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Latest Articles

Celebrating Tomorrow's Innovators: The TWIX® College Reception Unwrapped

Every year AfroTech brings the best and brightest talent together to network, elevate their skills, and look ahead to discuss the future of tech. This year’s conference proved that the future couldn’t look any sweeter. The TWIX ® College Reception created an exclusive space for the students who will soon be the innovators, creators and industry disruptors of tomorrow. This private networking event gave 75 TWIX ® Scholars the opportunity to take a break from their studies so they could tap in with other up-and-coming tech talent and embrace one of the most slept-on forms of resistance: Black joy. TWIX ® partnered up with Blavity.org to transform The Reverbery into a red and gold foil-wrapped speakeasy where attendees enjoyed mouth-watering sliders, playful caricatures, interactive photo booths, and all-you-can-eat TWIX ® candy bars – and yes, we’re talking full-sized. It was the perfect backdrop for bright-eyed students eager to see what golden opportunities the tech space could...

Taylor Gordon

Dec 5, 2023

The More You Know: An In-Depth Analysis of Lupus and its Impact on the Black Community

Dr. Ashira Blazer was still a student at the Baylor College of Medicine when her understanding of lupus, a debilitating autoimmune disease, suddenly hit close to home. Her cousin had unexpectedly missed Thanksgiving dinner that year due to an illness. At the time, Blazer was studying immunology and reading about this disease extensively. “My cousin told me she had been sick. At first, I thought maybe she meant she had a cold or a stomach bug,” Blazer said. “But then, she started listing her symptoms, and I referenced my immunology textbook, thinking, ‘This could be lupus.’ I took her to my professor at the time and went with her to an appointment. She ended up being diagnosed.” Fortunately, Blazer’s cousin had access to a knowledgeable family member and trusted health resources to help her arrive at a timely lupus diagnosis. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for many Black women who live with lupus. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects women of...

Josh Rodgers

Nov 10, 2023

Gather Against the Gap: Northwestern Mutual and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Bring Together Changemakers to Drive Racial Equity

The racial wealth gap for Black Americans remains significant, directly impacting social and economic growth. For some, this wealth gap is one of the biggest hindrances to upward mobility and a key producer of financial anxiety. Organizations are working to reduce the racial wealth gap and provide a space for everyone to reach their financial goals. Northwestern Mutual , a leading financial services firm, is one of the companies committed to equity-focused work by supporting the growth and diversity of businesses, as it delivers a multiplier effect on job creation and community vitality. On October 26, Northwestern Mutual hosted Gather Against the Gap in partnership with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and brought together hundreds of leaders, academics and experts in the field to have a conversation on how to best standup initiatives and funding to reduce the racial wealth gap and sustain action for racial equity. The event was supported by the Boston...

Josh Rodgers

Nov 8, 2023

How Will Cleveland Found His Dream Job Driving Inclusive Travel with Analytics at Expedia Group

Finding Opportunity at AfroTech Will Cleveland has always had a thing for analytics. Throughout his career, he’s been charged with figuring out strategies via content curation that give customers the data they need to make the best decisions possible. He’s always tried to make sure that people who look like him are empowered with information and opportunity. It’s his mission in life. As president of his former job’s Black employee resource group, he was able to present advancement opportunities for others while also helping the company advance in its diversity efforts. It was during his attendance at AfroTech 2022 in Austin that he discovered he was destined to do even more on a greater scale. “I love attending AfroTech. It feels like a safe space where I can see people who look like me and what they’re doing in tech to help us advance,“ Cleveland says. “I attended the Expedia Group panels and got to see the innovative things they’re doing to give their customers the power when it...

William Dawson

Oct 30, 2023

Reimagining Health Care: Optum Technology’s Approach To Better Service

Dated magazines, recessed lighting, and antiquated playsets are some stereotypical items in a doctor’s office waiting room. Although modern times have caused many medical facilities to have more up-to-date assets for patients waiting to be seen, one thing has not changed. Navigating the healthcare system can be a task. From the long intake forms to associated care costs, patients routinely face some challenges when seeking the medical attention they need. However, the people at UnitedHealth Group (UHG) believe the power and innovation of technology can mitigate some of the challenges associated with patient care. The Optum technology teams at UHG are developing and applying the technology of the future to help modernize, streamline, and simplify the health system so it works better for the people it was created to serve. Through technological advances and data, Optum delivers care by empowering people, partners, and providers with the necessary guidance and tools to achieve better...

