What Google’s grant means for The Hidden Genius Project

Editor’s note: Today’s post is authored by Brandon Nicholson, PhD, an Oakland, California native and the founding Executive Director of The Hidden Genius Project, a Google.org grantee. Brandon has dedicated his life to promoting equity in the public realm, particularly in the education space.

The mission of The Hidden Genius Project is to train and mentor Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities. Our vision is to be a global leader in this work and an incubator of dynamic young technologists (who we call Geniuses). Through our comprehensive support model, starting with our 15-month Intensive Immersion Program, The Hidden Genius Project works to bolster both workforce development as well as youth-driven leadership, resulting in stronger economies and more equitable communities.

Today, The Hidden Genius Project received a $3 million Google.org grant to expand our program to two additional cities and reveal hundreds of more Geniuses. This will afford us the resources to join arms with a broader array of communities to support and elevate the potential of our Black boys and young men.

We first connected with Google.org in 2015, when we were a finalist for the Google.org Bay Area Impact Challenge. I thought it was a long shot, but taking the risk of applying has opened up many pathways for us. After we found out we received funding, we partnered with TEAM Inc. to create the Tech Slam series, a program that introduces youth to the intersection of sports and technology. We have since hosted a dozen Tech Slam events across three continents.

Fast forward seven years and nearly 8,500 young people served globally, the impact of our work became clear when some of our Genius alumni recently visited Google’s Bay Area campus. These young men first visited Google as high school students, where they were closely coached through the experience. This time, they were confident, rising entrepreneurs capable of commanding a room.

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