AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, days after President Joe Biden declared Texas a state of emergency, OHUB, 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund, HR&A Advisors, Capital Factory, The City of Austin, Huston-Tillotson University, NexGenT and DivInc announce a collaboration to launch an “OHUB x Austin Equity District” as an intentional plan to accelerate racial equity in the city’s thriving technology hub to spur local economic recovery.
An Equity District is an institutional ecosystem-development framework for operating a diverse, equitable and inclusive technology, startup and venture community that intentionally ensures socially disadvantaged communities in a city (particularly Black, Latinx and Indigenous) are equitably included at all levels in the future of work, fourth industrial revolution and beyond—as a path to shared prosperity and multi-generational wealth creation with no reliance on pre-existing multi-generational wealth.
The “Equity District” concept leverages OHUB’s 8 year operating history in Atlanta and Kansas City, was codified in OHUB’s work with The Federal Reserve Bank on “Building Inclusive Entrepreneurship Ecosystems in Communities of Color” and signaled last summer in a playbook of national recommendations to big tech, startup communities and policymakers from The Brookings Institution on “Building Racial Equity in Tech Ecosystems To Spur Local Recovery.”
Silicon Valley’s Representative in The United States Congress, The Honorable Ro Khanna (D-17th)—who has launched an investigation into the Texas power failures—worked throughout the summer of 2020 with Opportunity Hub (OHUB) Executive Chairman and CEO, Rodney Sampson, to model out a national model for expansion that involved the power and possibility of public private partnerships, industry investment and private equity.
Anchored on equitable place-making and mobility for the fourth industrial revolution, Austin’s Equity District will include:
- Space at Capital Factory
- An online platform to foster networking, mentorship and communication;
- A monthly event series featuring high growth Black founders, active investors, technologists and hiring partners;
- Early exposure and hiring programs like OHUB.SXSW, a 6 year old program that has been sponsoring college students studying engineering, business, finance, marketing and beyond to their first or next paid internships or full time role;
- Rapid, in-demand re-skilling certificates in cybersecurity, full stack software development and technical sales bootcamps taught by NexGenT, The Fortress and Victory Lap in collaboration with Huston Tillotson University;
- Sacrificial commitments from Austin based employers to substantially increase their commitment to hire interns, entry-level and experienced talent from the OHUB ecosystem and pay the associated placement fees;
- Entrepreneurship support programming with Trajectory Series and DivInc; and
- An investment structure between 100 Black Angels and Allies Fund and Capital Factory to increase early stage investment in Black founders specifically
Long term, the Equity District will be housed in its own crowdfunded edifice dedicated to creating sustained density for learning, working, building and living. HR&A Advisors has been tapped to map out and operationalize this strategy.
“Developments that create density and connection have been important in developing America’s places for innovation. From the first research and development parks like the Raleigh Durham Research Triangle and innovation districts TechSquare in Atlanta, creating density and connection has been key to driving innovation in the American economy. OHUB’s Equity District model for operationalizing diversity, equity and inclusion into these initiatives is key to creating opportunities to close the economic mobility and wealth gap in American cities. The Knowledge Economy Practice of HR&A Advisors is excited to join forces with OHUB in Austin and beyond to integrate this model into the future of place and space,” says Bob Geolas, Partner, HR&A Advisors.
“OHUB Equity Districts aren’t charity. They are an institutional model for creating hyperlocal density of Black talent, entrepreneurs and investors in a city through a crowdsourced playbook for early exposure, rapid reskilling, hiring, high-growth company-building, investment and market access,” says Rodney Sampson, Executive Chairman & CEO, OHUB; General Partner, 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund: Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University.
“As Droves of tech talent from Silicon Valley and beyond continue to head to Austin, Texas; it is important to take note of the 2017 Northwestern University and University of Toronto study that finds that innovation intensity increases economic segregation and poverty in cities. According to McKinsey, Automation will eliminate 4.5 million jobs amongst Black Americans in the next decade,” says Sampson.
Sampson believes its Equity District model is an answer.
Starting this April, the Equity District will be housed in Austin’s Capital Factory. Launch funding must be secured to hire a team and begin programming. Josh Baer will take the lead with OHUB’s point person in Austin to connect with decision makers at tech companies.
