May 2017 marked the second birthday of the NeighborNest, Twitter’s family-friendly community learning center dedicated to creating new opportunities through technology for residents of the Tenderloin, mid-Market and SOMA neighborhoods of San Francisco. The NeighborNest was created with the intention of people coming together based on a shared love of learning and technology. Two years on, we’re encouraged by how our mission has come to life and excited for the journey ahead.
We listened closely to the community’s needs to ensure we could best fulfill this purpose, leveraging Twitter’s expertise in technology and our partners’ expertise in social services. Since its doors opened in 2015, we have hosted more than 7,000 visits and provided more than 2,000 hours of programming, including coding classes, social media training for nonprofits, a citizenship and media literacy curriculum.
We marked this milestone by celebrating our #NestFest on Twitter, taking advantage of what the platform does best -- bringing everyone near and far together for a shared purpose. We also had an intimate celebration with families from the community and volunteers over a movie, pizza, and cake.
An important aspect of our approach is meeting people where they are, and we’ve done this in various ways: working with adults intimidated by attending classes, welcoming volunteers who want to share their love for coding but aren’t used to being around kids, and training nonprofits who want to share their work, but have limited knowledge of Twitter.
Through the digital literacy programs we offer at the NeighborNest, we are helping adult learners with little or no prior exposure to computers achieve IT proficiency, which can in turn improve their employment prospects. Our Twitter volunteers have led a Coding for Kids and Digital Citizenship program, which reinforces the importance of early education for youth and families. Additionally, the NeighborNest hosts Twitter for Nonprofits, helping partners leverage Twitter to advance their mission.
The NeighborNest serves as a window for Twitter volunteers to see and experience the community’s history, and the resilience of its residents in the face of everyday adversity. More importantly, perhaps, it has shown us what a big a difference little things can make: a welcoming space, healthy snacks, time invested, and hands-on assistance.
“I enjoy coming to the Nest because there are always computers open...I can make myself a cup of coffee or grab a water bottle. If my daughter is with me and I need to focus on something, the staff is able to watch after her. I can’t find that kind of support anywhere else.” - Andrea, client
“Working at the NeighborNest has reinforced just how big of an impact we can make by donating our time, and you don't need a background in computers to help someone uplevel their technology skills.” - Greg, volunteer
The NeighborNest has emerged as a collaborative, diverse, and commonly frequented space for Twitter employees and members of the community. Visitors and volunteers come to the NeighborNest for skills-based training, family-oriented programs, and various activities, but often end up creating connections and fostering a support system amongst clients and volunteers.
While families from different programs get to know each other, share community resources, and forge new friendships, nonprofit staff members meet new people, learn about each other’s work, and exchange best practices. Volunteers tell us that the NeighborNest has enabled them to feel more connected to both their community and their colleagues.
“Personally, I get a lot of joy helping out the nonprofits and also make great connections!” - Betty, volunteer
The growth experienced at the NeighborNest has surpassed simply learning new information and skills. As a result of our workshops, we’ve seen a notable increase in people’s confidence, their eagerness to take on new tasks, and they approach job interviews with their head held a little higher.
After regular visits to the NeighborNest, children who used to cling to their parents now immediately run into the play area and have developed critical social skills that have helped them become more pre-school ready. These kids have become more independent as a result of time spent at the childcare area while their parents attend class in the next room.
“The time at the Nest has been well spent. Our self-esteem has been elevated through excellent programs on housing, computer classes and one on one personal help. I believe our daughter, when she grows up, will always have fond memories of this beautiful place called NeighborNest.” - Dave, client
Twitter employees have also expressed personal and professional growth as a result of volunteering. Exposure to a thriving community and the chance to interact with the people and organizations that make this part of San Francisco so unique - this is a vital part of our company philosophy. Twitter for Nonprofits workshop volunteers have come to understand our services better, how organizations are using them, and ways to equip nonprofits in leveraging product features to better amplify their mission-driven work.
“It helps me take a step back and see the larger picture. This subsequently motivates me to work harder at Twitter. It also makes me very grateful that Twitter cares about the community and the neighborhood.” - Twitter volunteer
Everyday, the NeighborNest harnesses the power of people coming together – the idea that actions are more impactful with the support of others, and goals less daunting. This approach has helped shape our purpose and our path has unfolded organically. We continue to listen to our community and employees and do our best to meet their needs. We lean on respective experts to evaluate our efforts and we adjust as needed. Through this process, we not only build digital literacy skills, but also awareness, empathy, and profound connections.
Happy birthday, NeighborNest!