Paying it Forward: Bay Area Edition

The Bay Area boasts some of the most successful names in tech, and it’s only natural that many choose to give back to their communities by doing more than simply writing a check. They’re funding specific programs and partnering with community organizations to encourage the advancement of technical knowledge and understanding.

This year, Twitter will be opening NeighborNest, a learning center in the heart of downtown San Francisco where employees will volunteer their time to provide education, training and access to technology to clients of their community partners. With headquarters on Market Street, Twitter is looking to build the NeighborNest directly across from its office to help the community develop the skills that are necessary in today’s high-tech world.  

Tech giants LinkedIn and Zynga are some of this year’s supporting partners for Mission Bit, a nonprofit that offers free programming classes to San Francisco public school students. Taught by experienced engineers and entrepreneurs, Mission Bit provides students with the opportunity to learn practical skills and computer science concepts that will carry on to future careers.

Zendesk, the customer service software company, gives back to its mid-Market Street community through its work with the St. Anthony Foundation’s Tenderloin Technology Lab. Zendesk understands Wi-Fi and email access are vital for job hunting, so employees volunteer their time at the lab to provide free computer training classes. Zendesk also built Link-SF, a website that allows homeless and low-income residents to find critical resources such as food, shelter and medical care.

Verizon is also committed to paying it forward, through a variety of programs. In January, the Verizon Foundation awarded $60,000 in grants to three Bay Area schools to drive student interest and advancement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The grants help provide teachers with the resources they need to fund specific STEM programs. And most recently, Verizon has partnered with the National Council on Aging to develop an Aging in Place Program to help senior citizens learn to use tablets, email and sharing applications to reduce social isolation. The Health Trust of Silicon Valley is one of the partner sites launching this year.

In a region that is overflowing with cutting edge technology, it’s refreshing to see companies give back to their communities with innovative solutions. What other corporate-led, technology-driven community programs have you seen pop up in the Bay Area? Let us know on Twitter at @VZWHeidi.