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Sharing What We’re Learning

One of our central goals for the Kapor Center’s inclusive ecosystem-building work is to share what we’ve learned with other communities, creating mutually-beneficial dialogues with other organizations and municipalities that are fostering inclusive tech economies in their respective locations. In February, we were honored to host special guests from the Mayor’s offices of Washington, DC and Jackson, MS.

During a Silicon Valley site visit with Mayor Muriel Bowser, a six person team from the District of Columbia Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) came to the Kapor Center. The DMPED team has authored a terrific report, Pathways to Inclusion, which “measure[s] inclusion in the tech economy and make recommendations to close gaps where there are disparities.” We compared notes and lessons about what the Kapor Center, as an independent nonprofit entity, has been able to facilitate here in locally (with our phenomenal Tech Hire Oakland partners and through the Oakland Startup Network), and what the District’s government has spearheaded through policymaking and targeted investments.

We also had a wonderful exchange of ideas with Jackson MS Mayor, Hon. Chukwe Lumumba, and the Chief Administrative Officer, Dr. Robert Blaine. With a Blacks comprising 80% of the city’s population, Jackson has the second highest concentration of Black residents in the U.S., which combined with its educational and cultural resources, presents a unique opportunity to build a majority-minority innovation economy rooted in tech, education, healthcare, and construction. Given how our Latinx in Tech initiative has grown for the past two years, we’re curious about the possibility of a Jackson-based Startup Weekend to mobilize and activate local talent in similar ways.

(L-R) Dr. Robert Blaine, Hon. Chukwe Lumumba, Lili Gangas, Yours Truly

All in all, our respective and collective work illustrates the absolute necessity of public/private partnerships. And while “ecosystem” may be on the verge of overuse in everyday language, it is a fitting descriptor, as the contributions of multiple players ensure that the entire thing works. We look forward to continued learning partnerships with our Mississippi and Mid-Atlantic colleagues.