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Looking for the Hidden Genius Within Disenfranchised Youth

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For low-income and disenfranchised youth, learning to code might lead to a lucrative career in an industry that's both booming and lacking in diversity. That's the idea behind Oakland's Hidden Genius Project, a two-year program that offers black high school students a variety of tech classes and pairs them with mentors. Kalimah Priforce, a tech entrepreneur and head mentor at the project wants to see black and Latino kids move from being consumers of technology to being producers -- and he wants to see that diversity reflected in high tech products.

“If we want to build an app that could have saved Trayvon Martin’s life, one of the best approaches is to make sure that Trayvon Martin is able to build that app,” said Priforce, who was also among the community leaders advising the White House on its new initiative, My Brother's Keeper, aimed at empowering young men of color.

At a recent hack-a-thon in Oakland, Calif., students from the Hidden Genius Project pitched their ideas for software to address their own everyday problems -- from an adventure game about decision making to a mobile app encouraging users to exercise more. Check out what the students are up to.

[Produced by Monica Lam/Reported by Aarti Shahani for KQED Newsroom]