PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce today announced that four organizations have been selected to receive a combined $500,000 through the PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative, which aims to position Philadelphia as one of the top—and most diverse—tech hubs in the nation. Through this initiative, the City is investing in organizations and programs that enhance technology skills for the future talent pipeline, enabling more Black and brown Philadelphians to be trained in technology fields and prepared for tech-related jobs of the near term and the future.
“Since attending South by Southwest in 2017 and witnessing the limited diversity of the American tech sector first-hand, I have been committed to ensuring Philadelphia’s tech talent pool reflects the diversity of our residents,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Philadelphia has all the ingredients to become a national leader in fostering a diverse, innovative tech sector—with a specific focus on ensuring more Black and brown Philadelphians are trained with the skills they need to succeed in one of the fastest growing and most lucrative industries.”
“Building strong, diverse talent pipelines is one of the most sustainable forms of business attraction and retention, which remains critical as we work to drive inclusive economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sylvie Gallier Howard, Acting Commerce Director. “This investment will help ensure companies—especially in growth sectors like tech—choose Philadelphia as their home and will make our city a beacon for diverse tech talent.”
Through the PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative, the City sought proposals from organizations, which were evaluated on their ability to deliver innovative programming in three different categories:
- Tech Talent Pipeline Development — Organizations that were awarded funding for this focus area will work to retain Black or brown residents in higher-ed and expose those students to tech employment opportunities; connect and place students into paid internships; establish clear connections with local colleges, universities, and education partners; and expand the number of private sector employers in tech and tech-enabled industries that provide internships. The organizations selected for this category were Campus Philly, Coded By Kids, and Venture for America, which were each awarded $100,000.
- Expand and Strengthen Diverse Tech Startups — The organization that was awarded funding for this focus area will utilize the funds to invest in underrepresented startup tech founders and provide mentorship and access to established tech companies to support their growth. Within Coded by Kids’ OnE Philadelphia framework, mentorships will provide significant expertise to startup founders in critical areas including leadership, sales and marketing, operations, business development, and investment and capital raising. Beyond business mentor relationships, strategies and methods to connect tech startups to a pipeline of talent within the tech ecosystem will support diverse talent development and startup growth. Coded By Kids was awarded $115,000 for this work.
- Tech Industry Partnership Management — The company that was awarded funding for this focus area will manage the Philadelphia Tech Industry Partnership, which since launching in 2018, has convened a network of more than 75 companies, consisting of a range of tech and tech-enabled companies of all sizes, to join together as an active network. They will manage this partnership by facilitating convenings of tech startups and tech employers of all sizes to identify sector and talent needs; cultivating a culture of inclusivity, with a focus on specifically creating pathways to help diversify the current workforce; and building out the network of employer partners committed to providing internships, on the job training, unsubsidized employment, and targeted mentoring. Technically Media was awarded $75,000 to manage the partnership.
The remaining $10,000 will help further the PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative by supporting additional paid internships via the talent pipeline awardees (Campus Philly, Coded by Kids, and Venture for America) with the Philadelphia Tech Industry Partnership member businesses.
Technically Media will also serve as a resource and platform to communicate and elevate the work of all four organizations awarded funding through the PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative, focusing on ensuring that residents and the business community know that Philadelphia is a place to attract and hire quality, diverse talent in tech and tech-enabled industries.
Positioning Philadelphia as a diverse tech hub is one of several ongoing initiatives—outlined in the City’s Respond, Restart, Recharge, Reimagine plan—that aim to drive an inclusive, equitable recovery and ensure the city and region’s long-term economic competitiveness as we rebound from the devastating economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative was born out of the North Star conference convened by the City and partners, including Black & Brown Founders, in 2018 as well as the Philadelphia Tech Industry Partnership. The City received a total of seven proposals in response to the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for this initiative issued in August 2020.