Hack the Hood Expands Youth Tech Training Program with Bay Area Partners

For more information, contact
Susan Mernit,, (650) 814-9303
Zakiya Harris,, (510) 759-5326

Hack the Hood Expands Youth Tech Training Program with Bay Area Partners
Organization scales to serve six times the number of youth in one year

March 23, 2015, Oakland, CA--Hack the Hood announced today the expansion of its program to five new locations in 2015 by partnering with on the ground partners. Hack the Hood will work with Bay Area organizations East Oakland Youth Development Center and MetWest High School of Oakland,  RYSE Youth Center of Richmond, the African American Arts & Culture Complex of San Francisco, and the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula in East Palo Alto to bring a unique tech training model where low-income youth of color learn technology skills by building websites for small businesses during a 6-week boot camp.

“We’re so thrilled to work with such amazing organizations who really know their community inside out the way we know Oakland. That is critically important for success,” said Zakiya Harris, Co-founder and Chief Education Officer of Hack the Hood. “Together with our partners, Hack the Hood will extend our boot camps, programs, and alumni networks to introduce 150 low-income youth to careers in tech and give them the confidence and connections to seek further education and training.” 

Hack the Hood’s leaders cite winning the 2014 Google Bay Area Impact Challenge as the catalyst for their explosive growth over the past year. Last June nearly 200,000 voters participated in the event, which led to a $500,000 grant and other benefits from Google. Since then, the organization has leveraged that support to raise other funds for a Bay Area expansion they hope will lay the groundwork for a national model  that teaches low-income young people of color tech and 21st century skills that lead to careers in tech.

Hack the Hood's program addresses the lack of access to tech training and 21st century skills --and the lack of access to jobs in tech--that is a problem in so many Bay area communities. Every city in the Bay area has residents who don't have access to the tech training, networks and jobs that match their potential, as does every city in the United States.

Hack the Hood approaches their expansion knowing that they’ll need to adapt their program to each organization they partner with, and this influences how they choose their partners. Hack the Hood partners already have rich and successful outreach programs, and are well embedded within their communities. They work with their local chambers of commerce, have a base of referral partners, and are able to build strategic partnerships which already help small businesses. Until partnering with Hack the Hood, they were missing a tech component and will now be able to offer tech training. New Oakland partners East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) and MetWest High School both bring traditions of innovation and service to young people that make them wonderful partners as well.

The need for tech training firmly entered the national conversation last week with the White House’s rollout of theTechHire Initiative, a multi-sector initiative to empower Americans with the skills they need to enter the tech sector through both traditional and nontraditional education paths. Hack the Hood’s expansion is a contribution to a growing movement that recognizes the need to provide tech access, opportunities, and training to low-income youth of color.

"When youth in our program build a website for a small business, they are not only gaining valuable tech skills that can immediately increase their earning potential," said Susan Mernit, Hack the Hood’s CEO and Co-founder, "they are also helping struggling business owners reach more customers, and helping people in low income neighborhoods find the goods and services they need locally, so their money supports jobs close to home. This is the kind of virtuous circle that can be a real game changer for communities that have previously been shut out of the digital economy."