Innovation Lab (iLab) Oakland is a three month residency capturing Oakland’s constructive, community- centered spirit to serve underserved communities through tech, powered by the Kapor Center.
Oakland is a unique space for growth as it carries a history and culture of community orientation, intersectional activism, and a grassroots approach to solving local issues. Silicon Valley boasts ideas of disruptive innovation and radical solutions; However, Oakland keeps it real as a leader with a reputation & history of constructive social change. Oakland’s local talent and entrepreneurs could have unprecedented opportunities in our growing innovation economy if tapped in. In order to unlock equitable opportunity for our community, we all have an imperative to do tech right by acknowledging and dismantling community barriers — in order to fully thrive as one community and ultimately build new inclusive systems.
It is important to acknowledge that with rampant displacement and gentrification and our mission to serve people of color, we expand our reach to the broader East Bay, but continue to center around our home in Oakland.
Why Tech Startups?
Tech has changed and influenced, for better and for worse, the way we interact with others and the larger world. Thus far, the majority of those designing these interactions are not representative of the world. The majority of those benefitting from technological advancements are not representative of the world. We need to change this.
Why is the 1% designing for the 1%, leveraging the shoulders of the 99%?
What if we focused on doing tech right by fostering a holistic approach to utilizing technology to close inequalities instead of creating them? What if tech brought economic growth to Oakland on our terms?
Tech allows us to flip power dynamics. Tech is shifting to enable anyone to create solutions for their communities’ problems. Silicon valley talks about innovation, but employing and serving the 99% is where the real innovation lies. All technology will eventually reach a point of stagnation, unless we truly include those with diverse backgrounds and insights to move technology forward.
Oakland’s change-seeking, community oriented culture holds the opportunity to challenge Tech power structures to invest in and empower our community. It starts with holding both a figurative and literal space in these environments and enabling access to important resources for the community’s success.
The Bay hosts extreme wealth disparity, with people of color disproportionately affected. The tech industry continues to experience exponential growth, and as a result, our poverty gap and rate of displacement grow even faster.
Growth doesn’t need to look like this…
We could grow a regenerative economy: Hire those further from opportunity, Build for those further from opportunity, Spend to create more opportunity, Invest in those investing in others
This is why it is imperative that we make investing in our communities of color a priority in every dollar we spend. We must include everyone, equitably in growth.
The iLab funnels resources to early stage organizations seeking to do Tech right and creating pathways to invest holistically in our community. Join our community as we work to build equitable economic opportunity, and take part in this change we need. Apply here
Who are we looking to support?
iLab Oakland is for East Bay committed early stage organizations seeking space and community to grow their tech initiatives, whether you are a for-profit or non-profit.
We are seeking East Bay committed early stage organizations:
We want people and organizations who put community first.
This could mean your target market is the East Bay or your talent pipeline is from the East Bay. This means prioritizing investing in the local community and proactively seeking to invest in diverse talent.
We are seeking tech initiatives beyond the idea stage:
Technology should be a key way in which you differentiate your organization and its values.
Your organization should rely on tech to operate in some way.
This could mean that technology is a key way in which you deliver your services. This could mean that you are producing technology products or that you are enabling the tech industry’s operations. Our current residents range from tech training programs to 3D printing software to deportation defense apps to online art publications. Check out our website to learn about our current cohort