Dear Hack the Hood community,
We hope you and your loved ones are staying well and healthy. In the midst of these uncertain times, we wanted to share some positivity with our 2019 Impact Report which reflects our aspirations and marks our progress as an organization. This past year, your continued support had a tremendous impact here in Oakland and with our partner organizations, who’ve taken our curriculum and empowered more young people.
Hack the Hood was created to bring together young people of color, small business owners, and tech industry leaders to advance equity, inclusion, and innovation for the entire community - especially in the tech sector.
Every year, our team aims to improve the experience of our young people - both current program participants and alumni. We kicked off 2019 with our first ever 9-week spring bootcamp, implementing 3 additional weeks to the program with 84 hours of advanced technical curriculum and 53 more hours of professional development. We continued to engage with our alumni by empowering them to lead our programs and bringing them together for Alumni Appreciation Nights. One of our key milestones for the second half of the year was the transition to our new partnership model. By collaborating with our 8 program partners, not only do we scale our impact, our students receive double the support.
“In these changing times, our work is more critical than ever," said Zakiya Harris, Co-Founder and Senior Advisor of Hack the Hood. "We are proud of the collective impact our work has had on advancing the lives of young folks of color in tech."
On behalf of the 1,015 youth and 400 small businesses we have served since 2013, thank you for your support of Hack the Hood. We hope that you take enormous pride in what we have accomplished together. We look forward to continuing our mission of changing the face of tech and improving economic mobility to our communities in the Bay Area and beyond.
Hack the Hood
Dear Small Business Community,
In light of ongoing closures and cancellations due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we wanted to reach out to you to share resources to help support small businesses.
As we stay vigilant to protect our physical health from the virus, we also need to protect the economic health of our community. Freelancers and small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and right now, this lifeblood is at risk.
The economic impacts of COVID-19 will likely have a ripple effect for months to come. And, while Hack the Hood does not have direct service to support our small businesses during these challenging times, we hope these resources shared below can:
We hope you stay safe and also want to share these resources to help cope with the coronavirus situation:
Hack the Hood
Hack the Hood believes in highlighting the young people who have brought their skills and passions to our program to inspire others. We're profiling a different young leader each month to share their journey through Hack the Hood and beyond, with Walter being our February feature.
1. What made you decide to join Hack the Hood (HtH)? When did you start with HtH?
I initially joined Hack the Hood in the spring of 2017. I learned about the organization from a tech workshop that was happening at my school. I decided on joining Hack the Hood because it seemed like a good opportunity to try something new and learn new things and meet new people and I always want to learn how to code and understand how software works on the backend. I first joined their Tech Prep Coding and then after that class, I signed up for Hack the Hood bootcamp. It was pretty fun because we made websites and play with different programs and it was really cool. I would definitely do it again.
2. What did you learn that was unexpected? Was there anything that surprised you about the program?I learned that there are multiple ways to solve a coding problem. What really surprised me was how easy it was to create websites in the class, using Weebly. It was a great introduction to learning about web design.
3. What has your journey post- Hack the Hood looked like?
My journey has been a bit tough. College didn’t really work out and I couldn’t be on the debate team and wrestling team due to some unfortunate circumstances. So I joined the Navy a few months ago. I recently completed boot camp and made a lot of connections there. It was fun. Now, I about to head to Japan for my deployment and I’m hoping I get to see all the amazing food, anime, and video games while I’m there.
4. What do you do for fun?
I enjoy playing video games, I debate, and I also play and coach wrestling. I started wrestling in middle school and I have wrestled for 10 years. I have been debating for 5 years and I started in high school, during my sophomore year.
5. What are your favorite foods?
My favorite foods are pizza, chicken curry, and lasagna.
6. What are three places you enjoy visiting in the Bay Area and beyond?
I enjoy visiting Arkansas and San Francisco. Arkansas is such a beautiful place and there are a lot of cool landmarks - like the Buffalo National River. It is such a beautiful sight to behold. As for San Francisco, there is a lot of technology all around the city. Hanging out at the beaches in San Francisco is pretty cool. There are also a lot of gaming companies in San Francisco that have created some of my favorite games.
7. Who are your top music artists?
My top music artists are Black Veil Brides, Halsey, Ellie Goulding, and Post Malone.
8. Who do you follow on Insta?
I only follow people I know and a few famous people on Instagram, like Halsey, Post Malone, and Ellie Goulding.
9. Where’d you grow up? What do you like about the Bay Area?
I was born in Oakland but I grew up in both Oakland and Sacramento. The one thing I like about the Bay Area is that there is a lot of diversity in the population and in the restaurants around the Bay Area.
