Diversity & Inclusion
DEI / Funding / STEM / Technology

Microsoft invests $300K in B-360, Baltimore’s dirtbike STEM program

The org is one of 50 Black-led orgs around the country to receive grant funding from the tech giant.

B-360 students with Chino Braxton (bottom row, 3rd from left), a professional dirt bike rider from Baltimore. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

A Baltimore org that harnesses dirtbike culture to introduce youth to STEM careers is among the recipients of funding from Microsoft.

B-360 Baltimore is receiving a $300,000 grant over three years, as well as access to leadership development opportunities and software services. Announced in December, it’s one of 50 awards to Black-led orgs across the country to receive funding from the iconic tech company as part of a $15 million initiative focused on job training and digital access. Microsoft committed the funding in June amid protests after Minneapolis’ George Floyd was killed by police.

Brittany Young, who is an engineer, founded B-360 in 2016 to spread STEM and safety programming in the community that’s centered on the workings of dirtbikes, which are a frequent sight on the streets of West Baltimore, where she grew up.

“This funding is a much-needed boost at the end of a year that has been challenging for a lot of organizations like ours, especially ones that have significant overhead with equipment and logistical costs,” Young said. “We’ll be using the funds to support our free programming by purchasing more technology equipment, helmets, dirt bike parts and safety gear. Funds will also be used to create more jobs for young adults that we hire and train as instructors.”

Working with Microsoft can provide a way to build tech capacity, including adding edtech components of the org’s direct service model, Young said.

In early 2021, the org will be kicking off a fundraising campaign to secure an HQ, purchase a van to transport dirtbikes and equipment.

It’s the latest instance where the national lens has turned to Young, who has also taken part in social entrepreneurship fellowships with Red Bull Amaphiko, Echoing Green and Johns Hopkins Social Innovation Lab. In this case, she hopes Microsoft’s backing of a local company can help Baltimore — students and organizations both. A founding member of the Baltimore Legacy Builders Collective, she’s among a group of Black leaders serving the city looking to transform funding norms as well as perceptions of youth.

“We’ve been shouting from the rooftops for years that Baltimore is a city full of incredible talent and promise. We hope this investment is a sign to the rest of the country, and more importantly, other corporate partners to invest in Black-led enterprises,” Young said. “We’re proud ambassadors of this city and also hope this challenges more institutions to support Black-led organizations locally as well.”

Companies: B-360 / Microsoft
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