Twitter opens neighborhood nook to teach tech to low income, homeless residents

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ByJonathan Bloom KGO logo
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Twitter opens center to teach tech skills to needy residents
Twitter just opened a space called the Neighbor Nest, a center that lets homeless or low-income residents access technology, education and training.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Around the corner from Twitter's San Francisco's Market Street headquarters, a home away from home opened Wednesday for those who need it the most.

The company is making good on its promise to be a good neighbor. The space is called the Neighbor Nest. It's an oasis in the sometimes rough neighborhood and pledged to help clean up.

"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. "It's a vibrant community. It is also one of the poorest neighborhoods of San Francisco."

At the Neighbor Nest, parents like Lindsay Moodie can work and learn on computers while their kids play in a child care center.

"Just look to the side, OK, and say she's all right, and she's not on me and I can still have this peace and quiet," Moddie said.

Moodie's learning job skills, after winning a long battle with addiction.

"I think I'm savvy when it comes to the computers, but I there's still a lot of stuff that I feel like I need to know," Moddie said.

She's a client of Twitter's partner Compass Family Services. They've been providing child care, housing and career help for the past century, but this is a new chapter.

"A really important part of self-sufficiency is employment, education and in this day and age there is really no way to accomplish those things without technology," said Erica Kish, Compass Family Services executive director.

The Neighbor Nest also serves a third group, children who are just old enough to start really digging into technology.

Catholic Charities runs the program for school age kids learning to tinker and even write code. Some of the teachers are volunteers from Twitter

"To some extent we might think we know what kids like or find interesting, but a lot of it is just like, I think this is cool, let me try to share this with you," said Sarah Rich, Twitter data scientist and volunteer.

"They've become role models, where the kids have actually now heightened their interest into the tech world and want to learn more about technology and computers," said Erica Nave, Catholic Charities head teacher.

A spark that might one day land them a job at Twitter.

"Open up doors for our clients that formerly have been closed to them," Kish added.