It is difficult to describe the year 2020 in written words. On one hand, it was a maelstrom of pandemics, catastrophes, and emotional hardship. On the other hand, it brought us new beginnings, new ideas, inspiring examples of resilience, and every single day we got to live was a blessing. In that regard, I am grateful to be able to present The Hidden Genius Project’s 2020 Annual Report. It is a rich arc of hope, inspiration, and dogged determination to create value.
We started 2020 as ambitiously as we concluded 2019, with two dynamic community programs in partnership with NBA franchises. We visited Detroit for the first time, and collaborated with the Pistons, TEAM Inc., and a host of local community and corporate partners to deliver a dynamic experience marrying technology with basketball. Just a week later, we offered a similar program alongside our valued partners, the Golden State Warriors. Those two events marked some of our last fond memories of programming in person, as the global pandemic would send us into quarantine.
Quarantine did not deter us from our core mission; as soon as we made the shift to working from home we began delivering programming to our Geniuses in our Intensive Immersion Program via virtual platforms. Through videoconference, project management, and multiple communication technologies, our Geniuses are meeting in small groups (known as “pods”) multiple days per week. It was truly a team effort, as our Alumni Youth Educators lead some of the pods. Moreover, we launched our Los Angeles site, with a dynamic team and a cohort of brilliant young men.
Even as our Immersion cohorts were navigating a virtual summer, we were determined to offer young people who could not access our intensive offering a meaningful learning experience during a time when so many summer programs were having to cancel their plans. Thus was born Global Tech Slam, a 20-day program series designed to expose young people to career pathways, skills, and opportunities across multiple sectors and industries. Throughout the month of July–in partnership with TEAM, Inc., the Golden State Warriors, United Tech Cities, and Sphero–we reached several hundred participants, who joined us from Hawaii to South Africa. It was a testament to the resilient creativity of our team, partners, and our communities.
I was deeply encouraged by the fact we were not only to sustain a number of Community Partner programs virtually, but we also launched some new collaborations, including multiple in Los Angeles. Our young Black leaders continue to build and provide their peers and larger communities with access to more quality educational experiences in technology and entrepreneurship.
As I mentioned earlier, we are grateful to our Los Angeles team, who came onboard virtually and have remained as such ever since, even at the release of this report. They consistently pour themselves into our mission, and believe wholeheartedly in our young people. I am beyond excited to see our work grow in LA and beyond.
I pray for peace and healing for all those who experienced loss and/or suffering in 2020. At the same time, I am deeply appreciative for all we were able to achieve in the year, as well as every opportunity we have to make an impact. Thank you to our young people, our families, our partners, and all those who support us to grow and advance.
Please enjoy our 2020 Annual Report.
Brandon Nicholson, Ph.D.
Founding Executive Director
The Hidden Genius Project