Press Release

For more information, contact
Susan Mernit, ED/co-director,, (650) 814-9303
Zakiya Harris, co-director,, (510) 759-5326

Hack the Hood one of 4 Google Bay Area Impact Challenge winners:
Project empowers 5,000 youth and 25,000 small businesses through tech

June 5, 2014, Oakland, CA--Hack the Hood is one of 4 winners in the 2014 Google Bay Area
Impact Challenge. As a winner, Hack the Hood receives $500,000 in Google funding to expand
the program in Oakland and replicate its model with partners across five counties in the Bay
Area. The program focuses on improving access for low-income people of color to good jobs in
tech, and bridging the digital divide by getting local small businesses visible online. Hack the
Hood will also receive planning and organizational support from Google, and office space at the
Google Impact Lab at Impact HUB San Francisco.

According to, Hack the Hood was one of 4 projects selected by a panel of judges
from the Bay Area community out of almost 1000 other non-profit organizations. The panelists
included Honorable Aida Alvarez, Chair, Latino Community Foundation and Former
Administrator, US Small Business Administration; Jacquelline Fuller, Director,;
Secretary Norman Mineta, Former Mayor of San José and Former US Secretary of
Transportation; Chief Teresa Deloach Reed, Fire Chief, City of Oakland, the Reverend Cecil
Williams, Founder and Minister of Liberation, Glide Memorial United Methodist Church and
Barry Zito, Major League Baseball Player and Philanthropist. The panelists selected 10
finalists, who then rallied their communities to vote for their projects. The Hack the Hood team
built its own voting website to organize supporters, and pushed the call out using social media,
garnering support from around the globe.

“The level of financial and other kinds of investment that Google is a real game-changer for us,
but we are almost more thankful that they pushed us to do this voting campaign. This
experience really forced us to step up our game, and resulted in a groundswell of support that
we never imagined possible. The people who voted for us now feel a certain kind of ownership
over our program, and we are going to work hard to make them proud,” said COO Mary Fuller,
who led the social media campaign.

Van Jones, MC Hammer, Craig Newmark and web site builder Weebly were among the people
and groups helped spread the word during the voting period. In addition to votes, the campaign
has resulted in new donations, grants, requests to bring the model to other regions, and an
onslaught of offers from locals to volunteer and other forms of support. The project, which
launched in October 2012, grew its Twitter follower ten times over during the campaign.

“This is such a huge opportunity for us,” said ED/co-director Susan Mernit; “We’re eager to build
a model to expand in the Bay area.”


Hack the Hood ( is a program that trains inner city youth ages 16-21 in web
development and related tech skills; youth then go out and build mobile-friendly web sites for
local small business, work with mentors to build their portfolios and career plans, and visit local
tech companies to learn more about tech careers.

This $500,000 award is Hack the Hood’s largest grant to date.

Supporters include City of Oakland, The Thomas J Long Foundation, Facebook, The Kapor
Center for Social Impact,, Pandora Media, the Uptown and Downtown CBDs, Impact
Hub Oakland, Tech Liminal, the East Bay EDA, and a score of local merchant associations in
Oakland, CA.

Hack the Hood has an active mentor and volunteer program.

Google Bay Area Challenge voting site:
Follow Hack the Hood on Social Media
! Facebook
! Twitter
! Flickr:

About the Center for Media Change
Hack the Hood is a project of the Center for Media Change, a 501c3 founded in 2007 that
focuses on using media and technology to educate in ways that affect positive social change.
Other CMC projects include Oakland Local, a local news site that reaches more than 90,000
local readers every month, mostly based in Oakland and San Francisco, and Live Work
Oakland, a site tracking tech startups and business innovators in Oakland, CA through an
interactive map and business directory.


Susan Mernit, Hack the Hood CEO, Co-Director
Susan Mernit is a nationally recognized journalist, blogger, social entrepreneur, trainer, and
educator. A former VP at AOL & Netscape, & former! Yahoo Senior Director, Mernit left Silicon
Valley to pursue journalism and mission-driven enterprises. She is the co-founder, editor &
publisher of Oakland Local ( a news & community hub for Oakland, CA.
Mernit was consulting program manager for The Knight News Challenge, 2008-09; was a 2012
Stanford Carlos McClatchy Fellow; and is a board adviser to The Center for Health Reporting at
USC, Annenberg School of Journalism. She has consulted with many non-profit organizations
on strategy, product development and social media/engagement, including,
TechSoup Global, Public Radio International and the Institute for Policy Studies/Economic
Hardship Reporting Project, led by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Mernit is a nationally recognized trainer and curriculum developer in the areas of web metrics,
social media marketing and civic engagement, and making free web services accessible to
residents in underserved communities. She is a circuit rider for The Knight Community
Information Challenge and a facilitator for The Knight Digital Media Center at The Annenberg
School of Journalism, USC. Mernit has been developing curriculum since 1998, and created a
program in New York in 2000 at Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, NYC and West High School
in New York that taught skills to high school students that was replicated across the city for 3
years. In 2011, she launched Code for Oakland (, a one-day tech event
focused on building apps to serve Oakland community that repeats yearly.

Zakiya Harris, Hack the Hood Chief Education Executive, Co-Director
Zakiya Harris is a social change strategist, educator, and artist. She works at the intersection of
entrepreneurship, environmental education & creative transformation. Zakiya is a co-founder of
the nationally recognized projects Impact Hub Oakland, Grind for the Green, Earthseed
Consulting, and a Fellow of Green For All and Bold Food. As a programming strategist for
Impact Hub Oakland, she facilitates support and scholarships to mission driven entrepreneurs
dedicated to accelerating possibilities for a better world. Zakiya was recently appointed Director
of the Bay Area Hive Learning Network, a regional laboratory that brings together educators,
technologists and mentors to design innovative, connected educational experiences for youth.
In addition, she is retained as a consultant by a diverse set of leaders managing programs
where culturally relevant education and cross sector collaboration are seen as assets. Zakiya’s
twelve years of experience in arts and equal access movements includes a combination of
management, teaching and presenting at Green Festivals, TEDx Denver Education, Global
Exchange and the Youth Leadership Institute, Toyota Motors, Inc., the US Department of
Agriculture, the US Department of State Bureau of Cultural & Educational Affairs and the
NAACP National Convention. She served as the first African-American Regional Director of the
San Francisco Green Festival, received the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights Future Leaders
award. She also recently accepted the Tutorpedia Foundation Award for Personalizing
Education. Zakiya holds a B.A. in Political Science and History from Rutgers University, and
attended New College of Law before leaving to pursue her lifelong passion of teaching. Applying
her performance arts talents as a dancer, vocalist and actor, Zakiya has taught culturally and
creatively-driven classes to elementary, high school and college students. Currently, Zakiya is
preparing for the release of her first solo music project “Adventures of Shapeshifter.” A proud
California native, her highest honor in life is being a mother.