“The Hidden Genius Project brought the brotherhood aspect to virtual
learning in Zoom, and I didn’t even know that was possible.”

– Dawn Williams, RICH4 Hidden Genius Guardian

The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities.

Our INTENSIVE IMMERSION PROGRAM is a holistic 15-month mentorship experience that provides computer science, software development, entrepreneurship, and leadership training for Black male youth. Following an application, interview and acceptance into the program, students receive more than 800 hours of mentorship and training.

As shelter-in-place orders were announced in late March during the onset of COVID-19 in the Bay Area, The Hidden Genius Project seamlessly transitioned to distance learning, continuing to serve students and families across their Oakland and Richmond sites. Given the robust infrastructure and strong relationships they’ve created and nurtured over the past several years, they were able to once again meet their young people and families where they are, and connect with their Intensive Immersion Program community online.

“I am very grateful for the Macbook that you have given me. I have so many ideas on the things I can create through this laptop, not only am I planning on creating another website, but also an immersive, first-person video game using apps like Unity and programs C++. I have already learned so much in the short time that I have been a part of this program am I very excited to see what’s to come.” – Gabriel Reader, OAK8 Hidden Genius


In the beginning of 2020, The Hidden Genius Project doubled down on its commitment to serve as many young people as possible by expanding the Intensive Immersion Program from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, CA. In February 2020, we hired a diverse team of four passionate individuals with backgrounds in school education reform, program evaluation, grassroots organizing, and holistic youth development for young people of color.

Chris Wilson
Innovation Educator

Kayla Mason
Site Director

Michael Lopez, M.S.W.
Program Coordinator

Billy Spearman
Innovation Educator

Despite the uncertain terrain of navigating a global pandemic and fighting for social justice, The Hidden Genius Project virtually welcomed its Oakland, Richmond, and inaugural Los Angeles cohorts in June 2020.

“There’s nothing like in-person contact, and we miss the camaraderie, the brotherhood, and being able to look at each other in the same room and crack jokes…But so far, most of the Geniuses haven’t had a problem with the online format, and they’re doing well.”
– Akeem Brown, Programs Director

# of Richmond Immersion Students
# of Los Angeles Immersion Students
# of Oakland Immersion Students



Across our Oakland, Richmond, and Los Angeles sites, including our Hidden Genius Alumni


Jayden Cummings, RICH1 Hidden Genius Alum, was announced the winner of the Congressional App Challenge in the Rep. Barbara Lee’s district for his app iBlinkco. This contest was hosted by the U.S House of Representatives throughout the country, encouraging youth to learn code and pursue computer science fields. Listen to Jayden’s inspiring interview with Mary Lee, KPIX5 Reporter and Meteorologist.



In 2012 (our founding year), David Armstrong, Jr. (OAK1) was a junior in high school when he joined The Hidden Genius Project’s Inaugural Immersion Program – a then 24-month commitment for the original five participating Geniuses. Following the completion of the program, David remained connected to The Hidden Genius Project. In 2015 he served as a Youth Educator for our first Catalyst event, and in the following years was the first to complete a corporate internship program developed for a Hidden Genius Alum. Today, we’re proud to celebrate David as the first Hidden Genius college graduate. David received a degree in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems from California Polytechnic State University.

Click HERE to read stories from Hidden Genius Alumni who completed our Intensive Immersion Program.

The pandemic further exposed the digital divide — fueled by systemic racism and economic inequities—as countless Black and Brown youth found themselves without the necessary tools for virtual learning. “This pandemic is a justice issue and the disproportionate access to resources lights a fire under us.” – Executive Director, Brandon Nicholson, Ph.D.


Motivated by the heightened inequities the pandemic caused, The Hidden Genius Project organized to deliver a broad range of virtual technology and entrepreneurship workshops over the summer through their Catalyst and Community Partnership Programming.

CATALYST PROGRAMS are free single- and multi-day introductory technical workshops and exposure opportunities, led by our Youth Educators, for middle and high school youth of color, including STEM festivals, Tech Slams, and our annual Brothers Code event.

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP programming provides on-site, exposure-based technology workshops delivered by our Youth Educators for local youth throughout the greater Bay Area and Los Angeles. 

Catalyst Program Participants
Community Partnership Participants


OUR YOUTH EDUCATORS are students that graduate from our Intensive Immersion Program, and are trained in partnership with East Oakland Youth Development Center, to support the next generation of Hidden Geniuses and serve as brand ambassadors and educators – delivering content to the greater community (school-age through senior citizens).

