Baltimore daily roundup: A gamer-turned-esports advocate; join Builders from afar; Backpack Healthcare’s $14M Series A

Plus the Maryland Makerspace Initiative Program's upcoming deadline.

Sameer Rao facilitates a panel at's 2023 Builders Conference. (Alanah Nichole Davis/

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The Morgan State alum transforming education through esports

Tarrin Morgan II, a Black gaming advocate, shares his dedication to gaming as a STEAM and youth development vehicle. From organizing childhood tournaments to leading is alma mater’s esports program, he promotes diversity and creates opportunities for young people through video games. His efforts reflect a departure from his childhood in the perception toward gaming as a learning tool.

➡️ Learn more about Morgan’s esports work in Baltimore.

Join us at Builders, in person or on Slack

Thursday is the Builders Conference, a daylong gathering focused on building better ecosystems, companies and careers. We’re expecting people from our five main markets and 15 other states, plus some other countries, too.

Tickets support our journalism, and we’re excited to see hundreds of you there. But the thousands of you who can’t make it in person can also join the conversation — on our open community Slack. We’ll be posting in the #general channel, with a thread for each of the dozen-plus sessions, and we welcome comments from everyone. Also stay tuned for our reported recaps publishing next week.

➡️ Join the Slack channel here, for Builders updates and more.

News Incubator: What else to know today

• Lead4Life has chosen Dope Nerds to oversee its soft skills training via virtual reality. This partnership aims to equip Lead4Life clients with essential employability skills, including interviewing techniques, conflict resolution, leadership, de-escalation methods and more. [Dope Nerds]

• Former RealLIST Startup Backpack Healthcare has successfully raised $14 million in Series A funding. The company aims to transform pediatric mental health care nationwide through its app and teletherapy services. [Backpack Healthcare]

• The State of Maryland is conducting a comprehensive Disparity Study led by MGT Consulting Group to investigate racial and gender business discrimination in both public and private sectors. The study aims to determine the availability and use of minority- and women-owned firms as contractors and subcontractors in Maryland. [State of Maryland]

• The PLACE Builders Fellowship is a three-month intensive program designed to empower individuals committed to supporting and empowering entrepreneurs in their local communities. Developed in honor of Pava LaPere, the late cofounder of EcoMap Technologies, the fellowship aims to cultivate more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems. Learn more about the inaugural fellows and their impactful work. [Forward Cities]

• The Maryland Makerspace Initiative Program supports the expansion and development of makerspaces across Maryland by offering financial and technical assistance to eligible entities. Administered by TEDCO (which, in full transparency, is a client), the program awards grants of up to $100,000 to local governments, nonprofits and others for makerspaces’ establishment, expansion or operational costs. The application deadline is May 15. [TEDCO]

🗓️ On the Calendar

• May 15: Sensing Systems: Foundations of Relational Change [Details here]

• May 22: Spark Coworking and the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce celebrate the launch of their new partnership. [Details here]

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