Young adults participate in tech competition for inner-city kids

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Two dozen inner-city students competed in a Hack-A-Thon in San Francisco Thursday to see who could create the best website in just five hours.

But before they got to the roomful of computers, the young people -- who are most in their early 20s -- had to overcome enormous obstacles. Some have been through foster care, and others homelessness. All have grown up with little or no money.

"I've had to figure things out on my own. I didn't always have the help around," said 22-year-old Emmanuel Cook.

But now Cook believes he's found a way to help himself and his family: by pursuing a career in high tech.

Cook and his fellow students are completing a six-week boot camp with a non-profit based in Oakland called Hack-The-Hood, dedicated to bringing high tech job training to the inner city.

"They really haven't had the educational opportunities that you and i may have grown up with. But they are super-motivated," said Mary Fuller, an executive with Hack-The-Hood.

The goal is to learn more and find a job that will take them from the mean streets to a position in high tech.

"My hope is that I will get to work for a tech company like Google or Facebook. I am really aiming for Google. They are really dope to me," said 21-year-old Sarah Crawford, who lives in East Oakland.

These are not necessarily pipe dreams. There is a shortage of computer technicians.

"We have to figure out innovative ways to get more and more segments of society in that group of computer science trained people," said Sandeep Dadlani, Executive Vice President of Infosys, a worldwide IT company.

The students are learning about marketing, networking, design and the art of computer coding.

Cook told KTVU that computer coding was his favorite part. We asked if he was becoming a nerd.

"I would say so now," he laughed.