A handful of tech entrepreneurs were determined to help promising young black men uncover their “hidden genius” with an intensive training program that fosters coding and entrepreneurial chops as well as confidence. They built The Hidden Genius Project without paychecks and on a string-bean budget.
“There is so much going on in the world of tech that they did not want these young men to miss out,” said Nicholson, a Princeton grad who grew up in Oakland.
The founders — Jason Young, Tracy “Ty” Moore II, Kilimanjaro Robbs, Kurt Collins and Isaak Hayes — tapped Nicholson to become the nonprofit’s founding executive director in February. He was instrumental in helping Hidden Genius land a prestigious $500,000 grant from Google.
Seventeen young men have completed the program which entails a rigorous summer program plus once a week after school and one Saturday a month. The current cohort is the largest yet: 19 teens started in June.
Nicholson says he’s inspired each day by the young men in the program such as Mathew who went from failing grades in calculus to studying computer science at Cal State East Bay with designs on becoming a software engineer.