What would you do with $1M to make your city’s tech ecosystem more inclusive and representative?
This week, the Kapor Center launched the Tech Done Right Challenge, a $1M grant competition to catalyze cross-sector collaborations to help build more intentional, intersectional, and inclusive tech ecosystems in cities across the U.S. The challenge provides one-time “seed” grants to learn about the models that are working and not working across U.S. cities.
We know the barriers, it’s time for solutions
In 2018, the Kapor Center designed and released a research framework to understand the causes and systemic barriers that underlie the lack of diversity in tech. The Leaky Tech Pipeline (LTP) Report established baseline metrics and a common language so that we can — collectively — work on eradicating the complex problem of the lack of diversity in tech.
A key part of the challenge is to find solutions that embrace lean startup approaches through prototypes, experimentation, and iteration through public and private collaborations. We need to build and test partnerships and services that are inclusive by design, not as an afterthought.
At the Kapor Center, we work to increase representation of people of color in technology and entrepreneurship through increasing access to tech and STEM education programs, conducting research on access and opportunity in computing, investing in community organizations and gap-closing social ventures, and increasing access to capital among diverse entrepreneurs.
We also know first hand how challenging — yet crucial — it is to build place-based initiatives aimed at building a local inclusive tech ecosystem. For example, we have helped East Bay talent secure national tech apprenticeships through TechHire Oakland, provided entrepreneurs of color a three-month residency to help incubate their startups with mentors and coaches at a critical stage where no resources are available through our Innovation Lab & the Oakland Startup Network. We also know that this work is complex and requires not only foundations as us, but also local governments, academia, tech companies, community-based training organizations, and entrepreneurs to tackle the systemic issues outlined in the Leaky Tech Pipeline.
These problems are certainly not unique to Oakland. We know other cities face similar challenges yet many may not have access to the education, research, and capital resources we are privileged to have. For that reason, we are launching the #TechDoneRight Challenge as a prototype of a new approach to grant funding in the tech philanthropy sector.
What if the tech philanthropic funding community could see themselves more as investors? What if this shift in perspective of “investing” instead of “gifting” is what our communities deserve to feel empowered and valued?
- So, if you are a funder reading this, we need you to invest in new ways and in tech-powered organizations whose theory of change may not follow the typical “five-year arc” but rather are iterative forward learning organizations who validate what the community really needs and then decides what is scalable or not;
- If you are an organization on the ground looking for a “seed investment” to tackle the ecosystem gaps you know you really need to but have not had the resources to do so — until NOW — this challenge is for you; and, or
- If you are an organization with a lean approach and have the lived journey of the problem you are tackling — this challenge is also for you.
Join the #TechDoneRight Challenge and let’s move towards a new way of problem-solving with, for, and by the community, we are looking to serve. Join the conversation using #TDRChallenge!