Twitter Inc. (TWTR – NYSE) mission statement is: “To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” To meet that mission, the company is spending $3 million to open the new Twitter NeighborNest to teach tech skills near their headquarters on South Market Street in downtown San Francisco.
The 4,000-square-foot, fully-company-funded learning center also offers child care adjacent to its computer labs, staffed by Twitter employee volunteers and social service workers. The center offers coaching for everything from elementary tech skills to help on housing and job related assistance.
Despite the Bay Area having the best job growth in the nation, a recent report for Joint Venture Silicon Valley found that “Despite being one of the world’s wealthiest regions, there were 829,547 people living in poverty in the Bay Area in 2013.” The study used federal poverty thresholds that ranged from an annual income of $11,490 for a one-person household to $23,550 for a family of four. Economist Jon Haveman, who led the study commented, “The Bay Area does have something of a have and have-not economy.”
In April 2011, Twitter announced the company had agreed to move into a mostly abandoned building in a downtrodden area of San Francisco called South Market Street in exchange for some tax breaks on payroll and the valuing employee stock options.
The move sparked a wave of revitalization in the area. But all the new glitter in a neighborhood that Business Insider once referred to as a “crappy neighborhood” is only a few blocks from San Francisco’s low-income Tenderloin District, known for roaming homeless during the day and hookers and druggies at night.
Twitter is trying to be a spark plug to improve the areas outside of South Market by investing $3 million in the NeighborNest project over the next four years and contributing another $3 million in financial grants to nonprofits serving residents of the Tenderloin and central Market Street neighborhoods.
Coreen Clark, a teacher with Catholic Charities who has already accompanied a number of neighborhood children’s groups to the center for computer skills instruction told the San Francisco Chronicle, “A lot of these kids likely don’t know someone who works in the tech sector.”