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Meet The 2024 AFROTECH™ Future 50 Who Are Actively Shaping A Better Tomorrow

It’s officially time to announce the 2024 AFROTECH™ Future 50! The AFROTECH™ Future 50 is celebrated in our digital hub and social media platforms. During previous years, the individuals have also been honored in person at the annual AFROTECH™ Conference. The categories for the 2024 AFROTECH™ Future 50 are Dynamic Investor, Future Maker, Visionary Founder, Changemaker, and Corporate Catalyst. The criteria for each are as follows, as previously shared by AFROTECH™: Dynamic Investors are venture capitalists who have made significant contributions to advancing underserved tech founders. Future Makers have spearheaded groundbreaking tech innovation. Visionary Founders lead remarkable company growth and promote diversity and inclusion. Changemakers have made a significant social impact in the tech industry. Corporate Catalysts actively promote diversity and redefine and implement initiatives to do so. Established in 2022, the AFROTECH™ Future 50 aims to spotlight contributions Black tech...

Ngozi Nwanji

May 30, 2024

Gardening During Her Early Years Planted Wawa Gatheru's Passion For Launching A Climate Organization Empowering Black Women To Become Leaders

Wawa Gatheru is striving to make the world a better place. Changemaker As previously reported by AFROTECH™, the Connecticut native and Rhodes Scholar founded Black Girl Environmentalist (BGE), an organization creating a more equitable space in the climate sector by empowering “Black girls, women, and non-binary people across environmental disciplines.” Her focus on the environment was born while gardening with her mom and grandmother during her early years, and she learned “the ethic of reciprocity and care for the planet,” her website mentions. It would not be until high schoo l that Gatheru would identify as an “environmentalist.” At 15, she took an environmental science course that framed it as a justice issue, revealing to her the lack of intersectionality in the field, and she recognized the field’s intersectionality gap. In higher learning, Gatheru further engaged in the climate space by pursuing environmental science and policy at the University of Connecticut (UConn), per...

Samantha Dorisca

May 30, 2024

Sian Proctor Has Been Chasing Space Throughout Her Lifetime And Became The First Black Woman To Pilot A Spacecraft

Representation in space exploration is crucial, and Sian Proctor stands among the luminaries. A woman on a mission, Proctor aspired to have an impact on society. The geoscientist had been “chasing space” throughout her lifetime, Space.com mentions. Born the same year Neil Armstrong made history with his first steps on the moon during NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, and raised with a father working at the NASA tracking station on Guam, Proctor would go on to make her own significant contributions. Historical Firsts As previously reported by AFROTECH™, Proctor became the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft. This was accomplished after she earned a Ph.D. along with a pilot’s license and SCUBA certification. She also completed a four-month mission in a building located near a Hawaiian volcano for an experiment imitating the conditions and stresses on a habitat like Mars in 2013. Ultimately, Proctor’s expertise, creativity, and dedication to her JEDI space initiative — a just, equitable,...

Samantha Dorisca

May 30, 2024

12-Year-Old E’leese Shelton Heads To College And Aspires To Become A Pediatrician

This 12-year-old — E’leese Shelton — is heading to college! According to WCTV, E’leese graduated from Tallavana Christian School in Havana, FL, surrounded by supportive family. “It’s just kind of surreal,” she explained, according to the outlet. “I believe it’s mostly because of my support system, like my friends, my mom, my church community.” While to some, a 12-year-old accomplishing this feat may come as a surprise, it is not for E’leese’s mother, Danrell. When her daughter was just 2 years old, she already knew she was unique by how quickly she picked up learning on a LeapFrog tablet. “I got her a LeapFrog tablet, and we didn’t know that she was self-taught until it was telling her to do the letters, uppercase, lowercase letters, and we didn’t realize that she knew all of it,” Danrell explained, according to WCTV. “I did not teach her any of it. She just had the LeapFrog, and she knew it.” Additionally, E’leese continued to accelerate in learning, reading at the age of 3 and...

Samantha Dorisca

May 30, 2024

90-Year-Old Ed Dwight Makes History And Becomes The Oldest Person To Fly To Space

Ed Dwight has officially made history! On May 19, Blue Origin’s New Shepard NS-25 launched its first human flight in nearly two years, which Dwight was onboard for — making him the oldest person to go to space at age 90, according to ABC News. As previously reported by AFROTECH™, the former Air Force captain made history in 1961 after being selected by President John F. Kennedy as the first Black astronaut candidate in the U.S. But after completing the Aerospace Research Pilot School (ARPS) and receiving a recommendation from the U.S. Air Force to move forward, he wasn’t selected for the NASA Astronaut Corps — missing out on the opportunity to fly to space. However, now over 60 years later, Dwight has reached the monumental milestone. “You’ve waited a long time for this opportunity and all of us who stand on your shoulders could not be happier,” Charles Bolden, the first Black NASA administrator, told the outlet. As an astronaut, Bolden himself served on four missions to space. “I...

