SVB’s Access to Innovation program provides educational and workplace experiences to build a more diverse and inclusive tech workforce

Silicon Valley Bank is the bank of the innovation economy, helping entrepreneurs and investors invent the future. As part of SVB’s dedication to the success of innovation, the bank recently launched Access to Innovation, a program that expands educational and job opportunities to more minority and female founders, executives and investors, as well as young people who may have never dreamed of a career in tech.

“We believe everyone should have equal access to great careers and business success,” Greg Becker, CEO of SVB, said. “The innovation economy, the ecosystem we help fuel, is full of opportunities. Through a range of programs, partnerships, volunteering and financing, we have a companywide goal to increase access to innovation for everyone.” 

Why is SVB doing this?

Tech companies report that it is challenging to find people with the skills needed to grow their businesses, and it is hampering how fast they can innovate. The bank is helping to develop new sources by looking for talent in nontraditional places. SVB also believes that a diverse workforce makes companies stronger. The goal of Access to Innovation is to transform lives by creating opportunities for underrepresented people across the innovation economy.

The numbers help underscore the size of the challenge: 

    • 83 percent of tech executives are white
    • 47 percent of U.S. startups have no women in executive roles
    • <1 percent of venture funding goes to African-American founders
    • 12 percent of venture dollars are invested in startups with a female founder

Here are some of the programs offered by SVB and its partners

With the goal of increasing the talent pool for clients, this year the bank identified one of the most needed entry-level positions among its clients was in business and data analytics. Working with EdTech startup, Pathstream, it introduced a business and data analytics certificate. The certificate program teaches high-demand skills such as SQL, Tableau, and Python. The four-course certificate program is up and running now at Cañada College and Foothill College in Silicon Valley and is scheduled to expand to additional U.S. cities in 2020.

East Palo Alto Mayor Lisa Gauthier enrolled in the first segment of business analytics courses. She says it provides economic mobility and is “a great opportunity for adults interested in technology to enter the tech field.” Gauthier thanks SVB for being an institution to lead by example. 

Teaming up with Year Up, the bank hires paid interns, many of them come from backgrounds underrepresented in tech. Others have not made it through college for one reason or another. SVB clients are also asked to mentor and host Year Up interns. Today, 16 Year Up alumni are now working full-time at SVB in a variety of roles.

SVB was thrilled to partner this year with AfroTech and American Family Insurance to support the AfroTech Cup, which offers prizes to founders of early-stage startups. Shown above are this year’s incredible crop of semifinalists – Audios, Kliit Health and Spendebt.

Each year, the bank invites entrepreneurial college students to spend time with world-class investors and industry leaders. The Trek, as it’s called, provides an immersive learning experience featuring interviews with industry luminaries and workshops teaching practical skills. 

Trek alumni, April Lovelady, is a Black woman entrepreneur and college professor who worked for NASA, co-founded a biomedical company and earned a Ph.D. in engineering. During the Trek, she had an aha moment, one that she said gave her new confidence in taking her next step as an entrepreneur.

The Trek changed my perspective of success and failure,” Lovelady said. 

SVB believes it is time to positively disrupt how hiring happens because expanding access will help sustain the success of innovative companies and build stronger communities. 

Learn more about  Access to Innovation to join the cause and build a more inclusive and diverse tech workforce ready to tackle the future.

This piece is brought to you in partnership with Silicon Valley Bank.