Full disclosure: Technically Media, Technical.ly's parent company, is managing the Philadelphia Tech Industry Partnership within the PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative.
Mentorship is widely noted as one way to boost underrepresented entrepreneurs. So as part of the Department of Commerce's PHL: Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative, Philly nonprofit Coded by Kids is partnering with two orgs on their longstanding program to get young business talent connected to mentors. Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT) teamed up back in 2016 to pilot a mentorship program called Mentor Connect, which seeks to connect founders and leaders with more seasoned entrepreneurs who coach them through the pitfalls of starting and growing a business. Now, Coded by Kids is joining in, aiming to pair young, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) business talent with industry mentors to help them work through their startup ideas. The collab is part of Coded by Kids' OnE Philadelphia initiative, its inclusive talent pipeline project for kids and adults in the city, which received $115,000 from the commerce department in fall 2020 as part of the Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative. Mentor Connect will pair entrepreneurs with teams of three to five volunteer mentors who have expertise across a range of industries for support with leadership, sales and business development, marketing, operations, and investment and fundraising. The program will exist as it always has, but it will work with a goal of increasing access to mentorship for underrepresented founders, said Melanie Hidalgo-Britt, Coded by Kids' chief revenue officer. There are a lot of mentoring and coaching programs in the Philly region, Anthony Green, VP of science and technology at Ben Franklin, told Technical.ly in an email. But the organizations wanted something more dynamic and relevant to entrepreneurs that would also be more sustainable, he said. "The most exciting aspect of working with Coded by Kids is to provide the encouragement, resources and support for those ... who want to be entrepreneurs," Green said. "It’s not for everyone — it’s a very lonely place. But providing this program during the Coded by Kids programs may instill a sense of confidence to take that chance and motivate them to take that chance with the support that will give them the greatest chance for success." In a statement, Coded by Kids founder Sylvester Mobley said the vision of OnE Philadelphia "comes alive" through partnerships like these, and that he's grateful Ben Franklin and PACT recognized the need for these opportunities for underrepresented people in the tech and innovation space. "We look forward to working with them — and other organizations, corporations and individuals — to make meaningful change and realize a city we can all believe in where there’s no shortage of tech talent or equitable opportunities,” Mobley said. Founders who are interested in receiving mentorship or those who wish to offer mentorship can find more about the program at Mentor Connect's website. _ P.S. For its part of the Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative, Technical.ly is asking the leaders of local tech and tech-enabled companies to tell us about their internal work to increase racial equity. Learn more and take the survey by April 9.