by Sierra Ryder
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Emery High School student Jayden Cummings has been announced the winner of the Congressional App Challenge in Rep. Barbara Lee’s district for his app iBlinkco.
The contest was hosted by the U.S House of Representatives throughout the country, encouraging youth to learn code and pursue computer science fields. It is through Oakland-based organization, The Hidden Genius Project, that Cummings has been able to learn and grow his coding talent.
“The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors black male youth in technology, entrepreneurship and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities,” Cummings said.
According to founding Executive Director Brandon Nicholson, the organization’s goal is to help black male youth reach their potential in the tech and entrepreneurship fields.
“We are a youth development organization that seeks to help young people reveal their potential and essentially reach their goals by leveraging technology, leveraging entrepreneurship to pursue their passions and interests and find new pathways as well,” he said.
The Hidden Genius Project was founded in 2012 by black male technology entrepreneurs with the aim to give black males more opportunities in the technology industry.
There were just five members of the first group of young geniuses, but it has since grown to service 2,000 youth globally, and up to 150 in the Oakland area.
The program in Oakland stages events across the community that all aide in teaching technology and entrepreneurship.
For Cummings, The Hidden Genius Project has given him great opportunities including mentoring his peers in the program.
“My life was transformed immediately,” he said. “I spoke at their end of summer celebration which is a gathering of all of the geniuses and that allowed me to build my public speaking skills too.”
In addition to the new skills the organization builds on, it is their mentoring that has proven beneficial to students like Cummings.
“Knowing I have mentors and black male figures which I did not have before is very important,” he said. “It makes me feel comfortable to become the best that I can be.”
The award winning app that Cummings built through the help of The Hidden Genius Project is called iBlinkco. It helps to service the community through educating vendors on social media. He says his inspiration has come through the problems arising in black communities and their businesses.
“There is a lot of businesses in Oakland that have been shutting down the last few years because of problems such as gentrification and I feel like having those businesses adapt to the modern world can be important for them,” he said.
As for his future, Cummings plans on attending college as well as continuing to grow his company.
“I do plan to keep pursuing my current company as far as possible and get it funded by a venture capitalist,” he said. “I am so happy to have the hidden geniuses help me out.”
The next step in Cummings’ journey with iBlinkco is to attend the prestigious #HouseofStem Ceremony held in Washington D.C on March 24th where he will have the opportunity to showcase his app to congressmen and congresswomen. He has a GoFundMe page set up for travel costs that he is working to raise before he can attend the event.
For more information about The Hidden Genius Project head to their website www.hiddengeniusproject.org.