Annual Report FY15

Dear Mentors, Donors, Teachers, Students, & Parents -

In our last year of operations, we engaged with 150 different high schools across the nation and noticed the following: students need good role models in order to feel inspired to pursue computer science. They need to be able to look up to mentors who can relate to them and provide them with a realistic snapshot of their futures. For this reason, our mission is to build diverse mentor communities that can provide resources for computer science education to students & school districts nationwide.

We started 2015 by taking a group of high school students to their first hackathon in Silicon Valley. Six months later, we received a Facebook message from a student named Yehuda who sat on that bus:

"Once you guys took me to HackGenY, I realized hackathons are the greatest place! Here everyone has the same thing in common, the same goal in mind and no one will judge the other for who they are or what they want to do."

With a team of 128 mentors, we staffed 28 educational events across 3 states, inspiring 2795 students just like Yehuda. Our mentors have instilled confidence insofar that these students now feel that it is “cool” to be creative with technology and that they have a community of peers who would embrace their love of solving problems. By October, we took this confidence and our community all the way to the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, creating the first city-wide computer science awareness month called Hacktoberfest.

At the end of 2015, we celebrated the accomplishment of a very important goal: after casting a wide net into companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, SpaceX, Tinder, and Snapchat, among others, we selected a test pool of role models who were able to successfully form supportive and educational relationships with K-12 students. We are now working toward our next ambitious goal: building an army of role models with balanced mix of race, gender, and skill that can serve every high school in the United States.

Together, we can expose more students to great mentors and this report serves as proof that your contribution is generating profound impact on the next generation of technologists. Thank you so much for your devotion to this cause and we look forward to scaling with you in 2016...and as always, happy hacking!

Cheers,

Justin Brezhnev
President & CEO

Meet the 2015 Team

We have a team of 9 directors on the board who are guiding the hacker school of thought and are responsible for the standards set across all Hacker Fund operations. The members represent and have represented companies/organizations such as Microsoft, Amazon, Arena Ventures, Angelhack, Major League Hacking, Cal Hacks, Hacktech, & LA Hacks. All board members have experience as hackathon event-organizers.

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In addition, Hacker Fund has put together an advisory board with an array of industry professionals that assist the Board with public relations, partnerships, and fundraising:

  • Anthony Rollins, Advisory Board Chairman & Hack for LA
  • Yohei Nakajima, Techstars
  • Lyndsey Scott, Engineer, Model, & Actress
  • Aloe Blacc, Philanthropist & Musician
  • Ann Wang, Enrou
  • Eileen Kahn, FIRST Robotics
  • Ashley Qian, DIY
  • Devin Finkel, Edmunds

Our mentors are working professionals and collegiate hackers who can deliver industry-relevant computer science education meanwhile increasing:

(1) student self-confidence

(2) student interest in studying computer science

(3) student feelings of “connectedness” with a community.

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The reason the mentors give back to the community is simple: they all wish they had mentors when they were growing up.

Here are some mentor testimonials and the advice they gave to high school students on #GivingTuesday in December 2015:

"I personally don't think I'd be here today without a mentor. Someone I met while in high school told me all the coding I did was actually really unique, introduced me to the startup world, & taught me the importance of networking. I'm not even sure I'd have studied CS without that mentor.” - Lucy Guo, Product Designer at Snapchat

“There are so many kids hungry to learn; they just need some direction. As a mentor, I get the opportunity to provide that direction.” - Skylar Payne, Data Engineer at Google

“I especially enjoy mentoring for Hacker Fund because they make an extra effort to give kids an opportunity to learn from all types of programmers. As a female, person of color, and someone who doesn’t fit neatly into the standard tech industry demographics, I get the opportunity (1) to expand these kids' definition of a programmer and (2) to show other girls and people of color that they aren’t alone.” - Lyndsey Scott, Freelance Software Engineer

Here is a breakdown of our 2015 mentor team:

  • 57% were working professionals (including freelancers and employees from Google, SpaceX, Snapchat, Microsoft, Apple, Linkedin, Tinder, Uber, among others)

  • 43% were college/graduate students (including UC Berkeley, Stanford, Caltech, UCLA, Columbia, University of Washington, Carnegie Mellon University, among others nationwide)

  • 31% were female technologists

Hackathons & Beyond

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We learned that schools could not support the demand for computer science on their own because the supply of qualified instructors was so limited - so we decided to train industry mentors to inspire learning and deploy them across our various program services:

(1) Hackathons: We provided support to student-run, 24-hour events in which participants collaborated on impactful projects using hardware and/or software with the guidance of our mentors, culminating in an expo. These events included: HackGenY, HSHacks II, BeverlyHacks, HackBCA II, & Space Apps Next Gen.

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Outcomes: 2000+ high school students were served; 300+ projects were created.

(2) Summer Camps: We partnered with the Harold Robinson Foundation to provide an unforgettable hacker camp experience in which our mentors taught 6th-8th grade students from South Los Angeles how to create web games, how to assemble drones, and how virtual reality is programmed.

