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Tech Non-Profit Spotlight: Hack the Hood

Prior to becoming a writer and communications dork, I was immersed in the non-profit world. From non-profits that focused on the arts to those that offered direct assistance to underserved communities, playing small time Wonder Woman (or trying, at least) was my life.

Although I’m no longer part of that world professionally, it’s still something I’m very passionate about, which is why WebDevStudios’  contribution to the community in both charitable and educational capacities appealed to me immediately. As giving back is part of the heart of WDS (and the big, squishy hearts of our wonderful team), it only made sense for us to turn the lens outward and shine a light on other people in the tech community who are passionate about the same.

As a result, this is the first of a monthly column focusing on different organizations who are doing the good work–the meaty, meaningful stuff–and making the world a better place.

MEET HACK THE HOOD

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Hack the Hood is an Oakland-based non-profit that works with low-income youth of color on building tech and development skills and collaborate with small businesses in their community. Hack the Hood not only provides real world skill training and education, but creates substantive work experience for the young folk in their program. Between workshops, Hack Days, and six week long boot camps, they impart crucial wisdom on entrepreneurial pursuits and leadership skills in addition to technical know-how and the basics of professionalism.

Their programs teach the following skills to the youth they work with:

Soft Skills:

  • customer service
  • idea creation
  • project management
  • DIY learning
  • networking
  • teamwork and collaboration

Technical Skills:

  • HTML 5
  • CSS
  • Javascript
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Web design/web architecture (basic/intermediate)
  • Website Builders
  • Databases
  • SEO

WHO IS BEHIND IT?

According to Henriette Potts, Hack the Hood’s Event, Volunteer & Partner Development Manager, a few members of The Center for Media Change were exploring how they could help low-income youth of color develop skills that would realistically make them eligible for local jobs while also providing support to small businesses that don’t have the funding to the kind of development and technology that increases the success of their business.

Henriette, on their first endeavors:

Funded by The Oakland Fund for Children and Youth, and the Thomas J. Long Foundation, Hack the Hood launched its first full summer program in Oakland in 2013. Eighteen youth took part, ages 16-20. In six weeks, they learned basic web development skills, created sixty websites for local small businesses, and visited tech companies including Pandora, Facebook, and Ask.com, to learn about tech careers. Of the eighteen youth, sixteen completed the whole program — a 92% completion rate — and graduated with online portfolios, hands-on experience with local employers, news skills, and, for many, a deepened interested in tech and marketing careers.

In 2014, they were selected as one of ten non-profits in Google’s Bay Area Impact Challenge , and are currently planning for their 2015 spring and summer boot camps. Henriette told me, “We were beyond thrilled when we were selected as finalists and were awarded a grant of $500,000 towards our expansion in the Bay Area. The Google Impact Challenge has given us the funding to grow and we are looking forward to being in at least four cities in the Bay Area this summer.”

HOW YOU CAN HELP

If you’re at all familiar with the non-profit world, you’ll know that most run on gum, shoestring, and passion; even with Hack the Hood’s relatively recent boon from Google, financial help is always the best way to go. You can donate to Hack the Hood right here!

If you donate, you’ll help them meet their goal of $10,000 for their Oakland Spring and Summer boot camps, as well as provide hardware for the students to work on; each youth is provided a Chromebook, and if they complete all of the milestones of the program, they get to keep it. We all know how important our hardware is when it comes to work, and helping students earn the opportunity to have their own acts not only as incentive to finish, but will help them long beyond the end of the program.

If financial giving isn’t feasible for you at this time, Hack the Hood is open to other types of volunteering–according to Henriette, they’ve had volunteers assist with getting food donations for the boot camps, event planning, envelope stuffing, mentoring, and more. If you want to get involved, you can look into being a mentor or add yourself to the volunteer list.

If you want to keep up with Hack the Hood’s incredible efforts, you can follow them on Twitter and “like” their Facebook page, too, as well as share this link (or heck, just share the link to their donation page).

Know of any amazing non-profits that are using tech to save the world? Give us a shout in the comments and let us know who you’d like to see highlighted on the WDS blog.

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