I just completed my first month as Director of the Techstars Foundation. WOW! I am excited to be here.
Diversity in the tech industry is something we are all reading about, talking about and a place we want to see change. Rather than sit on the sidelines, Techstars has developed resources for founders to use when creating and growing their companies and announced a Diversity Commitment in conjunction with the White House last year.
Another way we have committed to moving the needle on real change is through the creation of the Techstars Foundation. The Techstars Foundation was founded in 2015 and is committed to improving diversity in tech entrepreneurship. We do this by investing in organizations with grant money and leveraging the Techstars network to empower these organizations to accelerate their mission forward.
I have followed the work of the Techstars Foundation since its inception. When Techstars established the foundation last year, I always thought to myself, “That sounds interesting, and I would love to find a way to help.”
A few months after its creation, I got connected to Ali Berman, interim Director of the Foundation. Over lunches, coffees and exchanged emails, we brainstormed ideas on how to raise more money for the Foundation and how to make impactful grants to interested organizations.
I always walked away from my conversations with Ali with that ‘head spinning’ feeling of excitement, enthusiasm and wanting to help more.
My career to-date has been as a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations. I have always had a strong mission and interest in connecting individuals to their areas of philanthropic passion. When I think about the words “connecting” and “passion”, they are almost synonymous with the power behind the Techstars network. The Techstars Foundation is built upon that very premise.
You might be wondering – What does the Techstars Foundation support? What do we not support? How can my organization apply for funding? How can I get involved?
What does Techstars Foundation support? – We support non-for-profit and for-profit organizations that are impacting diversity in tech entrepreneurship. How do we support them? In two ways.
- First, we provide grant money to that organization to help with a specific project or general operating needs.
- Second – and more powerful than the money from our vantage point – we actively wrap the Techstars network around our funded organizations to help drive their mission forward. We are not funders who grant money and walk away. We grant money and actively engage around your organization’s challenges.
What does Techstars Foundation NOT support? – The Techstars Foundation is not designed to provide start up funding for individuals or companies. We do not provide grants to individuals either. Organizations that do not have 501c3 status or lack a fiscal sponsor are not eligible to apply.
I want to apply for funding. Where do I begin? – Awesome! We want to hear from you and understand how your organization is impacting diversity in tech entrepreneurship. We just rolled out a new process for interested organizations. Visit our website to review our grantmaking guidelines and our grantmaking process. If you are a fit, apply!
How can I get involved? – There are a number of ways to become involved:
- If you are in the Techstars network and want to help one of our funded organizations, ping me.
- If you are passionate about diversity in tech entrepreneurship, consider making a gift today. (The Foundation is 100% powered by personal donations. Your tax-deductible gifts is what enables us to run.)
- If you are a company and want to contribute, consider becoming a Pledge 1% company and listing Techstars Foundation as a beneficiary.
- If you have an awesome idea on what we should be doing, please drop me a line.
A special thank you to our generous donors who helped get this off of the ground. Without you, the Techstars Foundation would not exist. A big shout out to Google who just came on board as the Foundation’s first corporate partner. Thank you also to the Techstars Foundation’s Advisory Board, current grantees and certainly Ali Berman for helping me get up to speed. You have all guided the Foundation to a wonderful place thus far, and I am excited about where we will go.
I look forward to meeting many of you and working with you in the months and years to come!