Ngozi Nwanji

May 20, 2024

Morgan State University Receives $1.05M Grant To Prepare Its 'Students To Be At The Forefront Of The FinTech Revolution'

Morgan State University is receiving extended financial backing from a leading company that works to “build breakthrough crypto solutions.” On May 14, the National FinTech Center at the Baltimore, MD-based HBCU announced it had been awarded a three-year $1,050,000 grant from Ripple. The new funding will go toward advancing the center’s blockchain and fintech research, education, programming, faculty and student technical projects, ecosystem development, operational support, educational workshops, blockchain clubs, and a fintech solution incubator, per a news release. “This generous $1,050,000 grant is not just an investment; it’s a catalyst that propels our ability to innovate, collaborate, and prepare our students to be at the forefront of the FinTech revolution,” said Ali Emdad, Ph.D., f ounding director of the National Center for the Study of Blockchain and FinTech. “The ongoing partnership with Ripple stands as a beacon, illuminating the path toward a transformative educational...

Ngozi Nwanji

May 15, 2024

Charles Barkley Will Donate $1M To St. Mary's Academy Fueled By New Orleans Teens Who Discovered New Way To Prove Pythagoras’ Theorem

Charles Barkley is inspired by students Calcea Johnson and Ne’Kiya Jackson who made history with their mathematics discovery. As previously reported by AFROTECH™, Johnson and Jackson attended St. Mary’s Academy, a Catholic school located in New Orleans, LA, and are responsible for finding a new way to solve the Pythagorean Theorem using trigonometry without circular logic, which had been a mystery for many mathematicians for 2,000 years. WWL-TV 4 reporter Sam Winstrom spoke to the pair in March 2023 about their accomplishment. Per his report, “Calcea and Ne’Kiya explained it to me like this: Basically, trigonometry is based on Pythagoras’ Theorem (A^2 + B^2 = C^2, sound familiar?), so using trigonometry to prove Pythagoras’ Theorem is what’s known as circular logic.” Johnson, who is now a freshman at Louisiana State University, spoke to the university ahead of an interview she and Jackson had with “60 Minutes” on May 5, 2024. Johnson revealed to LSU that their discovery was...

Samantha Dorisca

May 15, 2024

Oluwami Dosunmu-Ogunbi Makes History As The First Black Woman To Obtain A Ph.D. In Robotics At The University Of Michigan

University of Michigan (U-M) graduate Oluwami Dosunmu-Ogunbi has made history! The Street Journal reports she has earned a Ph.D. in robotics, the first for a Black woman at the institution. Reflecting on her milestone and speaking in front of thousands of people during the university’s 2024 commencement ceremony, she said, “If you do not know me right now that is OK, but I want you to remember me as the University of Michigan’s first Black woman to get a Ph.D. in Robotics. We did it class of 2024. We can officially call ourselves Michigan engineers.” She later took to LinkedIn and commented further stating, “Speaking at Commencement was the experience of a lifetime! To receive a standing ovation from a crowd of over 70,000 people in the largest stadium in North America…. Oh how far have I ascended! That little girl with big dreams is not so little anymore. She has become a GIANT.” Dosunmu-Ogunbi’s road to her doctoral started in high school. She recalls being “fixated” on the “funny...

Samantha Dorisca

May 14, 2024

Twin Sisters Have Been Named Valedictorian And Salutatorian At Godby High School In Florida

Excellence is in the DNA for twin sisters Llayna and Saniah Maul. According to WTXL-27, the sisters have been named valedictorian and salutatorian of Amos B. Godby High School Class of 2024 in Tallahassee, FL. “It’s just been both of us trying really hard at school,” valedictorian Llayna said, per the outlet. The accomplishments were driven by the sisters’ respect for education and their teachers. Llayna commented, “They’re dedicating their lives to be able to teach you. It’s worthwhile to just focus and pay attention and really put forth that effort to make them proud.” While the twins are set to walk the stage, they are already preparing for their journey ahead. They are currently enrolled in classes at Tallahassee Community College so they can have a head start on their studies in college. “I don’t work for the A or the high GPA, I work just so I can be the best I can be,”  Saniah expressed , per WTXL-27. As for their motivation to continue striving for greatness, the sisters...

Samantha Dorisca

May 9, 2024

Georgia Tech’s First Black Graduate, Ronald Yancey, Presents Granddaughter With Diploma For Master's Degree In Electrical And Computer Engineering

It was a special day for Ronald Yancey, Georgia Institute of Technology’s first Black graduate. CNN reports Yancey presented his granddaughter Deanna Yancey with her diploma for a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at the school’s commencement ceremony held on Friday, May 3, 2024 . This marked a full-circle moment for several reasons. Yancey had applied to her grandfather’s alma mater to partake in their online master’s program after she received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Penn State University in 2020. “I didn’t tell my family I was applying, so when I got in, I got to read the acceptance email to my grandfather,” Deanna said in a news release. “He was so happy. He almost started jumping; he was so excited.” Deanna’s feat was made possible because Ronald had helped to break down racial barriers at the university. He endured various hardships during his time at the school. From the start, Ronald had faced two rejections from the school, and the...

