In late October we had the great privilege of taking five Intensive Immersion Program alumni and seven staff members to London to deliver two programs to nearly 200 local young people of color.
First, we partnered with Chelsea FC, Google, and TEAM, Inc. to build #TechSlamUK and introduce young people — the majority of whom were black male youth — to skills, careers, and opportunities at the intersection of sports and technology. We were fortunate to incorporate a host of other organizations to sponsor and partner the program, such as Kapor Center for Social Impact, Microsoft, Visa, Splunk, Last.fm (a unit of CBS Interactive), Autodesk, Amazon Web Services, and Twitch (in addition to a few schools that so graciously sourced students). For all the fantastic partners, we were most proud of our alumni Youth Educators, who facilitated the programming and robotics sessions for the young people, including an activity that allowed participants to play robot soccer. Our young men did such a fine job facilitating that they were invited to play an expanded role as workshop leaders for the ColorCode youth summit that Colorintech hosted later that week. Just as impressive was the fact that the local youth participants were on a one-week school holiday, and still woke up early to engage in this tech enrichment programming. We are truly grateful for their dedication.
At ColorCode, Colorintech brought a host of stakeholders together to expose well over 100 young people of color from London to technology career pathways. With a vibrant and energetic group of participants, our Youth Educators showed great poise and determination in their work to inspire their peers from Across the Pond. It was truly a dynamic event. I had two overarching takeaways from this action-packed week: 1) youth of color — particularly black males — in London are strikingly similar to our youth of color back home. When the London young people walked in the room, it was as if we were right back in Oakland (the accents were different, but the Jordan sneakers, the deep waves in the hair, and the youthful swagger were very familiar). 2) The best ambassadors of our work to empower young people through technology are our alumni. We were beyond proud of the effort they put in and the spirit with which they approached their work. Seeing them in action served as a forceful reminder of why we put in those 15 months of effort for our Intensive Immersion Program.
The Hidden Genius Project has been fortunate to enjoy tremendous growth since its founding in 2012, and we are excited to see where else the work takes us. What is clear is that there are black communities and communities of color throughout the United States and the world that are chock full of potential and hungry for the access necessary to realize it. I am determined to press forward in our efforts to afford this access to as many young people as possible.
Brandon Nicholson, Ph.D.
Founding Executive Director
The Hidden Genius Project