Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Delaware News Roundup: Meet Network Connect, the Wilmington women-led youth workforce development org

Plus, a rundown of big Delaware tech news from the week, upcoming events and recent Power Moves.

Network Connect's founders.

(Courtesy photo)

Correction: Mention of a Newark, New Jersey program has been cut. (3/25/22, 1:45 p.m.)

Editor’s note: This story first appeared as a newsletter alongside a roundup of Technical.ly’s best Delaware reporting from the week, job openings and more. Subscribe here to get updates on Delaware tech, business and innovation news in your inbox on Thursdays.


We’ve been talking about Web3 this month, but we can’t forget that it’s also Women’s History Month. In its honor, this week we’re highlighting a Wilmington women-led organization called Network Connect.

Founded by Erin Hutt and Cierra Hall-Hipkins in 2019, the nonprofit primarily serves youth in high needs areas of Delaware and the region. One of their programs, Future Culture Creators, is a workforce development program that takes teens identified as disengaged in the classroom and trains them over a year. That includes six months of trauma-informed skills building and six months of a paid internship at one of Network Connect’s community partner orgs. Successful students may go on to become mentors themselves, or become leaders in Network Connect’s other programs, including Community Well-being Ambassadors, Teen Co-Learning Spaces and Reverse the ACES.

The current Future Culture Creators this reporter talked to praised the experience.

“My attitude is way better,” Damoni Wilson told Technical.ly. In addition to learning workforce basics, she said, they learn mental health self care with breathing and focus exercises.

“It taught me a lot, like how to be yourself around new people,” participant Camille Brock said. “How to build resumes, how to go out in a new world.”

The organization has seen quite a bit of growth in it’s short existence, in part because there’s been an enhanced need for support in vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hall-Hipkins expects to see that growth continue.

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“We have a large strategic plan this year,” she said. “In the next couple of months, we will announce our expansion into Kent County and Sussex Country, as well as Chester [Pennsylvania] and Baltimore. We are trying to really focus in on Wilmington, but understanding the surrounding areas helps us to attack some of the issues we deal with.”

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Also this week, I explored tech migration patterns, Delaware’s broadband expansion history and took a closer look at some of the graduate degree tuition benefits offered by various tech companies.

What else happened this week in Delaware?

HX Innovations is launching a sports science station within the Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington on March 29. The biomechanics startup will provide its Power Performance and Footwear Endurance assessments to teams and clubs who train or compete within the Chase Fieldhouse.

Delaware State University’s The Approaching Storm Marching Band made its Madison Square Garden Debut on March 22, performing at halftime during the NBA game between the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks.

Check out the Delaware high school entrepreneurs who won the EntreX Venture Showcase earlier this month at the University of Delaware.

This week, Tech Impact, which recently launched a permanent base in Wilmington, is celebrating its 1,000th graduate.

The Wilmington Riverfront’s Juice Joint, owned by Lanice Wilson and Renee Sellers, got a special Women’s History Month visit by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester and US Small Business Administration Delaware Director Michelle Harris on March 23, highlighting its mission of community support and mentoring up-and-coming Black entrepreneurs.

MIT graduate Max Williamson chose to return to Delaware to work in public policy rather than take his sought-after computer science degree to Silicon Valley. Read the story in MIT News.

Upcoming Delaware events

On March 25 at 4 p.m., the Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) will host the opening of “Downtown Reimagined,” a new sidewalk photography exhibit featuring works by local photographers Joe de Tufo of Moonloop Photography, Shakira Hunt of Sharika Hunt Creative and Andre Wright Jr. of The Original Coloure Collective. The artwork is installed at 417 N Market St. Following the unveiling, guests are invited to join the artists for a reception at The Knight’s Bar across the street at The Queen.

BPG also invites high school students to apply for its summer 2022 BPG University internship program. Launched last year, BPG U is the group’s first internship program designed explicitly for teens to learn all aspects of real estate development prior to finishing high school. The summer 2022 session will begin June 13 and run through July 1. Students must be a rising junior or senior at a Delaware high school to be eligible to apply. Apps are due April 15.

Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast 2022 — which, as always, is not just for Philadelphians — returns this May. Technical.ly’s Developers Conference, our annual “tasting menu” of trending technical topics and real-world deployments, will get a hybrid twist on May 10. Then join entrepreneurs, HR pros and other company culture and tech ecosystem leaders to build better companies at Introduced on May 12.

Did you hear? The festivals are coming back in full force this year, including the Ladybug Festival (May 20), the Flower Market (May 5 to 7) and St. Anthony’s Italian Festival (June 6 to 19). The Delaware State Fair also announced its concert lineup for festival week (July 21 to 30), which includes Nelly, Halestorm, Frank Reyes and Hank Williams, Jr.

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