In this Brands for Good, we sat down with Tiffany Shumate, the Executive Director at Hack the
Hood to learn more about the organization and the amazing work they are doing. Hack the Hood
launched in 2013 with a mission to build a tech sector that works for everyone. They do this by
providing technology education and workforce opportunities to early career youth of color, ages

To deepen their technical skills and career development, youth serve as digital marketing and
technology consultants to local small businesses. They build websites and leverage analytics to
help entrepreneurs drive revenue.

As one of the first organizations in this field, Hack the Hood has a commitment to implementing a
project-based, rigorous curriculum that is relevant to the communities they serve.

AU: Tell us about Hack the Hood

Shumate: We are an organization that is rooted in Oakland and our history. We were one of the first technology social profit organizations with our mission and the original three founders wanted to bring in youth from
different communities in Oakland and introduce them to tech through a creative lens. I think we
will all agree that there is an image of techies that is not necessarily inclusive from a gender, racial,
or education background. That was their mission.

They started with web design thinking we can introduce students to the basics, introduce them to
consulting with small businesses to learn about an organization and a culture, and how do you
translate that to a visual website.

After receiving a Google grant we started to work with students, and that was really the root of
the programing. It grew over the past seven years to include 6 and 9 week bootcamps with tech
foundations around coding and code switching. Some of our students are GED recipients, some of
them are currently in community college, and some are even four-year college graduates. We are
looking at starting a foundations course that would prepare them for a full-time camp or provide
that edge that makes them look more appealing to an internship or an entry level role.
Hack the Hood is really grounded in this need to support small businesses. The small businesses
have been a vehicle to give students experiential learning opportunities. Especially now with
Covid-19, we see a real need for volunteers beyond websites, digital consulting, and advising. Our
volunteers can bring a different set of business aspect that we might not have.

AU: How do you pick the small businesses to work with?

Shumate: Any business can be part of this. We ask that the businesses be student and organization
appropriate, and we stay politically neutral.

Other than that, we do not have too many expectations. There are requirements in terms of
attending courses with your youth participants. Those range from one to two hours every other
week. We are here for the community. It is come one, come all.

The same thing goes for our students. As you grow in our programs and go higher in the skill
development bootcamps, those have applications to get in. But everyone is welcome in our intro
level. I think that is something that is needed, especially right now. Historically, we have provided
laptops and stipends to our attendees because it is a real need. People do not have jobs, and are
losing jobs every day. It is about finding that balance of trying to give the support people need
while partnering with different internship opportunities or other opportunities for funding in that

AU: What do these small businesses and young people gain from attending the
bootcamps that you offer?

Shumate: This is month two for me, and this is what I have seen so far. On August 7th, we had two
graduations for two of our boot camps that we have had this summer. One of them, we had
worked with about 15 different small businesses in the Oakland area. There is this woman there
who is about mid to late 40s talking about her company and organization. It was an education
organization for young people. She was talking about how valuable it was to get their insight on
how to visually market to her audience. She said she felt fortunate that she had this resource. She
needed a translator to some of the technology. I think these bootcamps let them be that

Our school is around tech entrepreneurship. We want you to have an opportunity to work at
Google or intern at Pandora, but ultimately, how do you use your creativity to build and solve for a
social issue that you may be dealing with in your community? That is what we like to call a Hack
the Hoods secret sauce. That culturally responsive service around tech. Education is what is
missing from other bootcamps and we really drive ourselves on taking the time to invest in that.

AU: How many volunteers do you currently have, and what does it take to become

Shumate: Right now, we have open sign-ups so they can sign up on our website through a link. We
have a process by which we identify which small businesses have what needs. We then send out
that information to our volunteers to see what talent we have and if folks have the time to do it
within their workday. Then we do a short assessment and training. We want to make sure that it
works on both ends. We go beyond just a volunteer program. Our partners trust us. Whoever we
bring the volunteers to, we want to make sure that they feel valued and appreciated and not like
something just to add to their resume. We are looking for good people who want to jump in and

We have just under 300 on our list serve right now. We are launching a small business
empowerment program, starting in September. We will be recruiting volunteers to do that direct
work with our small business owners. We work with over 400 small businesses right now around
the Bay Area.

AU: How do you choose who to partner with and what does that process look like?

Shumate: I always use the word partners so widely. We have funders who are partners who also
turn in to volunteer sources. One of our companies will give funding but also has a deeper
relationship with us. How do we engage with your small businesses? How do we engage with your

We have education partnerships with peer organizations that are doing similar tech equity work,
as well as schools and the school district. Over the summer we worked in partnership with Intel
and Oakland Technical High School, which is one of the largest high schools in Oakland, to put on a
boot camp for students. If you can imagine, these are 15, 16, 17-year olds, some of them on their
cell phones, for hours a day for three weeks long. Imagine the grit and the persistence. We are
community centered organization, and that means we have a lot of partners.

AU: What made you want to be involved in this organization to begin with?

Shumate: I identify as an educator and I started my career in D.C. in education policy. The common
thread for me has always been about how do we ensure we’re creating learning environments
that are accessible to the most vulnerable? That for me has been for women. That also means
queer students. That has meant low income students, students from different ethnicities, immigrants, international
students. How do we take everyone who has been pushed out and bring them to the center? I
ended up at Hack the Hood because when I first came to the Bay, I was purely in education and I
worked in East Oakland. We were surrounded by wealth. I am teaching reading intervention
classes in a broom closet with six eighth graders who are reading on a second-grade level. I am a
campus director and I am doing this because our teachers are very young, and we are
understaffed. As admin, we must step in and teach. We spent the entire year in that closet. I just
got so angry. We were surrounded by wealth, how do we come back?

I am so proud of this team and I am always humbled by the founders. Everyone is welcome. That is
why I do this work. It is personal for me. I am from Newark, New Jersey and I am still the only
college graduate in my family. I will be thirty-five in a few months. For me, it is about that family
vision and also seeing how this plays out globally for people who are marginalized.

AU: What can people do to help this organization?

Shumate: Volunteering and signing up for our newsletter. I say that because I think it is about
information and people knowing who we are. Whether that is following us, understanding the
community we are serving, etc.

To find out more about Hack the Hood, check out:

Social Media: (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube): @hackthehood

What is AchieveUnite and Brands For Good?

AchieveUnite is a consulting and education company helping companies of all sizes generate
maximum results from their channel and strategic alliance partner organizations.

As an organization built around deep expertise, we are at our core curious, active learners that
constantly look for inspiration from other organizations doing great things. Our Brands for Good
series came from our desire to share the impressive work we’ve seen organizations doing to build
impressive businesses while giving back good into the world.

We hope you enjoy their stories and best practice strategies as much as we do, and find some
inspiration for your own personal and professional lives along the way.