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Google to Open Computer Engineering Lab in Oakland for Black and Latino Youth

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California (Flickr)

Google headquarters at their campus in Mountain View, California (Flickr)

Google is launching a new lab in Oakland, California to increase diversity STEM initiatives among Black and Latino youth. The company, which has previously partnered with CS in Media, is now opening a space for young learners to engage in computer engineering.

According to an email obtained by USA Today, Google is collaborating with MIT Media Lab on the Code Next lab. The workroom is due to open in October and already completed a pilot run of the program.

Code Lab’s after-school program offers engaging experiences in computer science for middle-school aged children. Youth will learn about educational and career opportunities in the field at large and in Silicon Valley.

Located in a massive 255,000-square-foot complex in Oakland’s Fruitvale Transit Village, it is the first time Google has waded into the majority Black and Latino neighborhood.

Kalimah Priforce – CEO of Qeyno Labs, which holds coding hackathons for minority youth – told USA Today about the importance of such a big tech company embracing the Oakland community.

“Google’s outreach to leverage Oakland’s inclusive innovative ecosystem has been an open-door approach to the community,” she said. “And that is a warm welcome that tech giants should emulate. It takes a village, and Google gets it. To survive in Oakland, it has to be about community investment.”

In addition to educating youth, Google’s Code Lab will also teach local residents about entrepreneurship and technology.

The news comes at a time when many tech companies in Silicon Valley are pushing efforts to grow rates of Black and minority employment.

Last summer, Pinterest announced plans to increase minority engineers’ employment by 8 percent. Earlier this year, they hired Candice Morgan, who is Black, as their inaugural head of diversity, according to Atlanta Black Star.

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