By: Caleb Pugh, Our Weekly Los Angeles
Date: Thursday, March 2, 2023
Non Profit organizations that work for the community
will never go unnoticed by the people who benefit from them.
Nonprofits are essential to surviving and providing for many families, especially those in low-income communities. While their work is appreciated and valued, many struggle financially to keep their doors open and provide the same support over time. Salesforce has taken on this issue and decided to be part of the solution.
Salesforce created the Catalyst Fund, which grants $100,000 each to 20 nonprofits.
“We think about change and where that change occurs. With this second round of funding, we targeted 10 Black-led organizations to support them and their great work,” Salesforce VP of Philanthropy, Dr. Ron Smith said. “They only get 4% of the funding but make up 10% of the non-profits, which shows the disconnect. They have the greatest need, and there is a huge gap, and Salesforce wanted to step in and help.”
One non profit that is benefitting from the funding is The Hidden Genius Project.
“We were honored to receive one of those grants because it let us increase our capacity internally and allowed us to provide professional development for our staff, youth, and educators and help support 200 geniuses and 280 alumni,” said Kayla Mason, Hidden Genius Project regional director of the western U.S.
The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities. Smith explains why The Hidden Genius Project was chosen for the Catalyst Funding.
“We need people in front of young Black boys that can support them, their beliefs, and put the time into shaping their long-term vision. We wanted to partner with organizations that provide that model and opportunity to support Black boys with the guidance of Black men,” Smith said. “This organization is doing an amazing job in the community, and with me being an Oakland native, it was a no-brainer for me.”
The Hidden Genius Project organization originated in Oakland, but now has outreach programs in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago. The organization focuses on Black boys and teaches them how to develop computer and tech skills.
“We spend over 800 hours with every student helping develop coding and tech skills and helping to show them what it looks like to show up as a community leader,” Mason said as she explained the core beliefs of the organization. “Our core philosophy is the Ngoni Buntu phrase, I am because we are. Hence we are because I am! This is embodied in all of our programs.”
The Hidden Genius Project offers programs centered around tech and computer skills development, community outreach, entrepreneurship, and alumni support. The signup process for the organizations is for junior and senior boys in high school, and the application process varies from city to city.