The Huffington Post
by Robbie Couch
Twitter’s latest move empowering underserved San Franciscans definitely deserves a retweet.
The tech giant opened NeighborNest — a $3 million learning center connecting impoverished locals to tech education — located just steps away from Twitter’s headquarters, on May 20, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Partnered with local nonprofit Compass Family Services, Twitter allows employee volunteers to teach tech skills to community members who seek services there. But with housing and job programs, social work services, a childcare facility filled with colorful toys and a kitchen area stocked with healthy foods, NeighborNest is far from an everyday computer lab.
“Some people don’t have a space to go to do what they need to do, but here you do,” Lindsay Moodie, who accesses services at NeighborNest, told the San Francisco Chronicle. The 27-year-old was homeless for 10 years, starting at age 15, and has a young daughter.
The San Francisco Bay Area, encompassing Silicon Valley, has become ground zero for inequality, according to Preeti Vissa, COO of Berkeley, California-based nonprofit The Greenlining Institute.
She blogged on The Huffington Post in March of last year about increasing income disparity and gentrification in the region — two processes that have widened the gap between the Bay Area’s haves and have-nots.
“I get a close-up view of this every day,” she wrote. “Piles of tech money and well-paid tech workers have swept into the area, leaving longtime residents not only feeling insecure, but often in real danger of losing their homes as buildings housing rent-controlled apartments are sold out from under them.”
With both flourishing tech companies and struggling working class residents calling San Francisco home, Mayor Ed Lee decided to help blur the lines between the two worlds in 2011.
He introduced tax breaks for companies that decide to both call the downtown neighborhood South of Market (SoMa) home and commit to revitalizing the surrounding area, as The Guardian reported.
The mayor was at NeighborNest’s launch ceremony last month.
“It is such a dream come true to see this go from an architectural drawing to be in the physical space,” said Caroline Barlerin, Twitter’s head of philanthropy, according to ABC 7 News. “It’s a vibrant community. It is also one of the poorest neighborhoods of San Francisco.”
Erica Kisch, executive director of Compass Family Services, told the San Francisco Chronicle that NeighborNest is aiming to serve 800 clients within its first year.