Samantha Dorisca

May 8, 2024

17-Year-Old LeAnna Roberts Obtains Master's Degree From The University Of Alabama

LeAnna Roberts is the embodiment of academic excellence! The 17-year-old received her master’s degree in business administration with a healthcare management concentration, from the University of Alabama on May 4, 2024, in Tuscaloosa, AL, WBRC-6 reports. “Looking back, four years ago when I started high school, I would have never have imagined. This was never a plan that I had or something that I had in the cards for myself,” she told the outlet. Two years prior, Roberts had earned an associate’s degree in science from Shelton State Community College while she simultaneously graduated from Central High School in Tuscaloosa. “When I started my 9th grade year, I knew I wanted a challenge, and I began to take dual enrollment courses at Shelton State Community College,” Roberts said, per WBRC-6. Roberts would then head to the University of Alabama as a junior at 16 years old, earning a bachelor’s degree in biology. Reflecting on her academic success, Roberts credits her parents for...

Samantha Dorisca

May 7, 2024

Slutty Vegan Founder Pinky Cole Hayes Gifts $8.9M To Savannah State University Graduates To Set Them Up For Entrepreneurial Success

Savannah State University’s class of 2024 have received a favorable start in their next chapter. According to her Instagram, while serving as commencement speaker, Slutty Vegan and Bar Vegan Founder Pinky Cole Hayes shared the news that $8.9 million would be gifted to the Georgia Historically Black College and University (HBCU) graduates in partnership with Operation Hope and One Million Black Businesses (1MBB). “We are excited about this fantastic opportunity for our students and grateful to Mrs. Cole Hayes for leading this investment opportunity,” Savannah State University Interim President Cynthia Robinson Alexander, said, according to VegOut. The investment will support an “Entrepreneurial Starter Pack,” which will gift students with mentorship from 1MBB, educational resources, a free three-month subscription to Shopify, and an eight-week small business training course that will encompass business plan development and financial management, VegOut notes. “I am passionate about...

Samantha Dorisca

May 7, 2024

Spelman College Students Win $1M Goldman Sachs Pitch Competition

Spelman College students have been reigning undefeated for the Goldman Sachs Market Madness Competition through the HBCU Possibilities Program. In April 2024, Victoria Cain, Makhi Frempong, Olivia Rivera-Spann, and Symone Thompson won the pitch competition and its $1 million top prize, according to a news release. The victory marks the HBCU’s third win in four years. “Emerging victorious in the Goldman Sachs Market Madness competition is a genuine reflection of our unwavering perseverance, meticulousness and the goodness of God,” said Frempong, who is an economics major, according to the news release. “This exceptional contest provided us with a platform to hone our abilities and visualize our forthcoming roles as analysts in the industry. It is a remarkable feat to be part of Spelman’s enduring heritage by virtue of our hard work. This journey has been truly extraordinary, demonstrating our growth as professionals in an astonishing manner.” The win came after Frempong, Cain,...

Ngozi Nwanji

May 3, 2024

Tahra Grant Is Now The First Black Woman To Be Named Chief Comms Officer At A Major Hollywood Studio

Sony Pictures Entertainment has officially announced its next EVP, Chief Communications Officer, and the move is a major one… a historic feat, if you will. According to a press release shared with AFROTECH™, Tahra Grant will serve in the position, succeeding Robert Lawson who will relocate to the company’s headquarters in Tokyo, Japan as SVP of Corporate Communications for the entire Sony Group. Not only is Grant the first Black woman to be named Chief Comms Officer at a major Hollywood studio, she is also the only Black woman to hold the position at a major studio among the stars. Since joining the studio in 2016, Grant has “streamlined and sharpened corp comm ops, handling crisis and issues with def skills during Covid and the double strikes, before and after,” per the report. Within a year with the company, she was promoted to SVP of Media Relations and her expertise in the industry continues to expand. She has also worked on several Sony blockbusters, which include Little Women,...

Shanique Yates

May 1, 2024

Joe Budden Says He's Made About $4M From His Success In Podcasting And Offers Advice To The Industry — 'This Is Not Unimaginable If You Work Hard'

Joe Budden is getting candid about his career podcast earnings. According to Vibe, the rapper-turned-podcast-host recently shared that he has earned at least $7 million since he made the career transition, pocketing a reported $4 million from that after taxes. “Off podcasting, off of this?” Budden said during an episode of “The Joe Budden Podcast.” “All together in the whole 10 years? About $4 million… Gross is $7 million.” He also opened up about how he and his team managed to get to those numbers, noting that inking partnerships with various brands along the way has been beneficial. “Early on we were doing it for free,” Budden recalled. “Then we hit a little lick, Spotify. Then n—as left, the building crumbled a little bit, and my friends came and saved the day.” As previously reported by AFROTECH™, he shared the real reason that he walked away from Spotify’s initial offer. “In business, there are signs, for me, that show faith in a relationship,” Budden said at the time. “And me...

Shanique Yates

Apr 26, 2024