10. What’s something you’d like to see change in Oakland? What do you want your contribution to that change to be?
I would like to see these empty buildings being used to help out the young people and get them off these streets. I would love to contribute by trying to buy some of these properties and turning them into something that benefits the young people in our community.
11. What do you appreciate about today’s technology?
I appreciate that today’s technology makes things more accessible. For example, smartphones make it so easy to connect with your friends and meet up. Also, it makes it so you don’t really have to do a lot to get the thing you need done, like how Uber has Uber eats that is an app that gets food delivered to you.
12. What type of technology do you wish you had but hasn’t been invented yet?
I wish I had a flying car because it seems like fun.
13. What would be your dream job? What do you want to be when you grow up?
My dream job would be to own my own gaming company, making MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing games) and VR games.
Photography by Christine Cueto.
Exciting news from Hack the Hood to our community of support!
We’re writing to share the news that Hack the Hood is in the process of searching for our newest Executive Director to lead us into the next decade.
Recently, we transitioned from our co-founder and founding Executive Director & CEO, Susan Mernit, through an interim CEO period, led by Michel Gelobter. Now, we’ve moved forward with the important next step of identifying a new full-time leader for the organization.
Because our community of support and partnerships have been so important to Hack the Hood, we wanted to share this news publicly along with our plan to ensure a thoughtful and smooth transition to the next phase of this organization’s growth and development.
The Board’s gratitude goes to Michel and to our staff, partners, supporters, and volunteers over the past year and a half. It is due to their commitment and leadership that Hack the Hood is as strong as ever. We are excited to build on our momentum going into the new year.
To find our next leader, the Board has formed a Search Committee which includes Board Chair, Kamal Shah and board members Gabriel Castillo and Tanya Caragol as well as co-founder of Hack the Hood, Zakiya Harris.
To ensure our search process is rigorous and thorough, we have engaged Blueridge Advisors. The team at Blueridge understands our values, our mission, and the current environment and life stage of this young, mission-driven organization.
After incorporating feedback from staff, consultants, founders, and community stakeholders, Blueridge has developed an opportunity brief for the role and is committed to identifying and securing a diverse and talented pool of qualified leaders for us to choose from. Equally importantly, their role will continue as an advisor to the Board after the hire of the new ED.
The position description is posted here. To apply or to nominate an individual, please provide a cover letter and resume expressing your interest to email@example.com with “Hack the Hood – Executive Director” in the subject line. All applications and referrals will be held in the strictest confidence.
Thank you for all you have done to support Hack the Hood, and for your partnership during this exciting time of opportunities and growth. On behalf of the whole Hack the Hood team, we are all very grateful for your past, present, and future continued support.
Happy New Year!
Kamal Shah, Patty Mitchell, Luther Jackson
Executive Committee - Hack the Hood Board of Directors
At the end of the year, we are looking back and celebrating all we have accomplished.
One of Hack the Hood’s biggest accomplishments in 2019 was cultivating and solidifying partnerships with schools and community based organizations to provide Bootcamp workshops and after school programs on site to them to reach more young people. And there is no better example of this partnership model working out so well like Alameda Point Collaborative.
We can go on and on about all the reasons why this partnership model is efficient and effective but really, Marque, our program partner at APC, nails it when he speaks to what the Hack the Hood partnership model provides:
“Having proficiency in tools and technology is one thing and having the ability to feel confident when you meet new people and take new risks is another thing. It is wonderful to be around people who are so skilled in transferring that feeling to young people.”
In 2020, we are looking forward to providing both the tools to hone technical skills AND professional skills to build more confident young leaders that will continue to re-shape access into tech careers.
In the spirit of giving, gifts come up a lot: what gifts to give, what gifts to receive. But here is question that Anthony Holloway, Hack the Hood Volunteer, brings up:
What gifts do you have that you can share with others around you?
According to Anthony, we all have gifts and we are all “obligated to share them.” He isn’t referring to the gifts we can wrap up with a bow. He is talking about the innate goodness in all of us and how we all have something to give and share with others to be that nudge, like he refers, to make a difference in the lives of others.
As we close our office for the next few days, we encourage you to think about the gifts you have that you can share with others. What do they look like? And more importantly, how could your gifts impact the lives of others?
We are always so grateful for the community that surrounds us with their giving this time of year and all year round. If you haven’t yet and can, consider giving to Hack the Hood today.
Meet Ahmed Ali Bob, the Community Affairs Lead at Square and active supporter and advocate of Hack the Hood. Ahmed and Square have been champions in providing various opportunities to expose Bay Area young people to the tech sector and elevating their own economic mobility by hosting Hack the Hood cohorts at their community space, engaging with our small businesses partners, speaking at our graduations and events, and helping us fundraise for more years of impactful work! Ahmed and Square support our mission to diversify tech workforce and put value to action under the shared belief that the underrepresented communities we serve have “the skills and the experience necessary to thrive.” We are beyond grateful for their partnership and consider them a vital partner within the Hack the Hood community.
