DiverseForce CEO Sulaiman Rahman has made developing leaders from underrepresented backgrounds his life’s work. With the P4 (Public Private and Philanthropic Partnership) Hub for Advancing Racial Equity and Excellence coworking and event space, he hopes to take that work even further.
The new space launches this November and with the help of partnerships with orgs that “share our mission to advance leaders in our community,” Rahman told Technical.ly.
Located in Germantown near the SEPTA Wayne Junction train station, the P4 hub is just minutes away from Center City and easily accessible via public transit. Rahman and his colleagues are tentatively planning to open the hub on Nov. 15, and he said he already has support from local entrepreneurs such as Little Giant Creative founder Tayyib Smith and REC Philly cofounder Will Toms.
“Tayyib called me first thing this morning to make a referral,” Rahman said on Monday, following Smith’s attendance of P4’s preview event this past weekend.
Outside of Smith’s Pipeline Philly and the forthcoming IF Labs and REC Philly’s 10,000-square-foot workspace for creative professionals, there are not many workspaces in Philadelphia designed with Black and brown professionals in mind. That’s not lost on Rahman, who is hopeful that professionals of color will have more spaces like P4 where they can build community.
For Rahman, P4 will affirm core values of talent solution firm DiverseForce’s CEO training — that is, community, education and opportunities. It aims to serve as a community of professionals across different sectors, but with similar goals, through training offered directly in the space.
“Education means partnering with higher education institutions and credentialing organizations to make sure folks are getting the credentials and skill sets” they need to thrive, he said. That might include “digital transformation” skills, leadership training or financial literacy education.
The 4,200-square-foot hub includes an event space outfitted with audio and visual resources and tools like projectors for meetings, allowing P4 to offer professionals working in the space the opportunity to also host meetings there. Companies can sponsor talent who want to work in the hub, while others can apply for membership.
The opening of P4 marks the culmination of its first phase. For what Rahman considered its upcoming second phase, the hub will feature a content creation space that can support the development of video content and recording podcasts. Classrooms will be available for hands-on development and training sessions, and a kitchen will also be available for use.
One of the notable aspects of the hub is that it will have satellite offices for companies like Lendistry, a California-based fintech CDFI that was recently approved to administer $150 million in grants to live music events in that state. And San Diego-based lender Founders First Capital Partners, which works with underrepresented founders, will have an office there, too. Founders First also has plans to bring its accelerator to Philadelphia, Rahman said.
The founder is also excited about another less expected entity that has confirmed space in the hub — the NFL Alumni Performance Lab. Led by Dr. Chuck Morris, the lab will bring the technology and resources to assess health more commonly used for the top 1% of athletes and apply those services to professionals working in the hub. Rahman said he wants to normalize managing health among professionals who may be laser-focused on their work.
P4 is different from other workspaces in the city. But with time, Rahman hopes more like it emerge.
Michael Butler 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 Lenfest Institute for Journalism.