Entrepreneurs Felecia Hatcher and Derick Pearson founded the Black Tech Miami initiative in 2012 with a vision of fostering more opportunities for Black innovators in the city’s startup ecosystem.
As a result of their commitment to the cause — developing youth coding initiative Code Fever Miami and Blacktech Week, and expanding Black Girls Code to Miami — their vision has been recently bolstered by a $2.1 million investment that will support the Center for Black Innovation, The Miami Times reports.
“We have a long-term goal where we hope to raise more money to create a foundation we believe can last long term,” said Pearson.
The funding is courtesy of the Knight Foundation, which contributed $1.5 million just this month, and other financial commitments, including $350,000 from social justice reform-focused organization, Surdna Foundation, and $250,000 from Comcast NBCUniversal.
“As a cornerstone for opportunity, the Center provides the technical assistance necessary to build out businesses anchored in the community and create jobs. They’ve built a brand and reputation that builds successful connections,“ said Patrice Green, Surdna’s inclusive economies program officer. “We’re not the biggest foundation, but we hope to give folks significant dollars that are substantial enough to be able to move the goal post.”
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According to the center’s site, the hub is a think tank for smart communities and a vehicle for change in the industry. It will feature virtual and in-person programming centered on angel investor training, venture capital matchmaking, and data collection to strategically help solve challenges in Black tech. Also, Black-owned startups can join a business accelerator program that will help shape their financial models and give them access to valuable resources.
“Part of this work is meeting people where they are to make sure they have the resources they need,” said Raul Moas, director for Knight’s Miami program. “We have to do more to make sure that there are spaces in Miami for Black entrepreneurs.”
Hatcher and Pearson hope to raise an additional $2.1 million for the center and will kick off a virtual conference for Black tech entrepreneurs in February 2021.
“When you look at startups, there is a high failure rate that depends on if they can access the right network to help the business grow,” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, executive vice president and chief diversity officer for Comcast. “We’ve been in a great position to work with Felecia and Derick. They’re not just creating revenue for themselves, but care about sustaining Black communities when there is a great need for something like that in our country now.”