Graduates of Hidden Genius Project honored in L.A. 

By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — A group of young Blacks were honored Oct. 5 for completing a 15-month program that taught technology, creation, entrepreneurship and leadership skills through the Hidden Genius Project, a national nonprofit organization.

The end-of-summer celebration at the Proud Bird Bazaar and Events Center honored 44 youth who celebrated their graduation from the student-centered and project-based intensive immersion program by showcasing their skills at coding and demonstrating their unique websites.

Similar celebrations were held in five other cities, including Oakland and Richmond, California, Detroit, Atlanta and Chicago.

The Hidden Genius Project prepares high school students with 800 hours of hands-on mentorship and training in computer science, software development, entrepreneurship and leadership. But the majority of the young men in the project were excited about the brotherhood of mentors and teachers who helped them to bolster their confidence, sharpen their leadership skills while providing inspiration and empowerment as they aspire to become the future generation of Black tech leaders.

Founded in Oakland in 2012 by five Black male entrepreneurs who were concerned about the high unemployment rate of Black male youth and wanted to take advantage of the numerous career opportunities available in technology. The entrepreneurs established a program to connect young Black males with the skills, mentors and experiences that they needed to become high-performing entrepreneurs in the emerging 21st century global economy. 

Employment opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math have become the fastest growing segment of jobs in the U. S., with 71% of new jobs involving computing. 

Brandon Nicholson, CEO of the Hidden Genius Project, said, “We are grateful for all of the hidden geniuses and their families. You don’t have the Hidden Genius Project without hidden geniuses.

“You don’t have hidden geniuses without the families that support them,” he added. “… We know that each of our geniuses is leading the next generation of geniuses coming behind them.”

The organization’s vision statement supports young Black males and points out that Black youths are working toward a future where their genius is celebrated, realized and shines everyday and is no longer hidden, suppressed or belittled.

Jacob Daniels. a Hidden Genius participant who received the Eugene “Baba” Lemon Award for his business, said, “My business is TutorBot which helps struggling students and students who are not doing well in school to succeed. My mission is to ensure all students unlock their full potential, do good in school and succeed. My tutoring supports all subjects.”

Another participant, Jokim Bryant said, “The Hidden Genius Project provided me with a family. I walked into the program with only two brothers, but I left with over 100. Over the course of the 15 months, I was able to grow with them and understand what my purpose was in life, which is to give back and support others.”

Isaiah Martin said, “The Hidden Genius Project played a major role in not just exposing me to the tech industry, but also teaching me how to think critically, solve problems and use a growth mindset to further my skills.”

“The Hidden Genius Project is everything to me because they always had my back, no matter what,” said Honorebel Walker. “As a young Black man, they exposed me to the possibilities of technology and opened my mind to the world of entrepreneurship.”

Members of the Hidden Genius Project flew to London on Oct 9 to take part in the third annual Tech Slam UK in collaboration with Chelsea FC Foundation, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, TEAM, Inc., Oakland Natives Give Back, and Colorintech. Notable sponsors include Uber, Marqeta, United, Comcast NBC Universal, Smartsheet and Goldman Sachs.

During the week, Tech Slam UK offered participants in the Hidden Genius Project an opportunity to connect with young people of color in London with extraordinary three days dynamic programs and workshops.

Tech Slam UK exposed more than 200 young people of color to technical and non-technical career pathways through hands-on and culturally relevant programming. The events were a convergence of two worlds — sports and technology — designed to challenge preconceptions and open doors for youth of color. 

The Hidden Genius Project, which was named Best in Business and Youth Entrepreneurship by 2021 Inc, is currently accepting applications for its 2024 cohort of geniuses online at

Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at