Athlete Technology Group last weekend hosted the second installation of Tech Summit Black.
Tech Summit Black, hosted in partnership with RBC Future Launch, is a virtual event for the Black community in tech spaces to gather and build connections with Black youth. This year’s edition focused on demystifying technology through education and immersion with a line-up of speakers that discussed building tech skills and networks without formal training.
Panellists include the likes of Sasha Ruddock, owner and creator of Flaws of Couture; as well as Jae Richards, an internet content creator from 4YE Media. Both Toronto-based influencers were able to build out their personal brand using technology and social media, without knowing how to code.
“As much as technology is in front of us and around us, we really don’t need to code to be able to participate.”
– Randy Osei, Athlete Tech Group
Athlete Tech Group founder and CEO Randy Osei noted that people like Ruddock and Richards work with Tech Summit Black to share information and say, “As much as technology is in front of us and around us, we really don’t need to code to be able to participate.”
The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship released a report in 2016 that found that even when Black students major in tech-oriented degrees, they are less likely than their White and Asian counterparts to pursue a career in tech.
Bringing together Osei’s network of professional athletes, venture capitalists, and tech founders, Athlete Tech Group launched Tech Summit Black in 2021 to make tech education more accessible for Black youth.
In line with its mission to encourage Black youth to enter the tech field, Tech Summit Black also featured Black business leaders making an impact in the ecosystem. These include BlackMINT co-founder Bernie Uche, Canadian Football League player and Firework app CEO Nate Behar, as well as The Zone founder Ivan Tchatchouwo.
For its inaugural event last year, Osei said the group wanted to “spark curiosity,” which he describes as important when it comes to introducing new things to groups that aren’t much integrated into the space.
The idea of creating an event such as Tech Summit Black came from the need to create more equitable spaces within the innovation sector for the Black community. According to Osei, he got the idea around the time George Floyd, a Black 46-year-old man, had been murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin.
Osei said around 550 people attended Tech Summit Black last year, with the average viewer staying for two and a half hours in the five-hour event.
By engaging the Black community through Tech Summit Black, Athlete Tech Group was able to attract new partnerships as well. One of the successes that came out of the first event, according to Osei, was RBC Future Launch teaming up with the group to not only bolster the next event, but also introduce new initiatives.
RBC Future Launch is a 10-year, $500-million commitment that was made to help young Canadians prepare for their careers. RBC has worked with Athlete Tech Group and BlackMINT to launch the Rising Star program, a free nine-month program for Black high school students in grades 10 and 11.
The Rising Star program provides students with practical tech skills, access to mentors, and opportunities to build their network within the tech industry.
Athlete Tech Group has been active in providing accessible tech education through other means as well. Funded by the federal government’s Anti-Racism Action Plan, Athlete Tech Group created the Athlete Women Empowered Program, which intends to address barriers to employment, justice and social participation among women Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) athletes in Canada.
Since its inception in 2019, Athlete Tech Group’s goal has always been to engage different communities through events. However, its business model has evolved to provide education for youth.
In 2020, Athlete Tech Group was created as the full-time and national extension of the Athlete Technology Summit, which was a summit held in Toronto for the sport and tech community.
Athlete Tech Group continued to host events, but Osei said he wanted to “break barriers to education” at a larger scale.
In October, Athlete Tech Group launched the beta version of its first product, the Training Ground mobile app, which centralizes all of the organization’s events and programs into a single platform.
“We’re really leveraging technology to not only break these barriers, give access, but also put it in people’s favourite devices, their phones,” said Osei.
There are currently 15 different programs available in the Training Ground app, ranging in topics from financial literacy to personal branding. Osei teases that the platform would soon feature content made in collaboration with Canadian companies such as Surf, Goodlawyer, and Mind-Easy.
“[We’re] really tapping into the same community that we host events for,” said Osei. “We leverage that same community to educate our community as well, everything we do is community-focused.”
Feature image source Nappy