In 2020, over 13 Hidden Genius Alumni have been trained and deployed as Youth Educators, leading to 35 in total, who then facilitate workshops for our Intensive Immersion, Catalyst, and Community Partnership Programs.





Through December 31, 2020








For all Intensive
Immersion Program Geniuses


Geniuses eligible to
graduate high school


Of age Geniuses that
have graduated high school


In 2020, The Hidden Genius Project renewed its partnership with Destination College Advising Corps (DCAC) at UC Berkeley, and continued to receive assistance from a full-time College Advisor to provide our students and families with comprehensive services related to college success plans, financial aid, scholarship opportunities, test preparation, and frequent advising.













In addition, we increased our investment and capacity in higher education by partnering with Beyond 12, a high-tech, high-touch coaching platform that expanded college and career readiness services to our Geniuses. This partnership has provided our young people with virtual coaches and support with scholarships, internship opportunities, and financial aid assistance.


Special thanks to all of our 2020 volunteers who supported The Hidden Genius Project both in-person and remotely.


Over the years, the following local restaurants have generously stepped up to the plate to provide meals for our Geniuses. We encourage you to show these businesses some love and support them as they continue to serve our communities during these challenging times.

A Girl Named Pinky  •  Bakesale Betty  •  Big Apple Cafe  •  Catered To You  •  Everett and Jones  •  Kinder’s  •  Ramano’s Macaroni Grill  •  Pinx Catering  •  Pizza Squared SF  •  Trap Kitchen  •  Wingstop  •  Zachary’s Pizza

Their support not only helped us by offsetting costs that can go back into our program, it also provided the fuel our Geniuses need to stay focused during our Intensive Immersion Program.


Total number of meals provided









On November 3rd, The Hidden Genius Project launched a dynamic $150,000 program designed to support our Hidden Genius Alumni through the five phases of startup development, empowering them with the resources, networks, and capital needed to advance their entrepreneurial ambitions.


“This program has allowed me to explore and understand every aspect of a business.”

– Honorebel Walker, OAK3 Hidden Genius Alum


On June 5, 2020, The Hidden Genius Project hosted a virtual graduation ceremony

for all 22 senior graduates (including our first Hidden Genius Alum College Graduate) and
their families featuring special guest speakers Tracy “Ty” Moore (Co-Founder of The Hidden
Genius Project), Mellody Hobson (Co-CEO of Ariel Investments), and
Andre Iguodala (Author, Investor, and 2015 NBA Finals MVP).


As the pandemic continued to exacerbate the achievement gap globally, The Hidden Genius Project partnered with TEAM, Inc., United Tech Cities, Sphero, and Golden State Warriors to launch ts inaugural Global Tech Slam: Beyond the Classroom, a 20-day virtual programming series designed to introduce young people to career pathways. With topics ranging from social justice to venture capital entertainment, 500 young people around the world logged in virtually to learn from industry experts about their inspiring careers.


We hosted our first Tech Slam event in partnership with the Detroit Pistons,

Rocket Fiber, TEAM, Inc., and Google. Throughout the day, 200+ Detroit youth discovered
how technology and STEM fields influence sports through hands-on workshops
focused on health, virtual reality, and computer science.


We continued our partnership with Los Angeles-based Critical Design and Gaming School (C:\DAGS), UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools (CTS), TEAM, Inc., and Muir Middle School to host our 2nd annual I Am Tech event virtually. Over the course of two days, we introduced 187 students to interactive workshops focused on robotics, game design, sports technology, and design thinking concepts.


In partnership with Chevron and Autodesk Black Network,

our student alumni participated in a 6-week AutoCAD virtual internship. From sketching to
designing to 3D-modeling, our young people learned how to develop their tinkering skills
and bring their ideas to life.


2K Sports

49ers FDT EDU

66 North

8th Wall AR

Andreessen Horowitz


AP Racing


Augustus F. Hawkins High School (Critical Design and Gaming School)

BASE Ventures

Berkeley Future Ready Scholars




Blooming Willow

Boston Day and Evening Academy

Carbon Health

California College of the Arts

Capital G

CBS Interactive

City of Oakland (OFCY)

Claremont Middle School

Chelsea FC Foundation





David E. Glover Education and Technology Center

Detroit Pistons

DJ D-Sharp

East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation

East Bay College Fund

East Oakland Youth Development Center


Electronic Arts

Epic Games

Everforward Club

Evergreen Coast Capital


Fam 1st Family Foundation

F.E.B. Communications


Golden State Warriors // Warriors Foundation

Golden State Warriors // Community Team


Head Royce School

Human Capital


Kadi Africa

Kaiser Permanente

Kapor Center

KIPP King Collegiate High School

Know Your Rights Camp

Liberia Forward

Lifting While Climbing, LLC.

