The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently presented a $1.2 million grant to the organizers of Black Tech Week—a yearly event for fostering black innovation and entrepreneurship.
Black Tech Week kicked off in 2015. It is a gathering of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, tech founders, and other thought leaders held every year in the Miami area.
The event is the brainchild of the founders of Code Fever, Felecia Hatcher and Derick Pearson. Hatcher was named a White House Champion of Change in 2014 as part of President Obama’s initiative to create STEM opportunities and education.
Hatcher also helped facilitate Black Enterprise’s BE Smart Case Competition in 2016. In the competition, students from historically black colleges and universities work for weeks to solve a real-work business problem presented to them.
The serial entrepreneur spoke with Black Enterprise last year about juggling dedication to both her nonprofit Code Fever and the Black Tech Week event.
“I would love to say that every ball is always managed and floating in the air at the same time, but that’s just not realistic. We have a team that loves what we’re doing, and we understand that we all benefit when we’re attracting the people, resources, funding, and all those things that come with building a healthy ecosystem in South Florida,” said Hatcher.
The grant will allow Code Fever to establish a Venture Capitalist in Residence Program.
“Sometimes, entrepreneurs within the black community lack the ‘friends & family round’ opportunity that many white entrepreneurs have,” said Hatcher in an emailed statement.
“When you drop in a VC in residence, or a programmer in residence, into communities where these ecosystem elements are lacking, it signals a shift in the very fabric of our venture capital and tech industry. It encourages inclusivity and more equal access to funding that can be felt in every layer of the technology field,” she said.