“I am proud to join forces with OHUB to launch Equity Districts across Texas, starting in Austin. After watching OHUB bring hundreds of underrepresented students to Capital Factory every year for SXSW, it’s exciting to have them be an active part of our community year-round. Capital Factory will be making a strategic investment in 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund and work closely with the OHUB team to bring other founding partners into the initiative. I’ve seen Rodney’s work in Atlanta and nationally and am excited for the future together,” says Joshua Baer, Founder & CEO, Capital Factory.
Founding partners of the Equity District will be asked to:
- Commit $100,000 over two years for starting operations and capacity building; and
- Hire at least 10 full time roles exclusively via OHUB’s talent placement arm;
- Ensure that it’s senior leadership is certified in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Solutions
OHUB will be repurposing a portion of the talent placement fees from anchor companies in Austin to fund the Equity District’s year round programming.
Mayor Steve Adler has signed on to this initiative as Co-Chair with a specific ask of Austin technology companies, startups and VC’s to work together to attract 1,000 college students per year to the city via paid summer internships and new full-time roles.
“Fixing systemic racism is key to an inclusive future for all Austinites. I challenge our tech companies, startups and investors to collaborate on an Equity District to create a playbook for racial equity in their companies and in our community,” says The Honorable Steve Adler, Mayor, City of Austin.
Phase one of the initiative includes a push to expand OHUB’s annual OHUB.SXSW.
For six years, OHUB has partnered with over 100 tech companies—including Comcast NBCUniversal, Deloitte, Facebook, Netflix, AWS, Amazon, Tesla and Oracle—to include students in SXSW Interactive. To date, over 1,000 students from 400 of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, have been afforded the opportunity to experience all OHUB & SXSW has to offer—including the opportunity to connect and interview with leading technology companies, startups and venture funds that are bringing on interns and new hires.
In 2021, OHUB is working with Mayor Adler and a group of Co-Chairs like Hugh Forrest (SXSW), Joah Spearman (Localeur), Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette (Huston Tillotson University) and Seth Bender (Execusource) to include 1,000 students in SXSW Online which will include dedicated sessions with this year’s hiring partners and featured sessions featuring Brad Feld (Foundry, Techstars), Rodney Sampson (OHUB, 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund), Dominic Davis (Business Insider), Bridget Chisholm (BWC Capital, The Links, Incorporated), Davyeon Ross (Shottracker, RG/A Ventures), Vickie Gibbs (UNC Chapel Hill Kenan Flagler Entrepreneurship Center) and Bob Geolas (HR&A Advisors).
With a historical 90% placement rate, and with median internship and starting salaries of $20,000 and $90,000 respectively, OHUB's programming can create real and measurable economic output for the culture and beyond.
Their collective goal is simple. Get 1,000 companies—large and small—to sponsor, mentor and hire at least one student. Current partners include Oracle, SAP, Courant, Everlywell, ReFED, and Capbase.
“Huston-Tillotson University has been working with Opportunity Hub for six years. We were the original home for the program and housed the first cohort of students in our residence halls. The energy of the students combined with the knowledge and interaction of the participating hiring partners has brought transformation to our campus each and every year. We are more than excited to evolve our partnership with OHUB and its training partners to rapidly certify in-demand technical talent in Austin and beyond,” says Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President, Huston-Tillotson University.
“From the moment of NexGenT’s conceptualization, we have strived and created an educational program that is breaking down barriers of institutionalized inequality. Myself and my Co-Founder are Air Force veterans with a mission to close the growing tech skills gap by providing people an affordable education that can get anyone job-ready for a career in IT and cyber security. Working with strong partners like OHUB helps us reach key populations we seek to bring into this work. We are honored and excited to be founding partners in Austin’s Equity District and look forward to continuing to make a revolutionary impact in the tech ecosystem,” says Terry Kim, Founder & CEO, NexGenT.
Systemic inequities in America have created a history of wealth inequality, disproportionately exposed certain communities to the COVID-19 pandemic, and established conditions leading to racial violence and social unrest. To address these issues, communities of color—specifically, Black communities—will need broad-based economic support and policy reforms. One high-priority recommendation in solving the country’s racial wealth equity problem is developing inclusive local tech ecosystems, which can drive Black tech entrepreneurship and increase the Black tech workforce. By prioritizing inclusive tech ecosystems, Black households will be able to leverage the power of innovation and the increased global reliance on technology to create wealth and contribute to enhanced productivity and quality of life in the nation’s local economies. Achieving this vision will require new corporate governance, workforce development, innovation, community outreach, social impact, and investment decisions that prioritize entrepreneurship strategies that lead to not only economic recovery, but also to racial and economic justice.
