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What the Tech Council of Delaware accomplished in its first year of existence

Org leadership cites community building, impactful programming and workforce funding for the region. What happens next, they say, is up to you.

Tech Council of Delaware members during the recent Tech Ecosystem Conference in October 2023. (Courtesy Tech Council of Delaware)

It’s been a year since the Tech Council of Delaware officially launched in March 2023.

In recognition of this milestone, the organization will turn its March 28 Tech Thursdays happy hour and networking event into an anniversary celebration that looks back on and celebrates its accomplishments so far.

How it started

The number of successes is impressive. But first, a little history:

Although it had its official launch last March, the Tech Council of Delaware was born in 2020 as the Delaware IT Council. The Rodel Foundation launched it as an LLC with the intention that it would be a standalone organization after a three-year incubation period.

In 2022, longtime Wilmington workforce development consultant Zakiyyah Ali was selected as the organization’s inaugural executive director. That’s when it really began to take shape, with a trio of primary aims: Build and expand an inclusive tech talent pipeline in Delaware, create a strong tech ecosystem in Delaware and strengthen Delaware’s position and perception as a tech hub.

A woman speaking at a podium at a tech council event.

Zakkiyah Ali, executive director of the Tech Council of Delaware. ( Quinn)

“We have not strayed from the original three core goals that were created before I came along,” Ali said. “We went through a rebranding process, which gives us parity with other tech councils and associations across this country. But we’ve been very intentional about who we’re looking to serve based on the data: It’s Black residents, it’s our Hispanic and Latino residents, and it’s women.”

Now, as the council reaches its first official year and nears the end of the Rodel incubation period in June, it’s ready to transition to its post-startup phase.

Building, collaborating, programming

Over the last year, the council implemented six membership types, from individual memberships for current and aspiring technologists to organizational levels for government agencies, nonprofits, workforce providers and corporations. The range of fees, from $25 to $500 annually, ensures inclusivity, Ali says.

With a strong membership from launch, the council facilitated five tech ecosystem committees:

  1. Tech Leaders Roundtable for employers and senior tech leaders
  2. Tech Talent & Workforce Committee for education and workforce providers
  3. Tech Community Partners Collaborative for community-based organizations
  4. Tech Professionals Network for aspiring and current tech professionals
  5. Diverse Tech Entrepreneurs Committee for Black and Hispanic tech startup founders

The council co-led the Good Jobs Challenge application for Economic Development Administration (EDA) workforce funding in 2023. Though the application didn’t ultimately result in funding, the experience informed a more recent application: the council’s collaboration with Philadelphia Works to develop the Workforce Center for Precision Medicine, a talent development component of The Greater Philadelphia Region Precision Medicine Tech Hub. Selections for that funding will be announced this summer.

“When we’re thinking about the economic development of the Tech Hub, we’re thinking about new job creation and making sure that residents here in the Mid-Atlantic region have access and opportunity to connect to these good jobs in a growing industry,” Ali said.

The Tech Council of Delaware, an active member of the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA), has designed or co-designed other impactful programming in the state, including:

  • The Yes, We Tech! summer internship program, winner of a TECNA Innovation Award
  • The Certified Cybersecurity Professional Program
  • The Bloom Energy Advanced Manufacturing Program (B.E.A.M.)
  • Tech Thursdays, a happy hour and networking series
  • The Tech Data Deep Dive webinar series

The council additionally launched The First State Tech Partnership and the American Dream Academy & Learner Support Initiative. It was also selected to promote the Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship & Internship in Delaware.

Moreover, in October, the council convened many ecosystem members by hosting Delaware’s first-ever Tech Ecosystem Conference.

What’s next?

After all of that, what does Ali hope to accomplish next?

She is clear: The answer to that question is up to Delaware’s Tech community.

“We’re going to plan that out together,” Ali said. “For the first time, The Tech Council of Delaware, its members, its supporters, its partners and its funders get to decide what that next iteration looks like. It’s not up to me or my team to make that decision. We’re bringing everybody to the table, offering them the opportunity to weigh in and contribute.”

Register for the Tech Council of Delaware First Anniversary Tech Thursdays event

Disclosure: The Tech Council of Delaware is a Ecosystem Builder client. That relationship has no impact on this report.

Companies: Tech Council of Delaware

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