This editorial article is a part of Racial Equity in Tech Month 2022 of Technical.ly's editorial calendar. This month’s theme is underwritten by Spotify. This story was independently reported and not reviewed by Spotify before publication.
Juneteenth officially became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021. For some, it’s a very real reality that Juneteenth has only been celebrated or recognized in their households in the last two years.
It took about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation — or two months after the Confederacy surrendered — for news to come to Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, on the boots of Union soldiers, that the enslavement of Black people had legally ended.
Not too long after, Juneteenth was born. But no matter how you celebrated the recently federally recognized holiday on Sunday, there’s no reason to limit that support to one day or month a year.
Here’s a quick guide of Black tech sector-connected organizations and businesses to support all year. Each makes an impact in Baltimore every day, with the goal of changing historic disparities in the predominantly Black city.
This entity aims to raise Baltimorean social impact leaders to the same level as the Lebrons and MJs of the world. The athleisure brand affiliate of the digital services agency Fearless is donating 10% of profits to social impact organizations around the country.
Pass IT On
Pass IT On seeks to diversify the IT field and eliminate the technology skills gap that impacts disadvantaged communities in Baltimore. The nonprofit’s STEM and workforce development training programs bridge the divide that, according to a DEI report by Baltimore Tracks, allows local tech workers to be 67% white, 14% Asian and 7% Black. That’s a start contrast to the city as a whole, according to U.S. Census figures that put the city at about 28% white, 2.5% Asian and 63% Black.
The work they do could create a tech economy that uplifts the Black Butterfly as much as the White L.
This nonprofit harnesses the passion for dirtbikes, which permeates the city, to teach engineering skills. Founder Brittany Young and the organization earned a dedication of a citywide day for the work it’s doing as both a STEM program and a diversion program for youth illegally riding dirtbikes. Support here could help the organization’s goal of creating a B-360 campus, the nation’s first permanent urban dirt bike park and education site.
Fight Blight Bmore
Baltimore has around 15,600 vacant properties, creating a crisis of vacancy throughout the city. This organization is doing whatever it takes to identify and notify the proper parties so these properties can be renovated, demolished or refurbished. The data gathered by this org is used to tell the story of divestment and marginalization of communities — and, with that data, seek restitution.
This organization works to give legacy residents in Baltimore ownership in their neighborhoods. Bree Jones is trying to address the city’s historic patterns of redlining and divestment one block at a time. Like Nipsey Hussle did in Los Angeles, she’s buying back the block and then giving it back to its long-time residents. She’s already started rebuilding and creating homeownership opportunities in communities in Harlem Park, which were broken up by the highway to nowhere and still experience displacement and blight.
This Black-led business helps Baltimore residents, especially Black ones, get financially ready for homeownership using a mobile-friendly site in partnership with Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore. In the United States, 44% of Black families own homes, as opposed to 73% of white families, according to a census-informed 2019 report by real estate brokerage Redfin that drew from U.S. Census data; This organization’s mission is to bring some parity to those numbers and address a root issue in the lack of socioeconomic mobility and wealth creation in the Black community.
During the pandemic, having access to the internet became a necessity for more people. Before the pandemic, 96,000 Baltimorean households, or 40% of the city’s residents, lived without wireline internet connectivity. Large internet providers like Comcast boasted record profits at the peak of the pandemic. RowdyOrb.it and founder Jonathan Moore want to turn that dynamic on its head. Moore wants to provide free community-owned and -operated internet, where the community profits from selling its own data and broadband infrastructure.
The Be. Org
This org is aware of the socially imposed limitations of Black youth and is dedicated to giving youth the skills to go beyond a dream. It further aims to help these young people achieve remarkable excellence through STEM programs and social-emotional learning.
This organization is the definition of last but not least. CLLCTIVLY is building an ecosystem of grants and resources to nourish Black-led organizations that want to improve Baltimore. It has a directory of 137 Black-led social enterprises and acts as a one-stop-shop for everything this list has to offer and more.Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
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