The Hidden Genius Project Competes for Grant from Google

Out of nearly 800 applicants, The Hidden Genius Project, an education technology nonprofit based in Oakland, California, was selected by a panel of advisers for its cutting-edge approach to empowering young black males to become innovators and community leaders.

The program trains and mentors underserved, black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership to transform their lives and communities. From Sept. 29 to Oct. 20, the public can vote to help The Hidden Genius Project win a total of $500,000 from

[Related: Creative Entrepreneurs Can Compete For $50,000]

With funding from, The Hidden Genius Project will launch a multi-year intensive program to serve a total of 2,000 black male youth over the next three years. This innovative program is working to increase the number of young black men in tech by teaching them how to conceive and develop tech-enabled solutions for their communities. The boom of the tech industry has created immense economic opportunity, but it had been largely inaccessible to various communities of color. In 2011, black people represented 11% of the total workforce, but only 6% of workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM occupations, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Founding Executive Director Brandon Nicholson, Ph.D., said in a statement, “Our students are creating innovative solutions for problems that aren’t even on the radar of most people in the Valley. If we empower these young men to build an entrepreneurial foundation, we can show them that they don’t have to wait for a grand paradigm shift from the tech sector. They can build a network and become agents of change right now.”

To date, 350 young black men have participated in The Hidden Genius Project’s Immersion and Catalyst programs. As part of the Immersion program, the students receive 700+ hours of intensive technical and entrepreneurial training that allows them to conceive, build, and market their own software applications over the course of 15 months.

Justin Steele, Bay Area giving lead at Google, said in a statement, “The Hidden Genius Project’s work to empower local black youth with cutting-edge technology, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills is the type of high-impact idea that the Google Impact Challenge: Bay Area seeks to foster. These programs have the potential to greatly improve the lives of local residents for many years to come, and we are excited to support them.”

The funds from the Google Impact Challenge will help The Hidden Genius Project achieve its mission of becoming the leading incubator of high-performing black male entrepreneurs and technologists. Within the next six months, The Hidden Genius Project will also extend targeted services to youth who might not typically access core programming, including youth in foster care, youth in the juvenile justice system, and student athletes.

To vote for The Hidden Genius Project, go to

For more information on The Hidden Genius Project, go to