- The PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative is awarding $750,000 to organizations focused on building an equitable tech and innovation ecosystem in Philadelphia.
- The organizations selected are The Enterprise Center, Mom Your Business, Venture for America, Coded by Kids, Technical.ly and DiverseForce.
- Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce is also awarding an additional $500,000 in funding to Per Scholas Philadelphia, a tech training organization.
Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce announced its latest cohort of organizations awarded a total of $750,000 in funding through the PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative.
The initiative, first launched in November 2020, invests in organizations that aim to build talent pipelines, train Black and brown Philadelphians for careers in tech and support Black and brown tech founders.
“I am really about building bridges and breaking down barriers,” Tempest Carter, director of strategic tech initiatives at the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, told The Plug.
“We are making the most inclusive economy possible and making sure that those who have historically been marginalized are able to fully participate and grow with the tech and innovation ecosystem here in Philadelphia,” she said.
The PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative was born out of Project NorthStar, a three-day tech conference aimed to provide connections, education and opportunities for minority entrepreneurs and professionals, held in partnership with Black & Brown Founders in 2018. The PHL initiative’s first round of funding in 2020 was $500,000, and Carter hopes it will continue growing. This year’s round currently stands at $750,000, with a goal of reaching $1 million next year.
“We’re putting our dollars and we’re putting skin in the game to say we believe that this industry can be more equitable. We believe that we have the talent here,” she said.
The City of Philadelphia seeks to become the most diverse tech hub in the country; this initiative aims to build the infrastructure to achieve that goal. In 2020, Philadelphia was ranked the third-best city for diversity in STEM by SmartAsset, with about 15 percent of the STEM workforce being Black and nine percent Latino.
The following organizations were selected to receive funding:
The Enterprise Center, a non-profit supporting the growth of diverse small businesses, and Mom Your Business, which connects female founders to resources and opportunities, were awarded $125,000 each to host a pitch competition for Black and brown tech founders this year. The Enterprise Center will be matching the prize funding awarded.
Venture for America, which connects college graduates to startup experiences, was awarded $100,000 to build a tech pipeline with HBCUs. The goal is to recruit from local HBCUs, Cheyney and Lincoln University, and Philadelphians who attend out-of-state HBCUs.
“When they graduate, not only do they have a space here in Philadelphia, they are wanted back home and they also have a viable economic opportunity here,” Carter said.
Coded by Kids, which teaches children from underrepresented groups tech and entrepreneurship skills, was awarded $100,000 to continue its work with the 1Philadelphia initiative to create an equitable tech and innovation ecosystem for underrepresented and underserved Philadelphians. 1Philadelphia awarded $320,000 in grants to community organizations and entrepreneurs in celebration of its two-year anniversary in November 2022.
Technical.ly, a tech news platform, was awarded $200,000 to manage a network of tech and tech-enabled companies committed to diverse hiring, training and mentorship.
The remaining $100,000 was awarded to DiverseForce, a recruitment and talent firm focused on diverse hiring. The firm’s founder, Sulaiman Rahman, also heads the P4 Hub, a coworking and event space for Black and brown professionals.
Separately from the PHL tech initiative, the Department of Commerce has also allocated an additional $500,000 in funding from its workforce solutions grant to Per Scholas Philadelphia, a tech training organization, to support unemployed and underemployed Philadelphians. The grant will be used to provide free training and job placement services in IT, cloud computing, cybersecurity and software engineering roles.
The initiative plans to host monthly meetings to focus on collaborative efforts among the cohort organizations. The inaugural March meeting will be the first time all cohort organizations are together in one room.
“It’s not only a way for us to kind of figure out what each other are doing, but to actively use that time as a workshop,” Carter said. “It’s like making a really good gumbo. You have all these different ingredients, as we put them together we’ll see what we’re able to do to push the needle in really creative ways.”