For 2020, Hack the Hood will be launching various professional development opportunities to expose Bay Area young people to tech jobs through direct placement such as internships and pre-apprenticeships. We are doing this because more needs to be doneand it takes a coalition comprised of Hack the Hood, educators, and companies like Square to come together to build the next steps toward economic opportunity for underrepresented communities and their ability to gain access to sustainable careers in the communities they live in. As said by Ahmed, “we are looking forward to supporting our employees to work in the community they live in.” With your help and support, Hack the Hood will launch programs and workforce opportunities to ensure that all community members have equitable access to local tech sector career opportunities in the years to come.
In the past two weeks, you have met Brayan and Claudia - two of Hack the Hood’s growing group of community members. Now, to further introduce you to more of the great people that make Hack the Hood special, meet Jeanette.
As Jeanette mentioned, when she discovered Hack the Hood, she was going through a life change and was looking for something different. Her experience with Hack the Hood’s Bootcamp and introduction to web design didn’t just propel her forward to start her own business, Labios Mios, but also allowed her to put action to her values of elevating Latina representation, promoting vegan beauty products, and supporting her community by helping other small businesses with their websites.
We are so lucky to have Jeanette join our Spring 2019 Bootcamp and proud to watch her go from being intimidated by tech to using it to empower herself and her community. It is Hack the Hood’s goal in 2020 to make sure more values are being turned into action and your gift today can kick start that mission - and make sure your values are reflected into action too. It takes all of us to make sure values move the needle.
Last week, we introduced the Hack the Hood community to Brayan, a budding tech professional whose story inspired many community members to give on Giving Tuesday to Hack the Hood.
To further celebrate the work Hack the Hood has done in 2019 and lift up more of the community members within the organization, meet Claudia Rivas. Claudia is the owner of Oakland-based Senorita Vegerita and participated in Hack the Hood’s Bootcamp as Brayan’s co-collaborator in designing her small business’s website.
Yes, Hack the Hood introduces under-resourced youth of color to careers in tech by training them in 21st century relevant coding and design skills to leverage access to careers in tech, the economy they live in, and elevate their own economic mobility.
But Hack the Hood doesn’t stop there.
By connecting students to small businesses, that commitment to economic access is stretched to even more Bay Area community members to cultivate prosperity in the place they call home.
To close out 2019, we will be introducing you to more Hack the Hood community members to further show how far our efforts go to create economic impact for the Bay Area. We hope, after getting to know them all, you feel inspired and encouraged to further support our efforts for an even more impactful 2020.
Stay tuned to meet more of the Hack the Hood family!
In honor of Giving Tuesday and Hack the Hood’s 2019 Community Giving Challenge, we would like to introduce you to Hack the Hood alumni, Brayan.
After participating in Hack the Hood’s first 9-week Bootcamp and partnering with Claudia Rivas, owner of Señorita Vegerita, to design her small catering business’s website, 22-year-old Brayan was hungry for more. With more confidence, inspiration, and a new passion for UX/UI design, Brayan has said yes to opportunity after opportunity to further his career and curiosity. Most recently, Brayan was selected for the Adobe Digital Academy Scholarship, which opens the door to him attending the User Experience Design Immersive at General Assembly. After graduating from GA, Brayan will be eligible to join a three to six month technical internship at Adobe.
Now, this doesn’t just happen and, in fact, it takes a lot of work. Brayan has put in a ton of work and Hack the Hood has been there every step of the way supporting him through the ups and downs. Just like Brayan says, “We are gonna come across these challenges, these barriers, these imposter syndromes. And it is normal. We don’t have a lot of people like us in [tech] communities but we have the right to be.”
Hack the Hood agrees. Young people of color have the right to be in tech communities, gaining access to good careers and gainful economic mobility.
Do you agree?
Agree by donating today. Your financial support of Hack the Hood goes directly toward funding programs like our spring bootcamp, where young people like Brayan gain exposure to careers in tech and begin managing their small business clients for the first time.
Be a part of the movement of young tech innovators who not only want to change the face of tech but have aspirations of transforming the entire industry. Donate here or create a team and get that team to donate collectively to Hack the Hood. Even better: tell your friends and family about our campaign too! The Bay Area can be a place where young people of color gain access to good tech jobs and it can start with your donation. Better yet: become a recurring monthly donor to make sure that statement continues all year long!
Hack the Hood Blog
News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.