Today, Thursday, May 11, Change Catalyst is holding its second Tech Inclusion Forum of the year in Detroit, Michigan, after a successful tour kick-off in Austin in March. Still to come on the tour are stops in Seattle, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Nashville, Minneapolis, Chicago, Durham, Miami, Puerto Rico, London, and Sydney.
When Change Catalyst comes to talk about the state of diversity and inclusion in a new local tech ecosystem, we are very intentional about gaining the perspectives from the local stakeholders. They know what’s going on in their local communities much more than we could ever know from our home in the Bay Area.
Local folks know the history of their city and the region; they are more acutely aware of, and affected by, the local political, cultural, and social challenges; and they are much better positioned to come up with solutions. Our job, then, is to facilitate conversations and highlight the people and organizations that are doing the great work.
Here are a few organizations that are driving an inclusive tech future in Detroit.
The closing line of the promo video on the TechTown Detroit About page claims, “Business by business, block by block, we’re fueling the comeback of a great American city.” In one sentence, they have clearly established both their local pride as well as their intentionality around creating a thriving and inclusive city.
TechTown Detroit — part coworking space and entrepreneurial hub in midtown Detroit, part business accelerator and incubator, and part catalyst leading the charge to transform Detroit’s underserved neighborhoods into vibrant and dense communities — is clearly focused on supporting entrepreneurs and startups from diverse backgrounds, while also building the city’s business districts.
The founders of TechTown pride themselves on truly getting what Detroit is all about — where it falls short, yes, but more importantly they see its potential for growth and the myriad opportunities that can be capitalized upon.
Journi — an organization dedicated to equipping urban communities with the skills and resources necessary to jumpstart their local economies — is all about building an authentic tech ecosystem in the city of Detroit. Their mission is to empower individuals from underserved, urban communities by providing them with the tech education needed to compete and thrive in the local ecosystem.
Journi offers immersive courses, youth-centered programming, beneficial employment opportunities, start up education, and socioeconomic resources. Journi is driven by three core values: authenticity, fearlessness, and integrity; and the founders come from a variety of backgrounds spanning business, technology, and entrepreneurship.
To build an inclusive tech ecosystem in Detroit takes a strong vision, and requires tapping into the heart and spirit of its residents. Like TechTown Detroit, Journi understands the mindset of local youth, and it is this commitment to building relationships––combined with comprehensive educational opportunities––that gives students the skills, experience, and confidence to enter into the local tech industry.
In the midst of ubiquitous co-working spaces, how does Bamboo Detroit stand out from the crowd? By bringing an intentionality to building an inclusive community with a focus on personal and professional growth. Because they’ve created a culture that values diversity, the Bamboo Detroit community is always sharing, collaborating, hiring, and growing together.
And it’s that sense of togetherness that keeps the members of the community inspired to launch new technologies, create better products, and showcase their art around the world. Bamboo prides itself on its diversity, which is seen through the success stories of its members, who believe firmly that when you have a diverse community you have more perspectives, which leads to more room for collaboration and innovation.
Which of course leads to the ultimate goal of making the world a better place for all of us to live.
A campus-based entrepreneurship program, Blackstone LaunchPad, is designed to support and mentor students, staff, and alumni––regardless of major, experience, or discipline. Whether you’ve got a new idea, and already formed company, or are just curious to learn about potential opportunities, Blackstone LaunchPad has something for every stage of the entrepreneurial journey.
Blackstone Launchpad is a global network of organizations with a local presence in Detroit at Wayne State University, where they provide consulting, workshops, and networking events all aimed at strengthening the entrepreneurial culture on campus.
One of the Blackstone LaunchPad’s key initiatives is the Innovation Warriors Fund, a pitch competition for Wayne State students seeking pre-seed funds. The Warrior Fund can provide up to $5,000 in startup capital, an invaluable resource for any entrepreneur, and especially for a college student just entering into the business world.