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Hack the Hood is a Google Bay Area Impact Challenge Top 10 Finalist:

Project empowers 5,000 youth and 25,000 small businesses through tech

Hack the Hood is a Top 10 finalist in the 2014 Google Bay Area Impact Challenge and will receive $250,000 in Google funding to expand the program to all five counties in the Bay Area.  In addition, the public has the opportunity to vote for Hack the Hood to receive another $250,000 in support via an online campaign running from May 22 - June 2. 

Hack the Hood is a unique program that trains and mentors low-income youth of color in tech and web development and then deploys them to construct mobile-friendly websites for local businesses. 

"When youth in our program build a website for a small business, they are not only gaining valuable tech skills that can immediately increase their earning potential," said co-director Susan Mernit, "they are also helping struggling business owners reach more customers, and helping people in low income neighborhoods find the goods and services they need locally, so their money supports jobs close to home.  This is the kind of virtuous circle that can be a real game changer for communities that have previously been shut out of the digital economy."

In addition to offering training and real-world work experience, Hack the Hood teaches youth about the tech careers.  The program integrates professionals working in technology fields as mentors, guest speakers, and field-trip hosts so that youth get introduced to the variety of jobs open to them if they stick to their education and career goals.  Program participants get to visit companies like Google, Facebook, Weebly, Pandora,Ask.com and others to see where the tech they use every day is made.

"This is an amazing opportunity for Hack the Hood to take this model and bring it to other cities in the Bay Area.  It is a huge vote of confidence in our model," said co-director Zakiya Harris, "but we need everyone to vote!"

Get more information on Hack the Hood and the voting campaign at votehackthehood.com
Other ways the public can support Hack the Hood during the campaign:

2) Join our Mailing list at www.votehackthehood.comand forward our communications to friends
3) Promote us on social media: Like, Comment and Share us on Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumbler:
Sample messages:
      @hackthehood #top10 #GoogleImpactChallenge. Vote now to train 5,000 youth to build websites for 25K small businesses www.votehackthehood.com
      Is your kid forever online? We channel that pet peeve into a career path.  #votehackthehood for #googleimpactchallenge
      Support tech careers for low income youth AND better visibility for local small business www.votehackthehood.com  #GoogleImpactChallenge
      www.votehackthehood.com to bring together #SiliconValley #lowincomeyouth & #smallbusinesses to prepare next generation #tech #leaders

4) Post your selfie as part of our viral campaign: Take a picture with our “I Voted Hack the Hood” sign (found at: http://www.votehackthehood.com/add-your-voice.html)  then take a selfie that shares why you voted Hack the Hood.  Post your selfie on social media, using the hashtags #googleimpactchallenge and #votehackthehood!
5) Attend an event with your friends: we’ll be hosting and attending meetups and events throughout the campaign.  Find a list at: http://www.votehackthehood.com/events.html

Google Bay Area Impact Challenge voting site: g.co/bayareachallenge
Campaign site for Hack the Hood: votehackthehood.com
Hack the Hood: hackthehood.org

Follow Hack the Hood on Social Media
      Facebook http://facebook.com/hackthehood
      Twitter https://twitter.com/hackthehood
      Instagram http://instagram.com/hackthehood
      Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/hackthehood/
      Tumblr http://hackthehood.tumblr.com/

Founded in 2012, Hack the Hood is changing the way low income youth learn tech skills by giving them the training and confidence to  go into their neighborhoods and create mobile-friendly websites for small local businesses.  This hands-on learning approach is supported by mentoring, career planning, and visits to technology companies where students talk and interact with engineers, product developers, UI/UX designers, and community managers so they can make connections between the work they are doing, further education, and real-world jobs. 

About the Center for Media Change
Hack the Hood is a project of the Center for Media Change, a 501c3 founded in 2007 that focuses on using media and technology to educate in ways that affect positive social change. Other CMC projects include OaklandLocal, a local news site that reaches more than 90,000 local readers every month, mostly based in Oakland and San Francisco, and Live Work Oakland, a site tracking tech startups and business innovators in Oakland, CA through an interactive map and business directory.


Susan Mernit, Hack the Hood Co-Director
Susan Mernit is a nationally-recognized journalist, blogger, social entrepreneur, trainer, educator.  A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit left Silicon Valley to pursue journalism and mission-driven enterprises.  She is the co-founder, editor & publisher of Oakland Local (oaklandlocal.com) a news & community hub for Oakland, CA. Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012 Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including Salon.com, TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Mernit is a nationally recognized trainer and curriculum developer in the areas of web metrics, social media marketing and civic engagement,  and making free web services accessible to residents in underserved communities. She is a circuit rider for The KnightCommunity Information Challenge and a facilitator for The Knight Digital Media Center at The Annenberg School of Journalism, USC.  Mernit has been developing curriculum since 1998, and created a program in New York in 2000 at Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, NYC and West High School in New York that taught skills to high school students that was replicated across the city for 3 years. In 2011, she launched Code for Oakland (codeforoakland.org), a one-day tech event focused on building apps to serve Oakland community that repeats yearly.

Zakiya Harris, Hack the Hood Co-Director
Zakiya Harris is a social change strategist, educator, artist.  She works at the intersection of entrepreneurship, environmental education & creative transformation. Zakiya is a co-founder of the nationally recognized projects Impact Hub Oakland, Grind for the Green, Earthseed Consulting, and a Fellow of Green For All and BoldFood. As a programming strategist for Impact Hub Oakland, she facilitates  support and scholarships to mission driven entrepreneurs dedicated to accelerating possibilities for a better world. Zakiya was recently appointed Director of the Bay Area Hive Learning Network, a regional laboratory that brings together educators, technologists and mentors to design innovative, connected educational experiences for youth. In addition, she is retained as a consultant by a diverse set of leaders managing programs where culturally relevant education and cross sector collaboration are seen as assets.  Zakiya’s twelve years of experience in arts and equal access movements includes a combination of management, teaching and presenting at Green Festivals, TEDx Denver Education, Global Exchange and the Youth Leadership Institute, Toyota Motors, Inc., the US Department of Agriculture, the US Department of State Bureau of Cultural & Educational Affairs and the NAACP National Convention. She served as the first African-American Regional Director of the San Francisco Green Festival, received the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights Future Leaders award. She also recently accepted the Tutorpedia Foundation Award for Personalizing Education.  Zakiya holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from Rutgers University, and attended New College of Law before leaving to pursue her lifelong passion of teaching. Applying her performance arts talents as a dancer, vocalist and actor, Zakiya has taught culturally and creatively-driven classes to elementary, high school and college students.  Currently, Zakiya is preparing for the release of her first solo music project “Adventures of Shapeshifter.” A proud California native, her highest honor in life is being a mother.

For more information, contact
Susan Mernit, susan@oaklandlocal.com, (650) 814-9303
Zakiya Harris, zakiya@oaklandlocal.com, (510) 759-5326

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