The City of Philadelphia will award $500,000 to groups seeking to diversify the local tech workforce, supporting mentorships, internships, and other initiatives.
The funds are aimed at equipping Black and brown Philadelphians with tech skills that employers are increasingly seeking. City officials said they want to make Philadelphia one of the top and most diverse tech hubs in the nation.
Before the pandemic, the Philadelphia region’s tech workforce was largely white, non-Hispanic, and male, according to an April report from the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. Whites made up 64.1% of computer and math jobs in the region in 2018, compared to 19.6% who were Asian, 7.3% who were Black, and 6.6% who were Hispanic, the report said, citing Census estimates. That racial makeup in the local tech workforce closely resembled national estimates.
The city has awarded three organizations $100,000 each to work on retaining Black and brown residents who are in college, and connect them to tech jobs. The groups -- nonprofits Campus Philly, Coded By Kids, and Venture for America -- are tasked with placing students in paid internships and growing the number of private sector firms that offer tech internships.
Coded By Kids received another $115,000 to mentor startup founders through its OnE Philadelphia initiative, which aims to nurture tech talent among communities of color from high school to college students and adults. In receiving the grant, the tech nonprofit will mentor founders in areas including leadership, sales and marketing, and investment and capital raising, the city said in a press release.
Technically Media will receive $75,000 to manage the Philadelphia Tech Industry Partnership, a network of more than 75 companies that launched in 2018. The media company, which owns the tech news site Technical.ly Philly, will convene tech companies to identify sector and talent needs.
The remaining $10,000 will support paid internships, according to the city.
In a statement, Mayor Jim Kenney said he witnessed the limited diversity of the tech sector when attending the South by Southwest media conference in 2017.
“Philadelphia has all the ingredients to become a national leader in fostering a diverse, innovative tech sector — with a specific focus on ensuring more Black and brown Philadelphians are trained with the skills they need to succeed in one of the fastest growing and most lucrative industries,” he said.
The Philadelphia Inquirer is one of more than 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push toward economic justice. See all of our reporting at brokeinphilly.org.