By Ryan Velez
The STEM industry has been seen as a land of opportunity for earnings and potential for jobs, but Black men seem to be on the outside looking in. NewsOne reports that Google granted $1 million to a non-profit organization that is dedicated to creating a stronger Black male presence in tech to try and fix this issue.
The Hidden Genius Project, based out of Oakland, California, is the lucky recipient of the massive gift, receiving it at the “Tech Slam” event which was hosted in Silicon Valley, reported by the Huffington Post. The organization provides Black boys with the tools and education to become successful in the tech industry. Participants in the program take classes that cover everything from computer programming to problem-solving. They also are taught how to use their skills in a wide set of professions.
The grant itself was given through Google’s philanthropic arm Google.org, and will support efforts to introduce the Hidden Genius Project in other underserved cities, along with training more staff to help Black youth. To date, the Hidden Genius Project has served over 1,700 students in the Bay Area.
“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,” Justin Steele, of Google.org, said in a statement. “This work builds on over $35 million in Google.org grants focused on providing opportunities for underrepresented students to become pioneers of technology, and we’re excited to see how The Hidden Genius Project uses this new grant.”
This doesn’t mark the only equation where the Project made use of a donation towards its very important mission. Two years ago, the foundation received $500,000 after becoming finalists in Google’s Impact Challenge. Brandon Nicholson, executive director of The Hidden Genius Project, told Black Enterprise that the grant will be an integral part of furthering their mission to show underserved youth that they have the power to be “change agents” in their community.
This is quite an important time for such a donation to be made. Despite initiatives from many companies to try and promote diversity, several tech giants are still being called out for stagnant numbers of minority hires. As a result, blacks may need to do that much more to get ahead in tech.