OAKLAND -- After spending six weeks training in Web and tech skills, Oakland youth will celebrate their success Monday with an awards ceremony.

This summer, 16 youth members were taughthow to code and they used that knowledge to build websites for businesses, as well as listings for the businesses in Google Maps. The students were part of the first six-week Hack the Hood program this summer, which tries to expose youth to a potential career in tech industry.

"This program exposes youth to good jobs in tech that they can learn how to do," said Susan Mernit, program director for Hack the Hood. "At the same time, they're also helping solve a really big problem with local small businesses."

Throughout the free program, students built sites and created listings for more than 50 local businesses. With the help of lead Web tech trainer Juan Gomez and program manager Zakiya Harris students were able to learn through workshops and lectures.

Tech companies also came in to mentor the students about professional development and students visited companies such as Facebook and Pandora to further advance their knowledge.

"I think it's really important to instill this kind of awareness within black and brown communities in Oakland," Gomez said. "For me, to see the program go on and continue working with these youth, that would be the best."


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Gomez said some of the students he worked with who initially said they were not interested in a career in tech have since decided to participate in Web-based internships. He added that participants also improved on speaking skills and developed their strengths.

Monday's celebration will honor the participants, as well as local merchants, instructors and technology companies who played a role in the program. The program is funded by a three-year summer grant.

Mernit said Hack the Hood received a great deal of support and help from the community and added that she hopes it will continue to grow in the future.

"I think for these kids it's been really transformational. We would like to reach more kids," Mernit said. "It creates a virtuous circle with helping the youth in a way that's immediate and practical and it also helps local businesses."

hack the hood
What: Hack the Hood awards ceremony honoring Oakland youth who spent the summer learning Web and tech skills
When: 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19
Where: East Bay Community Foundation conference center, 200 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland
Tickets: Purchase ticket for event: http://hackthehood.eventbrite.com/