An Oakland native and Princeton graduate, Brandon is working to promote racial equity as the founding Executive Director of The Hidden Genius Project. Brandon has dedicated most of his life to creating pathways for those who are undeniably deserving, but otherwise may not have access to opportunities. The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities. Brandon’s efforts have helped hundreds of students throughout the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and beyond. We sat down with Brandon to learn more about his journey so far.
“I am fortunate to be able to wake up every day and do work that matters for me, my family, and my community. I am incredibly proud to be part of a larger ecosystem doing this work that lifts me up and propels me forward.”
Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2022
What is the mission of The Hidden Genius Project?
The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities. Over the years, I experienced firsthand the impact of injustice and lack of access, but I have also been incredibly fortunate to overcome many of those barriers and experience many forms of opportunity and abundance. Now, we are working tirelessly every day to open these types of doors for our young people to reach their highest potential. Many people associate our organization with technology education and career pathways to Silicon Valley, but we are committed to caring for our young people holistically and empowering them to reach whatever goals they might have.
What’s the most rewarding part of the work you’re doing? What’s the most challenging?
When we see our young people continually rise to the challenge of teaching, mentoring, empowering, and inspiring others — especially other young people. Our alumni of our intensive component supports the majority of our programming — outside of our 15-month Intensive Immersion Program. As Black male youth, they lift up young people from across backgrounds and geographies, thereby putting their massive potential and capabilities on full display.
What’s next for you and your team?
For The Hidden Genius Project, we will celebrate our 10 year anniversary, open our new headquarters this year, launch a new site in Detroit, welcome a number of new team members, and continue to navigate the uncertainty of our global pandemic. We hope to reach and create positive outcomes for many more young people in many more places.
For the ecosystem at large, our ability to advance this work hinges on three major themes: our belief in the capabilities of our communities, our capacity to innovate, and our willingness to collaborate. Our young people possess limitless potential and continually inspire us with their brilliance. What they need is greater access to networks and opportunities. Those networks and opportunities will continue to manifest for our young people through the intentional sharing and coordination of resources among the adults (e.g. community organizations, schools, higher education, industry, government, etc.) and then the young people will do the rest. In fact, each day I observe more and more of our Hidden Geniuses carving out their own paths forward without us; I encourage us to take our opportunity to fall on the right side of history.
What brought you joy during this past year?
One of the things that truly brings me joy is my toddler son’s laughter. It gets me every time.
Meet the other notable #LeadersToWatch at HERE.