A Youth of Color Pipeline from Oakland to Silicon Valley

02 Jul 2015 | Joe Brooks
A Youth of Color Pipeline from Oakland to Silicon Valley

We are witnessing a major demographic shift to a majority people of color nation, likely by the year 2043. At the same time, the technology sector is flourishing and has become a pillar of our economy. Acting now to connect youth of color—the country’s future workforce—to the growing technology sector is in the nation’s best interest, and an emerging partnership in Oakland is doing just that.

The partnership consists of:

  • #YesWeCode, a national effort led by Van Jones that, like Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH coalition, draws attention to the underrepresentation of people of color in the technology sector;
  • The Hidden Genius Project, which is pursuing opportunities to scale up its efforts to train Bay Area youth of color to build programming and coding skills;
  • The David E. Glover Education and Technology Center, which has been providing technology training for young and older residents in the underserved, low-income East Oakland community for the past 15 years; and
  • The Brotherhood of Elders Network, an intergenerational network of African American men with the mission of assisting African American boys to reach their potential, contribute to community, and thrive.

 

The project will get off the ground this summer with an eight-week pilot coding skill building program for 20 youth of color, which will lead to a year-round coding program for up to 50 youth of color at the Glover Center, starting this fall.

On June 19, this unique partnership was featured on MSNBC’s The Cycle during a live broadcast, including a town hall with Oakland residents at the David Glover Education and Technology Center. The town hall conversation was intergenerational, with African American boys—ages 14-18—listening, learning, and asking questions of elders, successful African American entrepreneurs, and a Facebook executive.

The broadcast and town hall also focused on the complementary values and win-win outcomes of the emerging partnership: #YesWeCode brings in a national constituency of interest, Hidden Genius can scale up years of coding experience, the Glover Center has trained low-income communities of color on technology for years, and the Brotherhood of Elders network brings decades of combined experience, wisdom, and political and resource connections—the Brotherhood will also provide youth in the coding cohort with coaching, mentoring, and soft skill development tools.

Equity advocates need to follow and support this partnership—what better time to get on board, when youth of color are our emerging leaders and the technology sector is the major economic engine of the future?