By Mary Fuller, Hack the Hood co-founder and COO
Last week at graduation, I gave the crowd a little preview of what to expect from Hack the Hood starting this fall. There were a lot of exciting things to talk about, from launching a school pilot at MetWest High School to prepping for an advanced skills mobile app boot camp in partnership with UC Berkeley this spring (more on that later!). But I must admit, I was a little surprised that the announcement that seemed to get the most reaction from the crowd was the fact that we will be launching a Hack the Hood Bootcamp in Watsonville this fall in partnership with Digital NEST.
If you're not familiar, Watsonville is a small town of about 50,000 people in Santa Cruz County. It's known throughout California as a center of agriculture, and not necessarily a tech hub.
But our partner Digital NEST is working hard to change that. Founder and Executive Director Jacob Martinez has been working diligently for over 10 years to give tech career opportunities to low-income youth whose parents work the strawberry fields in and around Watsonville. Recently, his energy has been funneled towards creating an innovative youth coworking space where young people can get access to technology and training so that they can join the 21st century digital economy. And while the prospects for tech jobs look a lot different than they do in Oakland, there's growing demand for tech workers in Watsonville.
Agriculture doesn't happen the way it used to. Jacob notes there are fewer migrant workers than there used to be because of shifting agricultural practices that allow for a year-round harvest. It's not unusual now to see drones surveying the fields. And the drought calls out loudly for new tech-fueled solutions. The shift towards AgTech is no doubt bolstered by a change of the guard as old school agricultural families pass on their legacy to the next generation children who have grown up just over the hill from Silicon Valley. Maybe the new guard sees not only the opportunity to improve agricultural practices using tech, but also to improve the lives of the children of agricultural workers as well.
So does Hack the Hood look like when we take it to a farm town like Watsonville?
We are excited to find out. And we are thrilled to have such an excellent partner in Digital NEST.
Just as we did this summer with RYSE Youth Center in Richmond and The Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula in East Palo Alto, Hack the Hood is providing Digital NEST with support and resources so they can deliver their own version of Hack the Hood in their community. This process started in May when Digital NEST's program manager attended our train the trainer workshop. Over the next couple of months Hack the Hood staff will provide ongoing curriculum, training, technical assistance, evaluation, fundraising and promotional support to ensure that their program thrives. We are excited to see what Digital NEST adds to the Hack the Hood curriculum and model, and we anticipate learning as much from them as they learn from us.
We hope you see the value of offering Hack the Hood to rural communities, and that you will support this project with as much enthusiasm as you've supported our work in urban centers.
Please consider making a donation and help us spread the word.
HTH Graduates at Wednesday's Grad party.
With Friday marking the finale of our latest Hack the Hood six-week Boot Camp, we want to take a moment to honor everyone who made this session one of our most successful to date! Since HTH's start in 2013, we've seen our largest group of students,, graduating 46 web developers this past Wednesday at Impact Hub Oakland. Friends, family and community members arrived to a sold-out graduation party to honor the students who committed to themselves and the program, becoming young professionals in tech along the way.
At the completion of Boot Camp, students leave with competence in technical, professional and leadership skills, hands-on experience working with local small businesses to create beautiful and functional websites, and a portfolio showcasing the work they've put in over the course of the program. At Hack the Hood, our mission is to improve access to well-paying jobs and training for low-income youth of color, introducing them to training and opportunities in the industry. For most students, this was their first experience with coding, and they showed tenacity and dedication in building these skills.
We want to congratulate, and thank our graduates for inspiring their communities, mentors, instructors, each other, the Hack the Hood team, and most importantly themselves. This is just the beginning of their journey, and we look forward to seeing what amazing things they go onto achieve.
To the mentors, volunteers, instructors ( MetWest and EOYDC cohorts), parents and guardians-thank you for encouraging and motivating our students to push forward and succeed. Your support has been integral to the success of our Boot Camp.
To our supporters, program partners, community leaders and members, thank you for helping bring Hack the Hood's mission a reality to hundreds of youth and young adults, helping us to expand in multiple communities within the Bay Area.
Thank you to our event speakers:
Stewart Butterfield, CEO and Founder of Slack & Erica Baker, Release Engineer at Slack for beginning the evening with your words of encouragement.
DeVaris Brown, former Product Manager at VSCO and tech evangelist, for connecting and engaging with our youth, sharing your personal and uplifting story to inspire how they too, can succeed in the tech industry.
Udayan Sinha, Advising Council Member & Hack the Hood youth mentor, for your continued work and support at HTH.
Thank you to Blue Herron Catering for donating your time, service and delicious bites for attendees to enjoy on our big day.
In celebration of OneLogin's recent campaign #ILookLikeAnEngineer to spread awareness and celebrate diversity in tech, we share with you our own photos of our latest graduates. These students represent the future of thought leaders, changemakers and innovators in the growing tech industry.
Graduates, stay in the loop with Hack the Hood post graduation at LinkedIn group page for youth, staff, mentors and HTH affiliates by clicking here.
Not a Hack the Hood grad, but want to become one? Learn how to apply here.
If you're a local small business, and would like to utilize our services and apply for a free website, find out more here.
If you'd like to find out ways you can help support Hack the Hood and local small businesses, go here for more information.
Celebrate the newest batch of Hack the Hood Graduates Want to feel inspired by what young people are capable of? Want to show your support and be part of a movement that is training the next generation of diverse tech leaders?
Join us on August 12 to celebrate over 40 young people who have completed our 6-week immersive bootcamp in Oakland. It's time to party and honor all their hard work!
Our big tent will gather young people, families, friends, and mentors in attendance, plus volunteers and allies from organizations including Google, Weebly, Go Daddy!, VSCO, Facebook, Slack, Adobe, Get Clef, Pandora, and so many others!Speakers include:
Food by Blue Heron Catering, DJ, and good folks will all be on hand.
100% of profits form the evening will go to support youth stipends at future program, making it easy for them to afford to particpate, thanks to generous underwriting from Slack.
If you're a person who cares about helping to create work opportunities for young people of color in Oakland, or wants to keep Oakland a diverse center of innovation as more tech rolls in, this is an event you definitely want to attend.
Early bird tickets are $11; get them here through 8/7; get regular tickets here as well.
And see you on the 12th!
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News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.