This has been a most extraordinary year, without a doubt the most significant in our existence. City Startup Labs came out of the 2020 on a positive note, having been able to service a select group of participants through our ReEntry Entrepreneurship Program (REEP) and then acquire the assets of Black Tech Interactive/Black Tech Charlotte earlier this year.
CLASS OF 2021 – THE COVID EDITION
With the help of our partners, Wells Fargo, the Charlotte Area Fund, the Mecklenburg County Criminal Justice Services Office, the NC Idea Foundation, Ally Financial, and Google Fiber, we were able to regroup after last year and focus again on the implementation of the LEARN/EARN/BUILD model. The LEARN Phase, which we wrapped at the end of August, was where we designed and delivered business and professional core competencies training, digital tech services training across several disciplines, all resulting in certifications, including through our partnership with Facebook & Coursera and entrepreneurial training. 15 of the original 16 participants completed LEARN. We have now entered into the EARN Phase, with 6 working on their business enterprises (5 of the 6 are directly utilizing their digital tech services training), another 4 are working with Digital Charlotte as Digital Navigators (a program that CSL helped to get off of the ground at the beginning of the year). Others are either using their new skillsets with their current employers (2 are helping with the expansion of those businesses) and 2 others are working with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s West Boulevard WISP Project.
THE 1ST ANNUAL AFROFUTURISM FEST
We have been positioning BTI/BTCLT to imaginatively address developing Black Tech entrepreneurs and talent and to foster conversations about the role African Americans can play in technological advancement and innovation for social impact.
One important way we used to ignite those conversations was with the 1st Annual AfroFuturism Fest in Charlotte. Afrofuturism gained more prominence in the last decade (even though it first was coined in the early 90’s) when the movie Black Panther posited the idea that advanced technologies and innovations could be imagined, developed and deployed through a distinctly Afrocentric lens.
It was a fun-tastic and thought-provoking Festival (read the recap here) and BTI plans for each subsequent event to build upon this imaginative inaugural.
City Startup Labs has received a generous award from the Bank of America (more to come regarding this announcement). According to Paul Burley, Director, Community Relations Manager, “we’re thrilled to be your partner in making a lasting impact on advancing racial equality and economic opportunity for our local neighbors.” This 2-year commitment will be used to continue CSL’s important work with REEP, in support of returning citizens.
City Startup Labs receives Black Community Commitment Grant for ReEntry Entrepreneurship Program from Jordan Brand