Notes from the Road

This month, Kapor Center staff have attended a handful of conferences and events ranging from topics on increasing the diversity and success of African American women in technology leadership, to coordinating and sharing strategies amongst funders in African American communities, to addressing the employment diversity challenges and opportunities of technology sector. Here are a few notes from recent travels…


Brian Dixon, Kapor Capital associate, returned from FOCUS100 thinking, “sometimes investors say they don’t invest in African American women led companies because they can’t find them, but here I was at FOCUS 100 in a roomful of African American woman who engage all day, every day… launching and growing technology companies.”

FOCUS100 is produced by digitalundivided to bring together “top tech companies founded/co-founded by black women, innovative companies… top investors, and more for the most diverse tech conference on the planet.” Over 80% of FOCUS100 speakers are people of color. Kapor Center is proud to have sponsored fellowships for 10 women to attend.

Brian was impressed with the message of Mercaris founder Kelly James on the importance of a alignment between funders and a company’s founder. A founder needs her investors’ confidence in her leadership and her business plan to make it through the ups and downs typical of startups.focus100

Missed FOCUS100? Check out the conferences’ Storify, recapping each day of the event.

ABFE Learning Action Network

Cedric (Brown, managing partner) attended a jam-packed ABFE’s Learning Action Network convening, which brings together funders from across the nation on a quarterly basis to strategize, share, and support each other’s work, mostly around the black male achievement movement.

At this most recent gathering in New Orleans, a host of nonprofit organizations presented, providing rich information and solid program models for work in the sector. Cedric found the examples of BMe particularly insightful: “they are presenting images and facts to counter the current negative narratives about black males. If you have facts that accompany strong stories and strong images, people are more likely to shift their perceptions and take better action than they would before. Taking action through data and stories is very compelling.”

Also impressive was the New Orleans-based Partnership for Youth Development, which developed an “insulated pipeline,” imagining the K-career, school-to-work pipeline supplemented by educational and youth development enrichment activities. Wrapped around those core services are transportation, health, and mental health resources that complete the ideal ecosystem of support that all youth need to successfully more into adulthood.

In a similar vein, Cedric found the research and lessons from The California Endowment insightful. As part of their Sons & Brothers initiative, TCE identified early life markers which enable individuals to become economically and socially mobile adults. These include reading in 3rd grade, passing math and science in middle school, establishing healthy relationships with adults, and enrolling in postsecondary education or training, among others. For Cedric, those were tremendously helpful to leverage as a research-based framework for our College Bound Brotherhood partnership.

Over the course of the gathering,”the information we got was terrific to the point of overwhelming. Using common frameworks across our organizations is really helpful,” said Cedric.

For the latest ABFE updates, check out ABFE’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

And we want to hear from you if you attended a tech diversity event lately or if you can suggest one that’s coming up.

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