The ultimate objective of inclusive tech ecosystems is to create racial equity.
“We’ve seen our work help transform the Austin Startup ecosystem over the past 5 years to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive. OHUB has been a great model for ecosystem development for nearly a decade and I consider Rodney amongst the pioneers of Blacks Startup leadership. We are excited to collaborate on this Equity District initiative working alongside the other critical ecosystem-support programs and partners. If we get this right, we can accelerate this transformation in Austin,” says Preston James, President, DivInc.
About Opportunity Hub
Opportunity Hub (OHUB), co-founded in 2013 in Atlanta, GA by Rodney and Shanterria Sampson as a follow up to the highly successful Kingonomics’ book release and large scale conferences, is the leading technology, startup, and venture ecosystem development platform created to ensure everyone, everywhere has a path to multi-generational wealth creation with no reliance on pre-existing multi-generational wealth. Today, OHUB is the parent holding company of a suite of businesses committed to increasing racial equity in the fourth industrial revolution; including a not-for-profit foundation and an ecosystem enablement investment fund, 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund.
About 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund
The mission of 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund is to align smart, affluent, innovative and skilled Black and ally capital to build a scalable and sustainable Black technology, startup entrepreneurship and venture ecosystem that powers a global Diasporic engine and platform to ensure that Black people everywhere are equitably represented at all levels in the startup ecosystem as a path definitive path to increasing equitable innovation density in cities across America and beyond.
About Capital Factory
Capital Factory’s mission is to be the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Texas, the number one startup state in the U.S. Thousands of entrepreneurs, programmers and designers gather day and night, in-person and online for meetups, classes and coworking. With boots on the ground in Austin, Dallas and Houston, we meet the best entrepreneurs in Texas and introduce them to their first investors, employees, mentors and customers. According to Pitchbook, Capital Factory has been the most active investor in Texas since 2010.
About HR&A Advisors
HR&A Advisors, Inc. (HR&A) is an industry-leading consulting firm providing services in real estate, economic development, and program design and implementation. For over 40 years, the firm has provided strategic advisory services for some of the most complex mixed-use, neighborhood, downtown, campus, and regional development projects across North America and abroad. HR&A has offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Atlanta, and Raleigh, and has provided services for real estate owners and investors, hospitals and universities, cultural institutions, community development organizations, and governments since 1976. To learn more about HR&A, visit www.hraadvisors.com.
About Huston-Tillotson University
HT nurtures a legacy of leadership and excellence in education, connecting knowledge, power, passion, and values. Huston-Tillotson University is affiliated with The United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). HT, in Austin, is a coeducational college of liberal arts and sciences, operating jointly under the auspices of the American Missionary Association of the United Church of Christ, and the Board of Education of The United Methodist Church. Huston-Tillotson College officially changed its name to Huston-Tillotson University on February 28, 2005. Huston-Tillotson College was formed by the merger of Samuel Huston College and Tillotson College, which was effective on October 24, 1952. Huston-Tillotson College remained primarily a black college after the merger, although there were no restrictions as to race. Huston-Tillotson University awards undergraduates, four year degrees in business, education, the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, science and technology. A multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-faith institution, the University welcomes students of all ages, races, and religions.
NexGenT is on a mission to help 1 million people break into tech jobs by 2030. We are doing this by providing people with a hands-on education that gets them job-ready for a career in IT and cyber security, without the traditional outrageous debt of higher education. With our unique model of learning, we are able to help people dramatically change their life and achieve success like never before. To learn more about NexGenT and the impact we are making, visit www.nexgent.com.
DivInc transforms the existing entrepreneur tech ecosystem into a more authentically inclusive environment. Through our efforts, we inspire, empower and enable underrepresented founders to build successful high growth businesses. We aim to unleash the untapped and hidden innovative talent within our communities and generate an entrepreneur mindset shift for generations to come. We believe diversity and inclusion drive innovation. Through our programming, we help build a more authentically inclusive innovation ecosystem. Since 2016, we’ve provided 64 founders and 49 tech and tech enabled companies with critical strategies to succeed and grow their startups.