Hundreds of students learn about coding and tech in seventh annual Brothers Code Tech Slam in Oakland

Hundreds of minority students across the Bay Area tried to get a jump start in the tech industry Saturday morning.

Kapor Center and The Hidden Genius Project, a group geared toward training young people of color in tech and entrepreneurship, hosted the 7th annual Brothers Code Tech Slam at Merritt College.

Men of color are underrepresented in the technology field and it’s a fact felt across the board.

“When I was growing up I never saw anyone that looked like me on the faculty of a college,” said Courtney Brown, co-chair of Business and Technology at Merritt College.

Isaiah Martin, an alumni of The Hidden Genius Project, echoed that sentiment when talking about working in tech in San Francisco, “I’m usually one of the only black males in the room,” he said.

The Brothers Code Tech Slam lets middle and high school aged kids learn about coding and programing and play with technology. They even got a music lesson from D’Wayne Wiggins with Tony! Toni! Toné!

“We’re trying to expose them to as much as possible from sports and gaming to music and help them see how technology weaves itself throughout all of that,” said Brandon Nicholson, executive director of The Hidden Genius Project.

The event being hosted at a college gave students a chance to network and plan for their futures. Merritt College offers dual enrollment so teens can get high school credit while taking college courses.

“They can take the Intro to Computer Science program, which will lead them to cyber security. We’re currently number one in the silver bracket of national competition in cyber security,” said Brown.

Events like this really help. Martin, now a junior majoring in Computer Science at Dartmouth College, got his start The Hidden Genius Project, “Visiting tech companies, learning how to code and forming a brotherhood really got me drawn into tech,” he said.

He’s inspiring the younger generation, like 14 year old Cam’Ron Rollins, to reach high. “I want to get a major in Computer Science and maybe a masters in that,” said Rollins.