“So, uh, what’s been going on while I’ve been gone?” Thats what the crowd was asked by the nation’s 44th President of the United States as he prepared to engage in a discussion with young people that may one day lead our country.
Former US President Barack Obama delivered his first public remarks of his post-presidency at the University of Chicago. The former commander and chief sat with six young leaders in the location of his future presidential library. Obama plans to combat gerrymandering, money in politics and media polarization. However, he identified young people as his highest priority. “What is the most important thing I can do for my next job? … The most important single thing I can do is to help in any way I can prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and take their own crack at changing the world,” he said. Obama avoided criticizing President Trump and instead gave sound advice to young people from all over the country that attended the invitation-only event.
John-Paul Maxfield is the founder of startup, Waste Farmers, which sells dirt to pot farmers. The company began collecting food waste from schools and restaurants and turning it into compost. Waste Farmers started producing organic potting soil made from coconut husks and bio char, derived from dead trees killed by pine beetles. The company has 20 employees and is certified as a B Corp. “B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency” (B Corp).
Waste Farmers’ goal is to rapidly speed up the adoption of a new food system to feed humanity wherever they live, decrease agriculture’s environmental impact and combat climate change. According to a 2017 Forbes article, Maxfield describes Colorado as the Silicon Valley of cannabis. When Colorado legalized marijuana in 2013, Waste Farmers developed Batch 64, named after Amendment 64, for the ballot initiative. The company saw it as an incredible opportunity to grow controlled agriculture.
“Founded in 2010, Technori’s mission is to create momentum for startups by building a community around tech and innovation that enables early stage companies to get in front of thousands of members of the tech community to connect with, and share their story with future customers, employees and investors!
To date, 300+ companies have presented at over 75 events and gone on to raise more than $260,000,000 in venture capital. In fact, Technori startups now employ over 2,500 people and have gone onto some of the top accelerators in the world, including; Y Combinator, Tech Stars and AngelPad – and several more have already exited” (Technori.com)!
“On February 28, Technori hosted five African-American entrepreneurs in the Chase Bank Auditorium at 10 South Dearborn St. in Chicago. The founders pitched their business to a 300-person audience. The evening—which also featured a keynote address from Emile Cambry Jr., founder of tech innovation center Blue 1647, and an introduction to Shamari Walker, a high schooler from Hammond, Indiana, who developed his own software company—celebrated minority entrepreneurship on the last day of Black History Month (Medill Reports Chicago)”.
The event resulted in roughly half of the audience being African-American which served as a conversation starter for tech communities that may have never interacted before. The event helped exposed some in the tech community to minorities that have worked in technology all of their lives. There is no secret that the tech industry has a minority problem; or lack of diversity. Entrepreneurs like Shaniqua Davis (Noirefy) and Donna Beasley (KaZoom) talked about taking advantage of the chance to challenge stereotypes and serve as role models for aspiring entrepreneurs. It is true that the young African-American Community often lack interest and/or confidence in tech careers.
In an effort to combat racial bias in policing and criminal sentencing, Google donated 11.5 million dollars in grants to four organizations combating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. “It’s hard to measure justice,” Phillip Atiba Goff, co-founder and president at the Center for Policing Equity (which will receive $5 million, the largest share of Google’s grants), told USA Today. “In policing, data are so sparse and they are not shared broadly. The National Justice Database is an attempt to measure justice so that people who want to do the right thing can use that metric to lay out a GPS for getting where we are trying to go. That’s really what we see Google as being a key partner in helping us do.”
One of the groups Google is supporting is the Equal Justice Initiative which is a group that Black Lives Matter has endorsed. The story is a fascinating one as Google is known for its lack of diversity in its work force. Still it is an encouraging sign to see that the company is not afraid to join the conversation of racial bias in policing and criminal sentencing.
The Social Club, a barbershop that impacts the community and the natural environment is one of many black-owned businesses being credited with being a part of Detroit’s resurgence. The company aims to rebuild the American community by expanding into all realms of modern gentlemen: Fashion, Music, Lifestyle, and others. Bonding, socializing, and exchanging ideas is what the social club brings back to the barbershop.
Founded by Sebastian Jackson in 2012, the Social Club is committed to offering a hassle-free, yet high quality experience, without the pretensions of a salon. Jackson had his first three business plans rejected by Wayne State University, his desired location for The Social Club. Eventually Sebastian and his wife Gabrielle opened The Social Club Grooming on WSU’s main campus, built with reclaimed lumber from blighted Detroit homes.
The Social Club is giving back by partnering with a local park to build a greener city by providing hair clippings to be used as fertilizer for 200 trees. The Social Club has drawn in some big names including NFL running back Reggie Bush and Detroit Born neo-soul singer Dwele. Described as “Our Superman in Detroit” by a 2013 article, Sebastian Jackson represents what America needs more of; passionate entrepreneurs with fresh ideas that look to inspire change while making the world a little better every day.
Parachute will be one the hottest startups to watch in 2017. The bedding, bath, and décor retailer is committed to manufacturing products that surpass the most stringent safety and environmental protection standards. Their home essentials are Oeko-Tex certified, meaning they’re free of synthetics and chemicals, and our manufacturer’s Responsible Down Standard certification ensures our down comes from humanely treated ducks.
High Quality Bedding is produced from a company in Italy and then sold through Parachute’s website and one store at its headquarters in Venice Beach, California. It is also worth noting that co-living startups are now including advertising that says they have Parachutes Sheets.
Founded in 2014 by Ariel Kaye, Parachute partners with Nothing But Nets, an organization providing safe sleep to those in need. Social responsibility has been implicit to Parachute’s business model from the start. For every Venice Set sold, Parachute sends one life-saving malaria prevention bed net to people in need through Nothing But Nets.