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Google, The City fund Mission nonprofit tapping local youth for jobs in tech

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Student Nancy Okun works on her professional webiste while at the dev/Mission headquarters in San Francisco’s Mission District Tuesday, September 5, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

A Mission District-based nonprofit organization working to connect untapped youth from digitally disconnected communities to careers in the tech sector is poised to receive more than $225,000 in grant funding from The City and tech giant Google to expand its job training program.

Since dev/Mission was founded less than two years ago, the “tech incubator” has trained more than 60 students and boasts an 80 percent graduation rate. It has placed some two dozen young adults in internships and jobs in tech — an industry that is notorious for lacking minority representation in its workforce.

The City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development is contributing a total of $125,000 in funding to expand the organization’s skills training and apprenticeship programs. The funding is allocated via the agency’s TechSF program and will support dev/Mission’s outreach to youth ages 17-14 and enrollment into training programs focused on coding skills.

“It will also allow dev/Mission to connect students to mentors in technology while placing students in apprenticeships,” said OWED spokesperson Gloria Chan, adding that the goal of the apprenticeship “would be for the student to enter eventually into a full time position with the employer.”

Last Thursday, Google also sealed its partnership with the organization with a $100,000 grant. Rebecca Prozan, chief of public affairs for Google in California, said that the company “wants to make sure that we expand the diversity pipeline with a local focus.”

“Tehc is science, and science is an unfamiliar language for a lot of people,” she said, adding that the company is working supporting efforts thats that offer exposure to tech in underrepresented communities.

In that respect, dev/Mission is bridging an important gap. Sosa, she said, “knocks on doors, gets to know the parents, and gets familiar with the living situations” of the young people enrolled in his program.

“Dev/Mission has been successful at bringing tech to the community, instead of bringing the community downtown,” she said.

Since its inception, dev/Mission has operated out of computer lab at 360 Valencia St., inside of Valencia Gardens, an affordable housing community. Founder Leo Sosa is currently working to expand dev/Mission’s programs in Bayview Hunters Point, in partnership with the San Francisco Housing Corporation.

Sosa said that his program aims to address the opportunity gap and digital divide affecting youth from disadvantaged communities throughout San Francisco, and hopes to expand the program to its various neighborhoods.

“The grant allows us to bring supportive services other areas for assessment and making sure the young people receive the right training,” he said.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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