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Mission Bit, a local non-profit offering free programming classes taught by experienced engineers and entrepreneurs, joins Hack Reactor in an exciting partnership that was announced Friday night at Mission Bit’s Demo Day, an event where Mission Bit students showcased their projects. The partnership between Hack Reactor and Mission Bit will create a track for San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) alums to attend a series of Hack Reactor network courses, enabling them to get software engineering positions in the area. SFUSD is the seventh largest school district in California, educating over 57,000 students every year. Utilizing project-based learning similar to Hack Reactor’s curriculum, Mission Bit provides a space for young San Francisco-based teens to build core computer science concepts and practical application skills to help them succeed in the tech job sector.
“We’re excited to be working with Mission Bit, and their CEO Stevon Cook, to extend this opportunity to Mission Bit students. We have a vision to bring coding education to residents of public housing in San Francisco,” Hack Reactor cofounder Shawn Drost announces during his speech at Demo Day. "Together we’re launching our pilot for the spring of 2016 with the intent to place graduates into public and private sector jobs.”
Candidates for the program will attend Mission Bit this coming fall before moving on to attend Reactor Prep, our part-time code ramp course. From there, the candidates will join Hack Reactor’s onsite or Remote Beta program in the spring.
Sitting in front a sprawling white board brandishing the names of numerous tech companies, Mission Bit CEO Stevon Cook shares his opinion on the importance of such a partnership. “Having grown up [here], living in public housing, I know at a visceral level what an education and a job can do for a young person,” said Cook in his opening remarks at Demo Day.
Cook recognized the need for a local, not-for-profit leader in helping inner-city students learn the skills needed to not only jumpstart their career, but to be able to work in the city they grew up in. “Given the boom, unemployment is as low as it’s ever been – partially fueled by the tech boom; but now we’re running into the issue where long-time residents can’t participate because they don’t have the skills.”
With over 100K more employed people in San Francisco than only years ago and an unemployment rates of only 3.4% at current, the issue of putting local youth into the market hasn’t been smooth.
“Consider [the fact that] we have 17,000 students that attend high school in San Francisco in our public education system [and] this year only 836 [of those students] took a computer science course.” With 25 students enrolled in Mission Bit’s summer program and three interns at Hack Reactor, this number is expected to grow and Cook has big plans for the partnership.
“To create this pipeline is really bold and important for this city,” Cook says, adding in his excitement about the chance to work with Hack Reactor. “We needed a company that was willing to take the lead and show this group of residents how to work in the tech industry.”
“I don’t think I can state how huge this can be in terms of ending generational poverty, and coming from that in this city and seeing how it plays out in the lives of people – if we do this right, it can change lives,” Cook says. “The systemic issues that help perpetuate issues, black communities falling through the cracks that looks at entry into city college, they have dismal graduation rates -- they’ve had to take a ton of remedial classes and work to stay afloat in the city. Being able to create a window into a place with a clear job is a two-track approach: the more we can educate them now, the more they will be likely to be employed, and can be a positive influence for their kids.”
Mission Bit hopes the pipeline will have created one million new jobs and one million new computer science college graduates through the growth of their high school program and similar partnerships.