This summer we extended our Hack the Hood program to two new Bay Area cities and four new sites. Included in the new sites is The Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula (BGCP). When thinking about which organization to partner with Jeff Feinman quickly came up. Zakiya Harris, one of our Co-Founders and Chief Education Officer, worked with Jeff in San Francisco, back in the day. Jeff is currently the VP of Teen Programing at BGCP. Jeff is creative and solutions oriented, as a program leader he makes a good fit for bringing the Hack the Hood program to a new organization.
The Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula is a very complementary program to Hack the Hood, and has strong community ties. Hack the Hood brings BGCP a focus on technology education and tech equity, that aligns well with BGCP’s emphasis on college prep and planning.
BGCP launched their program on June 15th. There are 21 students taking part in the program, ages 15-19, and most of them are female. To learn more about how things were going we checked in with Lyn Muldrow, Lead Web Design Instructor for Hack the Hood and a General Assembly alumni.
How did/when did you first learn about Hack the Hood's program?
I found out about Hack the Hood when I was looking for volunteer opportunities. After learning about Hack the Hood’s initiative, I knew I had to be a part of the diversity in tech movement. It was then that I made it a personal mission to give youth practical skills and reduce their barrier to entry to the tech sector. I knew that with Hack the Hood I could do this.
What is your professional background and how are you applying your expertise to your work as a Web Design Instructor with Hack the Hood?
I'm a front-end web developer with over eight years of experience in website development, user experience design, and marketing. Much like my students, I developed a love for web development and design by working with Wordpress and learning how to tweak the html, css, and php of different templates, first for myself, and later for mom & pop and brick & mortar shops. I eventually created my own web design and content marketing business, and have had the privilege to work with small companies and big brands alike. I try to bring my enthusiasm for web design and the tech industry to my students—to help them understand that the skills that they learn in the classroom can not only help them find work in the tech field, but will also foster creativity and their entrepreneurial spirit.
How did The Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula adapt the program to the Peninsula community?
We have an amazingly talented, unique set of students that are a part of the Hack the Hood program at the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula. While they’re super focused when working and learning, we took liberties with the curriculum by extending team building and student engagement and adding modules that were of interest to the youth. We catered to the desires of the students; so far they're really thriving and have such enthusiasm when faced with new challenges.
What have been of your observations of the youth in your program?
The students in our particular class are are a studious bunch, so sometimes it’s hard to get a read on their enthusiasm. During 1:1’s however the students express how much they have enjoyed the curriculum.
Are they eager to learn?
Yes, they are! They come to class on time each day and jump right into their sites without prompting. I work hard to ensure that my students are engaged and excited to be in class each day. I try to find things to do to keep things lively and we celebrate successes as they happen. I'd love for my students to look back on this experience with a fond memory, and feel inspired to continue in this path.
Do they feel apprehension?
The first few days were tough because it was a new environment and no one knew each other. At this point, the students have not only created an atmosphere of collaboration, they go out of their way to help and encourage each other.
What type of questions and topics do the youth ask you about?
The kids always come in with questions on how to extend their knowledge, what salaries look like in the tech industry, how to leverage their skills, and how to create their own businesses. I believe that Hack the Hood’s curriculum sparked the students’ creativity and willingness to learn and grow in the field.
It's early days, but do you see the young people’s confidence growing?
Some of our students are already creating a site a day. Some are digging into the back end and learning HTML and CSS outside of class. All of our kids help each other, and through their cooperation I feel a sense of confidence abound as I observe their progress.
What about you? Are you feeling a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction?
Every day I enter the classroom I feel a wave of deep satisfaction. To know that only three weeks ago these same students didn’t know how to create websites—this is truly amazing to me—they create such great, imaginative, professional designs. I feel so proud to have given them the knowledge to go forth in the field, and feel committed to watching each of my students progress with their newfound skills.
This month Hack the Hood will launch programs at three new sites with three new partners organizations:MetWest High School and East Oakland Youth Development Center, both in Oakland, and RYSE Youth Centerin Richmond. Our goal is to help bring our program to many different organizations, throughout the Bay Area, eventually throughout California, and ultimately across the country. Each organization brings something new to our program, and complements it in different ways, however all of them are well rooted in their communities and know their youth and their youth’s needs more than we ever could. With each partnership we learn a lot, and we are able to better finesse our program, and as time goes on, we'll be able to more easily and quickly scale it.
All of the sites are still accepting Small Business applications for websites--apply today, get your side-hustle on, and Hack Your Hood!
Hack the Hood Blog
News items and musings on tech inclusion, youth development, buying local and more.