Twitter partners with SF nonprofit to help community

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ByJonathan Bloom KGO logo
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Twitter partners with SF nonprofit to help community
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Twitter has partnered with Compass Family Services to build a community learning center near its headquarters in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Twitter has announced a move to help needy families in the San Francisco neighborhood where it's headquartered. It's a step toward addressing criticism from those who feel the company should do more to help.

San Francisco nonprofit Compass Family Services is turning 100. Back in the day it was called Travelers Aid Society. And getting people jobs and housing required a good, sturdy clipboard and a sharp pencil. Oh, how things change.

"Every person needs a computer and every person needs access to technology make it in today's society," said Compass Family Services Executive Director Erica Kisch.

That's why you might notice a few people here from a much younger company that's headquartered right up the street. Twitter recently turned eight. And like a good 8-year-old, the company is sharing in a big way.

"It's the first ever time a tech company has made a commitment of creating a physical space for a population for the homeless families and children," said Caroline Barlerin, Twitter's head of community outreach.

Twitter may be helping the kids jump around right now, but ultimately they want to help them learn to sit still, as they learn the computer skills they need for a bright future.

"Having kids not have access to computers is almost like locking the doors to the library," said Barlerin.

So Twitter's building the "Neighborhood Nest." It's a partnership with Compass that's part computer lab, part community center. Parents can apply for jobs while their kids do homework, and both can learn new skills.

"I see Compass kids learning coding and, you know, having the opportunity to enter careers that might otherwise be closed to them," Kisch said.

Wyatt Ratliff's having so much fun volunteering, he has no problem with that.

"So that they'd be able to come and work at Twitter as engineers or as full time employees," Ratliff said.

That would be a dream come true for some of these kids and for some of the homeless adults we've talked to outside Twitter's headquarters.

Advocates have long wished Twitter would do more to help them. Now, a big first step that they say isn't the last.

"You know, Twitter doesn't just want to be a resident of the Tenderloin," Barlerin said. "We really want to be a neighbor and be neighborly."

They say they'll open the Neighborhood Nest in the summer of 2015.