As minority and women business owners know, the tech world is notoriously lacking in diversity. Despite millions of dollars spent on high-profile initiatives, 50 percent of Apple and Google employees today are white, and 68 percent are men. Women make up just 23 percent of tech workers at Apple, according to the company’s 2017 diversity report. Additionally, a whopping 83 percent of tech executives in in the US are white men, according to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report.
But there are a few bright lights on the horizon for minorities in tech. A handful of organizations have stepped up to lead the effort to help women and minority entrepreneurs secure funding, build their businesses and succeed in the tech world. Here’s an overview of a few that stand out.
Founded in 2011, Black Founders is an organization whose simply stated mission is to increase the number of successful black tech entrepreneurs. Based in San Francisco, California, the organization is split into a for profit company and a 501c(3) nonprofit, Black Founders Startup Community, which sponsors networking and educational events in the San Francisco Bay area and cities across the US. It also hosts regular “HBUC hackathons” — two-day events during which students at historically black colleges and universities get to practice their coding skills and work together to build web software and mobile apps. Additionally, the community connects black tech entrepreneurs with potential investors through its online platform, Gust.
Named for the year that the predicted majority of the US population will be people of color, Code 2040 is a nonprofit whose vision is “full representation and leadership of Black and Latinx people in the innovation economy.” To that end, the organization has created a number of initiatives, including a Fellows Program that allows undergraduate and graduate students in the computer sciences to spend a summer interning with some of the greatest minds in the tech world. It also sponsors Tech Trek, an all-expenses-paid week-long program for Black and Latinx students who wish to come to Silicon Valley to learn more about technology companies, promote workforce diversity and share learning and experiences with their peers.
Founded in 2011 by Angela Benton, the entrepreneur CEO of Black Web Media, NewME’s accelerator program helps minorities in tech through a three-pronged approach that includes an online platform, a one-week residential bootcamp, and an equity portfolio. Between 2011 and 2017, NewME helped hundreds of minority start-ups in Silicon Valley build their businesses and secure over $25 million in funding for expansion. Now headquartered in South Florida, the organization continues to hold quarterly boot camps while engaging in community-based education and outreach that directly benefits Miami’s black entrepreneurs.
An offshoot of the global tech accelerator Techstars, the Techstars Foundation is a nonprofit that aims to increase participation of minority entrepreneurs in tech industries through a series of scholarships, sponsorships and grants. Led by Techstars co-CEOs David Brown and David Cohen, the foundation raises money from a network of donors, which it uses to help fund initiatives that directly benefit minority entrepreneurs. Some current grant recipients include Student Dream, a nonprofit whose mission is to close “the racial wealth gap by training and mentoring college students of color to build and invest in businesses,” and Change Catalyst, a nonprofit that provides funding assistance, mentorship and education to minorities in tech.
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