Love Pulse

Los Angeles Unified School District

Made in South LA

Manticore Games

Manhattan Venture Partners


Merritt College

MetWest High School

The Motley Fool

Oakland High School

Oakland Natives Give Back

Oakland Unified School District

Oakland Technology Exchange


NASA Ames Research Center




Oakland Natives Gives Back


PlumpJack Group

Python Foundation

The Python Software Foundation


Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL)

Rocket Ventures

RYSE Youth Center

SoLA I CAN Foundation

South LA Robotics

Sony Interactive Entertainment

SPAAT (Student Programming for Academic & Athletic Transitioning)


St. Mary’s College

Swish Analytics

Tech Exchange

Tech Exposure and Access through Mentoring (TEAM)





United Tech Cities

University of California, Berkeley DCAC (Destination College Advising Corps)

University of California, Los Angeles (Center for the Transformation of Schools)

Up to Code Academy


Walker Telescopic Ventures

Warriors Gaming Squad


West Oakland Youth Center

Wheels Lab Inc.

Williams-Sonoma, Inc.


Youth AID Nonprofit

Youth Impact Hub

Zachary’s Chicago Pizza


Akamai Foundation


Another Planet Entertainment

The Andre Tyler Iguodala Living Trust


Armanino Foundation


AT&T Foundation


Bank of America

Base Ventures/PACE


Black Vines ®

Blue Shield of California

Boeing Company

Bonfire Funds Inc.


The BelleJAR Foundation

California Community Foundation

The California Wellness Foundation

Capital One Foundation



City of Oakland (OFCY)

The Clorox Company Foundation

Coinbase Inc.

Comcast Foundation

Commerce Media Holding LLC

Community Finance

Community Finance Wilkerson Diallo N. Oris

The Concrete Rose Community Foundation

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Control Group Donation

COS Philant Cont Gift

DanHakl Family Foundation

Delta Dental Foundation

Del Cielo Brewing Co.

Detroit Pistons

Domino’s Pizza

Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids

DoorDash, Inc.

East Bay Community Foundation


ECMC Foundation

Electronic Arts

Eli & Edythe Broad Foundation

Emerson Collective

Faber Daeufer & Itrato PC

Fastly Inc.

Gap Inc.

Ford Motor Company Fund

Golden State Warriors Community Foundation



Heart and Soul Center of Light

Hellman Foundation

Helzel Family Foundation

Human Capital

Illinois #3 Foundation

Jackbox Games

Jewish Community Federation

Koret Foundation

JP Morgan Chase Foundation

Kaiser Permanente

Kapor Center

Koret Foundation



McKinnon-Stachon Family Trust


MindBlown Labs

Miranda Lux Foundation


Morris Foundation

The Motley Fool, in honor of Malayna Butler

National Philanthropic Trust

Nav Talent Inc.

Norwest Venture Partners


Oakland Athletics

Oaktree Capital

Oaktree – Our Communities Matter

Omaze, Inc.

Quest Foundation

Pacific Gas and Electric

Palayam Foundation

Patrick J McGovern Foundation

Peet’s Coffee & Tea

The Perlmutter Family Foundation

PJS Consultants

Plug and Play Ventures

Port Richmond Optometry

Recurly, Inc.

Ridgeline, Inc.


The San Francisco Foundation

Schox Philanthropy



Sequoia Capital

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Social Good Fund

Sony Interactive Entertainment

SunValley Shopping Center LLC

Survey Monkey Inc.

Take-Two Interactive


Thermo Fisher


User Testing Inc.

United Airlines

United Way

University of California Berkeley

Verizon Foundation

The Vanguard Group

Visa Black Employee Resource Group

Walt Disney

Wells Fargo

Williams-Sonoma, Inc.


Workday Foundation

World Wide Technology Foundation

xMatters, Inc.



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“When we talk about Blacks in tech, we need to frame it from an asset-based lens that recognizes us as sources of incredible innovation.” – Sean Valentine, Director of Strategic Initiatives


As our opportunities to impact young lives continue to blossom,
so must grow the pool of resources we need to propel us forward.