For the last 10 years, The Hidden Genius Project has focused on training and mentoring Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills in order to transform their lives and communities across its inaugural site in Oakland, with additional sites in Richmond, Los Angeles, Detroit, and most recently Atlanta. Through a student-centered and project-based approach, they invest in young Black men, give them access to technology training, and plug them into an ecosystem of innovation and empowerment.
Named 2021 Inc’s Best in Business for Youth Entrepreneurship, and in 2022 having received both a $3 million dollar expansion grant from Google.org, and the NBA Foundation grant for the second year in a row, The Hidden Genius Project is utilizing this funding in an effort to bring its innovative programming to Chicago. In addition to support from Google.org and the NBA, Nike, Jordan Brand, and the Jordan Family Foundation have made a significant award to support this Chicago expansion: The Hidden Genius Project will partner with Chicago’s i.c.stars and After School Matters, among other organizations, according to a press release.
“Over the past decade, we have been honored to engage young people across the globe to inspire them to leverage technology to reveal their genius, and we have seen some tremendous results. Even as we have expanded to establish comprehensive sites in Los Angeles and Detroit, we continue to encounter the same brilliance, bold spirit, and infectious leadership qualities among our Black male youth. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to link arms with communities in Chicago so that we might offer our young people an even deeper array of opportunities. There is nothing of consequence that we have ever accomplished alone, and this growth moment will be no different. We are grateful to collaborate with a rich cadre of community and funder organizations, and have an even deeper impact for Chicago youth.” says Brandon Nicholson, Ph.D., Executive Director of The Hidden Genius Project.
As an Oakland-based organization, The Hidden Genius Project has created thoughtful connections; their forthcoming site location in Chicago joins their additional operating sites in Richmond, Calif., Los Angeles, Calif., and Detroit, Mich.. This expansion marks another achievement as this year the organization is celebrating their 10 year anniversary. Last month, The Hidden Genius Project also became the first U.S. non-profit to be featured on a McLaren Formula 1 racing car through Smartsheet’s Sponsor X initiative. The platform replaced its sponsorship logo with The Hidden Genius Project logo, and the nonprofit designed programming in partnership with TEAM, Inc., to connect with Austin-based youth in the first Tech Slam Formula One catalyst event.
The Hidden Genius Project anticipates launching its Chicago-based Intensive Immersion Program cohorts in June 2023. The flagship program is an award-winning, 15-month youth development experience offering upwards of 800 hours of holistic mentorship and intensive training in a cohort-based environment for Black male youths in high school.
Additionally, the organization plans to provide Catalyst Programs in the community, which are free single-and multi-day introductory technical workshops. The Catalyst Programs are designed to demystify, debunk, and expose technology-centered skills and pathways for middle and high school youth, in partnership with community-based organizations, school districts, small businesses, and companies. This peer-led opportunity—facilitated by graduates of The Hidden Genius Project program—aims to ignite interest and expose young people of color to mentors, basic computer programming, and career pathways.