how different people interact with each other and how many times people will only interact with people within their own communities, limiting the opportunity for us to learn about other cultures and ways of thinking.
10. What’s something you’d like to see change in Oakland? What do you want your contribution to that change to be?
A big problem in Oakland is people experiencing homelessness. Everywhere you go you see them…under the bridge, by Lake Merritt, by the expressway, and downtown.
Homelessness is a really hard thing to solve by just one person. But providing shelters and food would be a really good start. Have more accessible centers where people experiencing homelessness can go to so they can get their lives back on track.
Over the holidays, my church provides meals for those experiencing homelessness and that’s one way I’ve been helping out. It’s special and humbling to be able to connect with those experiencing homelessness and being able to witness what they’ve experienced.
11. What do you appreciate about today’s technology?
The ever connected network. You can literally text, message, or call someone and they will immediately get your message. You can immediately record problems you see on the streets and share it with the world. Having a phone that allows you to do all of this, speeds up the process for information sharing.
12. What type of technology do you wish you had, but hasn’t been invented yet?
Something that allows you to read minds. Inserting a chip in the brain and projecting it…so when you’re thinking about something and can’t articulate it, you can then show it so others understand. Though, this would have to be a highly monitored piece of technology and not available to just anyone.
Or being able to to have a photographic memory because, in my opinion, life would be easier when we can remember the more necessary things in our daily lives.
13. What would be your dream job? What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to go into the Computer Science field and I want to be coding for web development or would want to work on the math side of the field. Still deciding which of these two I want to pursue.
I was accepted into 11 colleges and finally made the really hard decision of where to go…University of Oregon, which I’m really excited to be attending...go Ducks!
Photography by Christine Cueto.
Hack the Hood Blog
News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.