Josh Rodgers

Oct 20, 2023

Closing the Wealth Gap: How Northwestern Mutual’s Accelerator Program Is Empowering Black Entrepreneurs

Access to resources is one of the most significant barriers to entry for Black entrepreneurs. Whether it is a lack of funding or a gap in training, Black business owners have often found it challenging to tap into the same level of success–at the same rate– as some of their racial counterparts. Northwestern Mutual , a leading financial services company which has been helping people and businesses achieve financial security for more than 160 years, acknowledges this systemic challenge and is committed to investment opportunities that will help reduce the racial wealth gap. One program the company has stood up, its Black Founder Accelerator program, furthers its commitment to championing diversity, equity and inclusion. Based on recent research, Black founders receive less than two percent of venture capital funds. Northwestern Mutual is stepping in and offering each eligible entrepreneur a $100,000 investment and inclusion in a 12-week intensive program. As part of the accelerator,...

Josh Rodgers

Oct 20, 2023

Let’s Have A Super Real Chat About Life Insurance, Shall We?

Be honest: how much thought have you put into financial planning? Depending on where you are in life, you might think that you’re not making enough money for that to be a concern; or that you’re too young to be thinking about retirement or life insurance. But the truth is it’s never too early to take the necessary steps to set yourself and your family up for the future. And the idea that financial planning is one of the best ways for people of color to start leveling the playing field when it comes to generational wealth really is a thing. Especially if those plans include a life insurance policy. Now before we go any further, let’s dispel some of the shame and judgment that exists around this sensitive topic. Yes, communities of color remain severely under protected when it comes to life insurance. Yes, Grandma’s house could have stayed in the family longer if only she’d had life insurance. But if you’ve ever made a slick comment about someone’s family having to turn to...

Tai Saint-Louis

Oct 13, 2023

An Inside Look Into UnitedHealthcare Group’s Commitment to Diversity Equity And Inclusion

The United States of America seems to be at a consistent inflection point. From media-heavy events to moments of social unrest, there appears to be a pervasive tone that seeks to divide humanity rather than unite. While some would look the other way, hoping society will self-correct itself, other organizations and companies proactively work to create environments and cultures that champion justice through diversity, equity, and inclusion. UnitedHealth Group is a part of that work, intentionally implementing programs and initiatives that support and uplift their employees regardless of some societal status quo. UnitedHealth Group (UHG) created a strategic framework for advancing diversity rooted in recruitment tools, building cultural competencies, and continued education for equity and inclusion tools. For UHG, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a business priority. This working prodigy includes vast representation across demographics, including Black/African American,...

Josh Rodgers

Oct 2, 2023

How Famous Amos’ Ingredients for Success Program Honors Its Entrepreneurial Roots

  The latest round of winners of the Famous Amos Ingredients for Success Entrepreneurs Initiative have been selected, and their businesses represent an impressive cross section of the entrepreneurial talent that exists in the African American community. It’s a community that unfortunately continues to be underserved when it comes to opportunities.   Each year since 2021, Famous Amos has partnered with the National Black Chamber of Commerce to award three Black, early-stage business owners with $50,000 in unrestricted business capital. But the Ingredients For Success Entrepreneurs Initiative gives its winners and participants much more than that, coupling the grant with business and mentorship resources provided by the NBCC.   The 2023 winners– Steffanie Rivers, Emir Horton and Londyn Jackson –have not only developed impressive businesses, they’ve done so through amazing personal journeys that have put them in position to inspire and support others in their fields. And they are all...

Tai Saint-Louis

Sep 26, 2023

How One Lupus Warrior Continues Her Fight Against the Disease — and the Health Disparities Surrounding It

In a quaint restaurant in Rome, Lynett Marie—a Detroit, Michigan native—did a simple yet profound act she hadn’t done in years: She danced. Her long-awaited trip to Italy with her best friend to attend Easter Mass at the Vatican almost didn’t happen. Just months prior, Lynett Marie was bound to a wheelchair and walker due to a debilitating disease that few Americans know much about: lupus. Lynett Marie has one of the most common forms of lupus, known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), which impacts the lives of up to 300,000 Americans—and counting. SLE is a complex, chronic disease attacking the body’s immune system. Its unpredictable nature means it manifests in everyone differently, but some of the most common symptoms include fatigue, skin rashes, fevers, and pain or swelling in the joints. But when Lynett Marie, a self-described “lupus warrior,” finally found the right treatment plan for her SLE, from that point on, she says, “Things just kept getting better, and better, and...

