The Clarion Content had the pleasure of being invited to the announcement and presentation made last week at American Tobacco Campus. Code 2040 is a non-profit based in San Francisco that creates access, awareness, and opportunities for top Black and Latino/a engineering talent to insure their leadership in the innovation economy.
What were they doing in a basement in Durham? And what were Pierce Freelon, Cicely Mitchell, Marc Lee, Michelle Gonzalez-Green, Catherine Howard, and other Durham arts and tech luminaries doing there?
They are trying to give $40,000 cold hard cash, a workspace in the American Underground, mentorship, networking, backing and backbone to a local, minority entrepreneur with a tech start-up. APPLY HERE!
The details are unbelievably cool, but let’s discuss first the role the winner would play. As it was outlined to prospects, mavens, and industry insiders, it is three pronged.
Firstly, it is a year-long supported incubator for the early stage tech start-up the entrepreneur brings to the table. Said entrepreneur must be a local resident or a previous resident of the area who is willing to move back and live in Durham for a year. It doesn’t sound like the residency requirements will be too onerous, someone from Chapel Hill asked if they were eligible and the short answer was, “We think, yes.” The tech caveats didn’t seem too restrictive either, so long as the business is tangentially tech, it doesn’t have to be writing code or strictly doing web development.
The second level of the supported stage includes mentoring from Code2040, their partners who include national luminaries like the aforementioned Google, DropBox, and others. Code2040 will fly the winner and the other cities’ winners to San Francisco a couple of times over the course of the year for meetings and strategic planning. They noted that they have connections with many of the top venture capital companies in California.
Thirdly, the winning entrepreneur will become the Chief Diversity Officer in Residence at American Underground, and Code2040’s point person for outreach in Durham. With American Underground’s leadership, Adam Klein, saying things like “The American Underground is working to become the most diverse entrepreneurial environment in the country.” and “Diversity is at the core of building great businesses,” this is clearly a role that will be pivotal at AU. Klein said as much last week, declaring that AU would bring this person in on their weekly staff meetings, programming and event planning, and co-creating great events and education program.
Code2040 aims to raise the number of students they annual effect through their outreach and good works from 50 to 5000 and it sounds like Durham and one lucky Durhamanian are set to be at the center of this effort.