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Outcomes: 50+ middle school students created a 2D game, experienced virtual reality through an Oculus Rift, and flew a drone for the first time!

(3) Enrichment Centers: We created a community hub at rhubarb studios in the US Bank Tower where our mentors provided a safe environment for 9th-12th grade students to learn how to use hardware, attend workshops, and contribute to skill-sharing.

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Outcomes: 15 local mentors were available to teach students regularly after-school as resident-mentors; 250 high school students accessed a hardware lab for the first time!

(4) After-School Programs: In order to supplement high school STEAM education, we partnered with rhubarb studios to launch Hardware Hack Hours & with Hatch Studios to launch VR Sessions. These pilot programs were free weekly sessions that took place in startups hubs & coworking spaces in order to bring the tech industry closer to students.

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Outcomes: 50+ students learned how to create their first circuits!

Our Impact

We have been able to accomplish a lot with less than $50,000 in funding.

Below are three examples of our impact on students we have served:

“As a student who has not had many opportunities like this, I definitely enjoyed and appreciated everything Hack Hours had to offer...it was a place where everyone was supportive of one another and where we could all freely exchange ideas. From the breathtaking view at rhubarb studios to the endless high-fives, Hack Hours continuously gave me something to look forward to every Monday and Wednesday.” - Xochitl Say, 12th Grade.

“While at one of their Hack Days, I learned how to use Unity, a game creation software, how to code directly on my phone, and how I can use Maps to affect the culture around me. I left feeling enlightened and hungry for more...I had done almost no coding whatsoever before Hacker Fund, and the way teachers explained coding concepts made it so easy to learn that I was coding C# lines in no time!” - Jordan Hadley, 9th Grade.

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“I found myself frequently in hack hours all throughout the month of October where I had new experiences and exposure to new technology at rhubarb studios. Of course the technology was awesome (Oculus, Myo, Particle, and Makey Makey), but one of the most valuable things I took with me were the connections I made with people whom I've never met but all shared something in common with: enthusiasm for learning more about hacking. That was truly amazing knowing that people my age and older were apart of an amazing program that would teach material imperative to our future.” - Ramone Andrade, 9th Grade

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  • Our team served 2795 students like Xochitl, Jordan, & Ramone across 3 states.

  • We deployed 128 technical volunteers who provided 224 hours of in-person mentorship.

  • Our mentors staffed 28 different educational events related to computer science.

  • We achieved government endorsement for Hacktoberfest, a month dedicated to spreading & celebrating computer science education in Los Angeles.

But most importantly, we were able to inspire confidence and a sense of community among our students as depicted by Esmeralda Nava who attended her first hackathon during Hacktoberfest:

Milestones

January 2015: We supported a hackathon with a traveling team of mentors for the first time - HackGenY.

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February 2015: We facilitated the largest student hackathon in history, with 1000+ high school attendees.

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March 2015: We formed our official Board of Directors with 9 individuals from the following companies & organizations: Microsoft, Venmo, Polymail, Lyft, Enplug, AngelHack, Hacktech, & Major League Hacking.

June 2015: We received our 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS.

August 2015: We organized our first high school hackathon outside California - we partnered with the CTO of New York City to support Space Apps Next Gen.

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October 2015: We partnered with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on a month-long campaign to spread computer science to K-12 schools through the city, known as Hacktoberfest.

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"I’m so pleased to partner with Hacker Fund to launch Hacktoberfest which will connect young Angelenos to the kind of training they need to reinvent our city and shape their own futures-- a perfect way to celebrate LA’s Innovation Week... Hacktoberfest links our students with engineers and tech industry experts to teach them the basics of programming and developing, putting them on the path to careers in the growing tech industry and beyond," said Mayor Eric Garcetti.

December 2015: We moved into our new headquarters in the US Bank Tower at rhubarb studios in order to be central to more high schools in Los Angeles.

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Our Supporters

Thank you to the companies & organizations that have been able to support our growth by (1) donations (2) event sponsorship (3) hardware (4) venues and (5) volunteers:

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Special thanks to all the donors who supported us financially this year:

Daniel Eckert
Myke Olson
Yesenia Alvarez
George Sivulka
Nelson Gomez
Isaiah Turner
Ari VanIderstine

Financials

We filed the 990-N because we had less than $50,000 in gross receipts during 2015. Our financials have not been audited however we have provided a categorical breakdown of our expenditures and revenues.

Fundraising expenses: 0%
Operational expenses: ~ 20%
Program expenses: ~ 80%

Public support: ~ 95%
Program service revenue: ~ 5%

Opening Balance (March 31, 2015): $100.00
Increase in Net Assets: $35,332.28
Total Net Assets: $35,432.28

Contact Us

We hope you were able to find this report indicative of the awesome support you have been providing to Hacker Fund! Please continue to support by donating here.

Feel free to mail us:

Hacker Fund
3435 Ocean Park Blvd #107 PMB 124
Santa Monica, CA 90405

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at [email protected].