Google’s philanthropic arm has announced a $1 million grant to the Oakland-based Hidden Genius Project, which trains and mentors black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills.
Google.org explained that the award is just one part of a much larger effort to increase diversity in technology. noting that Hidden Genius Project does a wonderful job of helping young black males become role models in technology development that, in turn, will spur others to follow suit.
“One reason behind a lack of representation is perception,” the company wrote in a blog post on the topic. “According to our research with Gallup, students are five times more likely to take an interest in computer science if they often see people who look like them in that field. As we often say, ‘you have to see it to be it.'”
The Hidden Genius Project is not new to Google. The company first recognized the group in 2015 as a finalist (and subsequent winner) of the Google Impact Challenge, which included a $500,000 grant.
Since that time, the organization has reached more than 1,700 Oakland area students through a variety of workshops, events, and an entrepreneur bootcamp program.
Google has granted tens of millions to clubs and organizations focused on increasing diversity in technology with women, minorities and others. There is also an economic benefit to these efforts, since the technology sector increasingly faces a deficit in qualified applicants.
The Hidden Genius Project was launched in 2012 by five black male entrepreneurs and technologists who recognized the immense chasm that existed between sky high unemployment levels with black male youth and the Bay Area’s historically strong employment opportunities in the technology sector.
In response, “the founders established a program to connect young black males with the skills, mentors, and experiences that they need to become high-performing entrepreneurs and technologists in a 21st century, global economy.”