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Mission Bit Takes Back Tech

By Julissa James

Founded in 2013, Mission Bit gives Bay Area kids living through poverty a leg up in the region’s most viable industry: tech. By offering free computer science education in public schools, the nonprofit is molding the next generation of San Francisco techies. Students hail from varied cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and boast a deep understanding of the City’s cultural landscape — better yet, they don’t adhere to a Patagonia-and-khakis uniform.

Mission Bit CEO Stevon Cook by Olivia Wise.

Inspiration: The nonprofit wants to close the “tech divide” and provide opportunities to underserved students who might stand to reap the industry’s benefits.

CEO: Stevon Cook fell into this position serendipitously. During his successful campaign to become president of the San Francisco Board of Education, the issue of access to coding education loomed large. In search for a solution, he discovered Mission Bit and was offered the job to run the show in 2015. During four years at the helm, he’s taken Mission Bit from a volunteer-run, neighborhood-only program to a self-sustaining organization that operates citywide.

Founder: Tyson Daugherty, a Mission District parent inspired to do good for his community.

Impact: The group has engaged more than 2,800 students to date. Every semester, it teaches a cohort composed of 40 percent girls, and 35 percent black or Latino — populations that are painfully lacking in today’s tech sector — how to code. “We exist to help students take control of their own future,” Cook says.

Budget: $700,000 annually

Supporters: San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, the Office of Economic Workforce Development, Facebook and private donors, just to name a few.

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