New funding enables year-round programs to empower Black innovators, creatives and technologists
MIAMI, FL –To expand opportunity for Black entrepreneurs and advance Miami as a diverse and inclusive innovation hub, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently announced $1.2 million in new support for Code Fever’s Black Tech Week and related programs throughout the year.
Based in Miami, Code Fever connects people of color to the startup and innovation economy in South Florida. Through education and programming, the nonprofit creates better access for startup founders of color. With support from Knight Foundation in 2015, Code Fever launched Black Tech Week. The six-day conference has celebrated and connected innovators of color to advance their work, access and impact. The new support from Knight—which will be awarded over three years—will facilitate the expansion of Black Tech Week programming year round to include Black Tech Weekend and continued monthly office hours and meetups. Code Fever will also introduce VC in Residence, a new program that will invite venture capitalists to spend a month in Miami advising and guiding minority entrepreneurs.
“For the past two years, Black Tech Week has attracted over a thousand participants who are eager to connect, learn and explore ideas around how to grow Black entrepreneurship and make sure people of color are better represented in the tech industry,” said Felecia Hatcher, co-founder of Code Fever. “The talent and the demand are there. With our new, expanded programming, we’ll be able to provide greater year-round access to networking, mentorship and funding.” The first Black Tech Week-end — a condensed version of Black Tech Week — will take place Feb. 23-25, with a focus on business development and raising capital. Entrepreneurs will engage with potential investors—such as Michael Seibel, CEO of Y Combinator; Richard Kerby of Venrock Capital; and Marlon Nichols of Cross Culture Ventures—and come together for panels and presentations on topics ranging from pitching investors and asset framing to storytelling and building hubs for inclusive in-novation.
This year, Black Tech Week will take place Sept. 25-30. The event will feature panels, an interactive tech career fair, workshops, networking opportunities and competitions in which entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to potential investors. The conference aims to engage government leaders and educators this year with a new government tech track. Code Fever will also expand its monthly Black Tech meetups and office hours to engage Miami’s Black entrepreneurs and innovators while connecting them to advisers, mentors and investors throughout the year.
“Developing opportunities for traditionally underrepresented Black entrepreneurs is critical to creating an inclusive and equitable innovation ecosy-stem in Miami,” said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation’s Miami program director. “We’re excited about Black Tech Week’s evolution from a single conference to a model of ongoing support to Black innovators throughout the year. The move will help close the gap in technology education and access to funding, while expanding and diversifying the base of active entrepreneurs in Miami.”
Since its launch, Black Tech Week’s impact has grown considerably, with attendance at the flagship event increasing from 1,000 in 2015 to 1,600 in 2016. Past speakers and panelists have included successful innovators and entrepreneurs from around the country, including NFL champion and AsktheDoctor.com founder Israel Idonije, Maker’s Row founder Matthew Burnett, Dreamit Ventures Managing Director William Crowder, Priceline.com co-founder Jeff Hoffman, former Twitter Engineering Manager Leslie Miley, Kapor Capital partner Brian Dixon, former Coca-Cola Global Chief Diversity Officer John Lewis, Digital undivided founder Kathryn Finney, Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz, LISNR founder Rodney Williams, Kairos founder Brian Brackeen, and BCT Partners Chairman and CEO Randal Pinkett, Ph.D.
Support for Code Fever’s Black Tech programming is part of Knight Foundation’s broader effort to invest in Miami’s emerging innovators and entrepreneurs as a tool to build community, while fostering talent and expanding economic opportunity. Over the past three years Knight has made more than 200 investments in entrepreneurship in South Florida.
For more about Black Tech Weekend and Black Tech Week, including other sponsors, the schedule of events, confirmed speakers and registration information, visit blacktechweek.com.
About Code Fever
Code Fever is a community program committed to getting our communities up to code. The mission of Code Fever is to inspire more underserved minority students between the ages of 13 to 21 to code, build and create technology enterprises within their communities, close the gap in technology education, and become leaders in STEM fields by increasing the number of young startup founders. For more, visit codefevermiami.com.
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.