Opportunity Ecosystem Promotes Program on College Campuses Throughout the Country

Opportunity Ecosystem Promotes Program on College Campuses Throughout the Country

Imagine a world where an underrepresented student has the opportunity to make $100,000 per year just out of college. A world where this student is well-versed in the ins and outs of a highly technical profession. A world where financial literacy and investing is the norm. A world where the creation of a new generation of wealth, yes, wealth, takes root. Can you dream a world?

Why dream—the reality has already begun, and Opportunity Ecosystem (OE) is leading the way in making this possibility a reality for more students.

Opportunity Ecosystem is working to expand its footprint across the United States by opening up and promoting its program on more college campuses. Opportunity Ecosystem will be able to continue to build on the four-part approach of the program: early exposure, education and training, ecosystem building, and capital formation.

“It’s here to give kids in these different schools basically the opportunity to connect with mentors who are people that are part of Opportunity Ecosystem in general. It would also give them access to all opportunities and resources that come through the ecosystem. When we get opportunities from partnering companies such as Microsoft, Pandora and Delta for example, we reach out to students within the ecosystem, who has access to these opportunities before we send them out to the entire database,” says Corey Smith, Head of Early Exposure at Opportunity Ecosystem.

The four-pronged approach is as follows:

Early exposure: With programs such as Startup High, CODESTART, HBCU@SXSW, Startup Summer, and OHUB@HBCU, Opportunity Ecosystem aims to build the next generation of entrepreneurs, leaders, investors, and even employees. Early exposure is key, as the organization intones on its website. HBCU@SXSW, now in its third year, is yet another way to put students before opportunities and in an environment that they otherwise might not have access to. HBCU@SXSW 2018 will be accepting applications in June.

Education and Training: Code Start is one program through Opportunity Ecosystem developed in partnership with Opportunity Hub, The Iron Yard, and TechSquare Labs. Code Start is a year-long program that immerses participants full-time to prepare for a career in technology as a software engineer or technical cofounder. Opportunity Ecosystem also offers mentorship, with more than 50 vetted mentors. Entrepreneurs are paid with more experienced professionals through monthly mentor meetups, meetings during office hours, one-on-one meetings, and live-stream discussions with influences and decision-makers in technology.

Ecosystem Building: Opportunity Ecosystem has existed on three different campuses, currently being housed at TechSquare Labs as a result of its 2015 merger. It was previously housed at the Giant Lofts from 2013-2015 and the Herman J. Russell Building from 2014-2015. Opportunity Ecosystem currently plans to expand its programming on college campuses and through high school programming as well.

Capital Formation: One of the first Opportunity Ecosystem programs for promoting capital formation is the Opportunity Hub and Atlanta University College Certificate in Investing In Startups and Early Stage Companies (Angel Investing). Topics covered include how to start investing as an angel investor, how to make informed decisions in angel investing in startups or early-stage companies, and the basics of financial leadership. The course is taught by experienced angel investors and venture capitalists.

By executing these four points across college campuses in the country, as it has done in Atlanta, Opportunity Ecosystem will continue to promote a national and global entrepreneurial ecosystem and provide access for underrepresented communities.

“We’re taking all four of these different initiatives and putting them on campuses to create a pipeline between campuses across the country, HBCUs and campuses with black and brown students, giving more resources and more opportunities to them,” says Matt Poole, Student Ambassador of OE.  “We put the network in one place so that what happens for them is that once they’re in the organization, their trajectory from freshmen to leaving college is drastically impacted for the better because we’ve given them pipelines to future careers, and the resources to ultimately change their lives and lay the groundwork at an early age for wealth formation. This program is a big deal.”

If you’re interested in partnering with Opportunity Ecosystem to promote the next generation of entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders, contact the team at team@opportunityecosystem.co.









New Diversity Initiative, the YesWeCode Fund, Launches at HBCU@SXSW 2017

New Diversity Initiative, the YesWeCode Fund, Launches at HBCU@SXSW 2017

On the second day of HBCU@SXSW 2017, March 12th, the YesWeCode initiative launched before student leaders and investors. The event launch was fitting in that it also aimed to promote diversity in tech, but this time, not just with race but with economic diversity as well.

Ultimately, the YesWeCode initiative is a way to lift people out of poverty and build generational wealth, one middle class person and family at a time. Access to education, and in this case access specifically to an education in coding will be the catalyst for change.

The program is a collaboration between Code Fellows, The Iron Yard, Operation HOPE, Opportunity Ecosystem, TechSquare Labs, Climb Credit, We Can Code IT, and #YesWeCode and brings together the collective goals of coding schools, civic and governmental organizations and employers to encourage applicants to say no to financial barriers and YES to social mobility.

Tech is a sector with a track record for employing a primarily white and Asian male workforce. So with a focus on women and minorities, this program is a real game changer. It will also add racial and gender diversity to a workforce sorely lacking in it.

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers. Over the course of the next five years, the Fund has the goal of awarding $100 million in scholarships to minority and women students, with $40 million as full-tuition awards. Code Fellow and We Can Code IT have included scholarships for their bootcamp courses.

The program has an unexpected origin. The YesWeCode program was started by Van Jones in collaboration with Prince, only one name necessary. Prince, with a penchant for being before his time, wanted to develop technologists of color to create a future where women and minorities were woven into the tapestry of tech.

Prince partied like it was 1999 in the 1980s and in 2014, along with Van Jones, foresaw the importance of nurturing the underserved tech talent of tomorrow. He wanted to help change something as both simple and complex as what it means for a black youth versus a white youth to wear a hoodie.

The goal of #YesWeCode is to “help 100,000 young women and men from underrepresented backgrounds to find success in the tech sector,” according to the program’s website. The talent will be homegrown to help to add to the local economies.

Learn more about #YesWeCode and the YesWeCode Fund here.