Josh Rodgers

Sep 26, 2023

Careers In Tech: UnitedHealth Group’s Kimberly Jackson Breaks Down The Company’s Innovative Approach To DEI

Since joining UnitedHealth Group about eight years ago, Kimberly Jackson has discovered new ways to center diversity, equity and inclusion not only in her role as a leader, but in her own personal and professional growth. That renewed perspective was inspired by the company’s approach to DEI, which includes initiatives that foster a safe space for both inclusion and education. “In recent years, there’s been a purposeful shift in UHG’s resources to meet people of different backgrounds where they are,” she tells Afrotech. She adds that, while some are not unique to the company, UHG has reinvisioned these tools, creating employee resource groups where participation is not limited. As the Senior Director of OptumRX IT Client Services, Jackson has incorporated the company’s overall approach into her own department’s initiatives. “My leadership team has taken on the task of delivering DEI forums,” she explains. “And what I’ve learned through those forms is that the traditional topic of...

Tai Saint-Louis

Sep 20, 2023

Creating A Financial Blueprint For Generational Wealth

When people think about building wealth, many are drawn to the immediate gratification that they may see via social media, celebrities, etc. And many are consistently looking at diverse ways to increase their current worth, from earning a top salary, strategically investing, to starting a business or side hustle. And rightfully so. Today’s job market and economy are in flux. With major layoff announcements occurring almost weekly, earning all you can seems to be at the top of people’s minds. Considering the aforementioned, having a wealth building plan is crucial to the pathway towards building and maintaining financial wellness that leads to creating generational wealth. It all starts with developing positive savings habits and learning how investments and insurance can be wealth-gaining tools, providing security for the future – for yourself and for those you love. What is important for many is breaking down the stigma that financial health and generational wealth are only...

Josh Rodgers

Sep 5, 2023

Strengthening Your Financial Muscles: Key Ways To Create a Plan To Protect You And Your Loved Ones

One common misconception about managing money is that the decisions of one individual only affect that person. Because our lives exist in ecosystems that impact multiple people, creating a financial plan often must bear in mind all those connected to the source. But how do you establish a personal financial model that is best for the earner and still beneficial for all involved? Getting your family or loved ones on board with an agreed-upon financial support model may not be the easiest thing to do, but it is not impossible. MassMutual believes one must build that financial planning muscle to achieve those collective goals. MassMutual wants to empower people with tools to align with their loved ones on a shared vision to achieve financial dreams and peace of mind – providing an understanding of how to do so with a growth mindset. Here are a few ways to strengthen financial muscles for you and your family. Budgeting Creating a budget that accounts for all income and expenses is a...

Josh Rodgers

Aug 18, 2023

The Power Of AI - TIAA Partners With Google Cloud To Delight Its Clients

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now pervasive across communities. From ChatGPT assisting with drafting work emails to some of the culture’s favorite songs being reimagined by different artists, AI is ever-present. With the advancement of technology, companies are starting to think through and implement what it means to have AI as a part of the operational model. TIAA, a leading financial services and investment firm, is a part of that organizational shift – implementing AI technology to delight their clients. One example of this implementation is a partnership with Google Cloud. TIAA is using AI in its everyday service offerings to improve its analytical approach in its National Contact Center (NCC). The NCC is central to the TIAA customer offering when it comes to responding to requests for financial guidance and retirement planning strategies from new, existing and future clients. With a focus on customer satisfaction and more streamlined operational methods, applying Natural...

Josh Rodgers

Jun 7, 2023

Sixty Years After Making History, A New Generation Is Set To Be Inspired by The Legacy of Wendell Scott

In 1963, a Virginia native named Wendell Scott became the first African-American man to win a race at NASCAR’s highest level of competition. That feat was not repeated for another 58 years, when Bubba Wallace took home his first NASCAR Cup Series title at Talladega Superspeedway in 2021. Yet somehow, Scott’s legacy isn’t nearly as well known as that of other pioneering athletes like Jackie Robinson or Arthur Ashe. Even for those who grew up with NASCAR in the background of their childhood like Lion Forge Entertainment founder and filmmaker Dave Steward II, who vividly remembers the time in the 90s and early 2000s when the racing world saw a boom in popularity. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) As Dave Steward II entered adulthood, his father, businessman David L. Steward, was developing a professional relationship with NASCAR, supporting and spearheading a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives. That relationship eventually led to the elder Steward’s company World Wide...

Tai Saint-Louis

Jun 1, 2023