BACKGROUND

The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities. With holistic strategies that instill hope, develop family-sustaining skills, The Hidden Genius Project is empowering young people to leverage their creativity to self-determine. We partner with community organizations and public systems to address as many material needs as possible, and inspire our young men to apply their skills and interests to manifest their hidden genius.

Our core component is a 15-month Intensive Immersion Program focused on community transformation and career readiness. Each year, it provides over 100 Black male high school students with 800 hours of training and support to help them think critically about their future academic and career plans and chart a path that supports their long-term goals. By providing an intensive format, integrating leadership and entrepreneurship as core components, providing Black male staff and mentorship, ensuring multiple programming languages are taught, offering alumni continuing support and opportunities for growth, and expanding our holistic support service strategy, we are building a game-changing organization that is investing in and ultimately changing the future of our communities. Immersion sites currently include Oakland, Richmond, and Los Angeles.

Our organizational growth has proliferated on the shoulders of our Immersion Program alumni, who are brilliant, dynamic, and possess the tremendous capacity to make a positive impact on their communities. We continue to expand our alumni service offerings to enhance their opportunities, and one key area we are developing is alumni entrepreneurship.

 

PROPOSAL

As The Hidden Genius Project works to train and empower its alumni to build their own ventures, we seek to increase opportunities for young people of color entering the entrepreneurial space. Access to technical supports and capital will be critical to our young entrepreneurs’ success, and we aim to build a platform that will not only offer entrepreneurial training, but also seed funding to propel their ventures forward.

We propose to establish an Alumni Venture Seed Fund as a means to capitalize on our most dedicated and ambitious Hidden Genius alumni. With this in place, we can lay a solid foundation of resources from which our Geniuses might build strong ventures worthy of substantial investment down the line. Key features of the fund include:

    • Stipends made available from our program to Immersion Program alumni having completed entire “post-graduate” entrepreneurship curriculum (co-created with venture capital partners)
    • Requirements for fund disbursements tied to completion of key business development benchmarks (e.g. business plan development, incorporation, market research completion, pitch development, etc.
    • Funds disbursed in the form of a stipend
    • Targeting an initial $150,000 fund pool
    • Contributions to fund are tax-deductible; no potential fiscal return on investment for this stage

We ask that you consider investing in our young people’s future by donating to this fund. You might also consider contributing to the knowledge base informing the alumni entrepreneurship curriculum.

Contact Sean Valentine (sean@hiddengeniusproject.org) and/or Brandon Nicholson (brandon@hiddengeniusproject) with questions or ideas.