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40 Underprivileged High School Seniors Take Hack Reactor Intro Course For Free

Owen Poindexter

40 Underprivileged High School Seniors Take Hack Reactor Intro Course For Free's Image

Since Hack Reactor grad Tyson Daugherty founded Mission Bit, a nonprofit that teaches technical skills to high schoolers, Hack Reactor and Mission Bit have been frequent collaborators on community-focused projects. Recently, the two organizations teamed up to teach free introductory coding courses to high school seniors from underprivileged and underrepresented backgrounds. The month-long, afterschool course used the curriculum from our beginner’s class, Reactor Prep. It was attended by 40 high school seniors across three San Francisco locations and taught by four Hack Reactor alumni, who volunteered their time.

Over 60 hours, these high school seniors participated in a course that has vaulted many people from novice to being able to attend Hack Reactor’s immersive program. The Reactor Prep sequence teaches computer science fundamentals through JavaScript. Students are capable of building build websites and apps when they leave. At least four of these high schoolers are interested in attending Hack Reactor either before or in place of college. This is not an uncharted path: many teenagers have taken our course in place of a 4-year college, and they are now employed as software engineers.

Mission Local reported on the course, noting that its goal was “to make a career in tech a possibility for those students who want it, but do not have the means or resources to pursue it on their own.” This round completed in March, and we are in talks to offer Reactor Prep to a new group of high schoolers.

  Students participated in the coding course held at Mission Economic Development Agency. Photo by Laura Waxmann, Mission Local.
Students participated in the coding course held at Mission Economic Development Agency. Photo by Laura Waxmann, Mission Local.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been exposed to coding, and I was skeptical at first because I was told that computer science is challenging,” Giselle Aguoyo, a senior at John O’Connell High School, told Mission Local. “It’s not what I expected at all, it’s fun. I wish this was part of the curriculum in my school.”

The course was made possible through the combined efforts of a number of groups and individuals. In addition to Hack Reactor and Mission Bit, the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) provided space and resources for the course. MEDA, which focuses on providing community, skills and resources to Latinos in San Francisco’s Mission area, has a handful of students who are now interested in attending Hack Reactor. Hack Reactor alumni Preethi Kasireddy, Rick Avendano, Erik Brown and Tad Whitaker generously volunteered their weekday evenings for a month to teach these courses.

“There is a sense of urgency around [technology] jobs,” Mission Bit CEO Stevon Cook noted. “There’s a huge affordability and income inequality issue in the city and these jobs are high paying  — putting them in the hands of the communities that we serve gives them an opportunity to earn those salaries and afford to live in this city as well.”

We are always on the lookout for opportunities to use our industry-leading curriculum to benefit underprivileged and underrepresented people and communities. This work extends from our neighbors in San Francisco, to our work with The Last Mile at San Quentin State Prison, to our partnership with the Moringa School in Kenya. Our values are also reflected by our connection to partner school Telegraph Academy, focused on increasing diversity in tech, and Operation Spark, a program in our extended network focused on teaching marketable skills to disconnected youth in New Orleans. If your organization is interested in working with us to make an impact, get in touch with us here.

Read more:

Telegraph Academy Cofounder Explains how Hack Reactor Helped Turn His Life Around at White House Demo Day

Grad of First Hack Reactor Class Selected as Code for America Fellow

Hack Reactor Pilots TechHire Initiative with New Orleans Non-Profit Operation Spark