A Recap of HBCU@SXSW 2017

Jun 5, 2017 | Diversity, HBCU@SXSW

In preparation of HBCU@SXSW 2018, we want to do a quick recap of our 2017 installation, which, with 100 students sponsored, had a great turnout. It has definitely laid the foundation for our work in making tech more accessible for minorities.

Let’s first start by sharing the impetus for this program. In case you haven’t heard, the tech world is not an oasis for diversity. Yes, a mecca for innovative ideas it is, yet when it comes to diversity, tech has some work to do.

A few stats:

Do the math, and it’s clear that the numbers just don’t add up. Or in basic HTML, just don’t add up .

How do we solve the problem? By exposing Generation Next and Generation Now to the tech opportunities that exist and support their training. In this way—by taking a real-world approach—we will increase these numbers. The program is led by tech entrepreneur Rodney Sampson, who founded Opportunity Hub and is the Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Atlanta startup hub TechSquare Labs.

Starting in 2016, Opportunity Ecosystem and Huddle Ventures partnered with the media, music and interactive festival SXSW in Austin, Texas to expose African American students to the possibilities that exist in the world of technology.

Our inaugural year included 50 students, and last year, out of 456 applications, we selected 100 students for the HBCU@SXSW program for a weekend of networking, mentorship, and exposure within one of the biggest tech-centric events in the nation.

The program accepted underrepresented students from major universities across the nation, with the majority of attendees from historically-black colleges (HBCUs).  We accepted students from HBCUs large and small, well-known and not so well-known. From the Atlanta-University Center and Howard to Medgar Evers College and Allen University, we worked with students across the country who want to pursue careers in tech, whether pursuing a tech or non-tech major, within technical and non-technical roles.

And companies took notice. We have over 30 companies that support the program, with big names that include Snapchat, Google, Microsoft, Booz Allen Hamilton, Delta Airlines, Mailchimp, PwC, and more.

Have you ever met an owner of a billion-dollar company?

Our students were afforded the opportunity during a presentation by Janice Bryant Howroyd, the Founder and CEO of Act-1, a global leader in temp staffing, consulting and HR services. Participants of HBCU@SXSW were able to meet leading entrepreneurs and envision themselves one day in their shoes. Janice Bryant Howroyd, by the way, has a net worth of $420 million.

The trending hashtag? #DiversitySXSW.

At a cost of $3,000 per student, participants pay nothing with program fees and housing covered through sponsors.

We took 50 students to Austin our first year (2016), 100 our second (2017). This year we are aiming for 500 students for HBCU@SXSW 2018, led by Corey Smith, Head of Early Exposure at Opportunity Ecosystem. The application will be rigorous, but the opportunity well worth it.

Are you a student interested in a career in tech, in either a technical or non-technical role? Apply for HBCU@SXSW 2018 today.

Are you interested in partnering and sponsoring students for this amazing opportunity? Visit our sponsor page.

If you have any specific questions, please send them to team@opportunityecosystem.co.