Twitter NeighborNest: how we learn, connect, and grow together

By Leah Laxamana
Thursday, 8 September 2016

Last year, we launched the Twitter NeighborNest with the vision of creating new possibilities for a diverse community through technology and a love for learning. This is a reflection of our commitment to creating meaningful impact in our neighborhood and deepening our ties to the community.

The design of this family-friendly learning center was deeply informed by what we heard during a six-month listening tour talking to different community members. Some of our lessons included learning about residents’ needs around accessing technology, training and childcare, as well as Twitter employees’ shared desire to leverage their skills for good and connect with neighbors.

We knew that the best way to work with the community was to combine Twitter’s expertise in technology with that of our partners in social services, such as Compass Family Services (@compasssf) and Community Technology Network (@CTNBayArea). We’ve taken a ‘learning by doing’ approach. From the beginning we sought to ensure our programming was responding to the needs and wants of our partners. Some of the main priorities were housing search workshops and basic computer classes.

The Twitter-led programming Coding for Kids, Digital Citizenship and Twitter for Nonprofits were offered regularly following positive feedback from volunteers who tested them during our #FridayForGood days of service and expressed their desire to do more. We have also extended our reach to more organizations by hosting special activities like technical capacity trainings for nonprofit staff, small business fairs, and board meetings.

Together, the community-led and Twitter-led programming has attracted a lot of people. In its first year, NeighborNest hosted over 3,500 visits from local residents, conducted 920 programming hours and provided 800 hours of free childcare. In addition to Compass Family Services and Community Technology Network, other key partners who were instrumental in launching include: Bay Area Video Coalition, Boys & Girls Club, Catholic Charities, One Degree and United Playaz.

Digital literacy has been at the core of our services, whether guiding new computer users to navigating the web and setting up an email account, or simply providing the space and support for aspiring UX and web designers to strengthen their skills. Even our non-technical offerings are an invitation to our guests, who may not be ready for computers, to be exposed to technology and hopefully see how they can benefit from it as modeled by other peers. We are in our early days and look forward to continued growth and improvement.

We are delighted by the connections we created and the lessons we gained on this journey. Our approach of regarding everyone who comes to the space both as a teacher and student, has led to meaningful ties and increased understanding of the unique life journeys of everyone who enters our space. Following this post, we will be publishing a series of blog posts highlighting how our various programs have evolved in the past year. The stories will be shared from the perspective of different friends of the NeighborNest: community partners, volunteers, and guests. Enjoy!