By: Alesia Bani | Published on: Nov 22, 2022
- 1Philadelphia celebrates two year anniversary with an Innovation Weekend in the city.
- Over $320,000 in grants were awarded to community organizations and entrepreneurs during the weekend.
- 1Philadelphia has accomplished the majority of goals founder Sylvester Mobley set at the inception of the initiative.
In the last two years since launching, 1Philadelphia has brought together key stakeholders and partners across nonprofit, corporate and government sectors through a city-wide initiative to create an equitable tech and innovation ecosystem for underrepresented and underserved Philadelphians.
Over the course of three days, from November 17 to 19, 1Philadelphia held several events during its Innovation Weekend to celebrate the initiatives’ ongoing work in Philadelphia. Over $320,000 was awarded to founders, community organizations and young emerging entrepreneurs during the weekend.
“This is what we want to continually do, to be a convener of the tech community. You’ll see a lot more of this, but we really wanted to showcase and celebrate all of our partners that have worked with us,” Danae Mobley, COO of Coded by Kids, told The Plug.
Eight grants were awarded to organizations working to increase diversity in tech including Gaming Cxmmunity Co., which is focused on increasing representation in esports, and Mom Your Business, which connects female founders to resources and opportunities.
1Philadelphia has supported several programs since its inception, including the Innovation League, a program modeled after a sports league to introduce high school students to sustainable careers in tech and innovation, and Mentor Connect, a mentorship program for entrepreneurs.
For this year’s Innovation League, students worked to create entrepreneurial solutions to everyday challenges for people in their schools and communities, and during the Innovation Weekend, they presented their ideas to judges for a chance to win $5,000. The winning team, Team Orbit, created a business concept for a volunteering platform for students.
1Philadelphia also hosted a pitch competition where a total of $60,000 was distributed to Black and brown entrepreneurs. Judges came from stakeholder organizations in the region including Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.
Judges at the pitch competition on Nov. 18 (Chris Kendig)
Technologist, entrepreneur and investor Sylvester Mobley launched 1Philadelphia in the fall of 2020 as an extension of the work he has done since 2014 with his youth tech education nonprofit Coded by Kids.
Mobley shared his vision for the initiative in October 2020, highlighting three goals: building an integrated tech education, skill development and experiential learning ecosystem that targets high-growth opportunity careers; building the infrastructure needed to support an integrated ecosystem; and changing the way Black Philadelphians look at tech and innovation and change the culture of our city.
In the last two years, 1Philadelphia has made substantial progress in building the ecosystem, Danae Mobley, who is married to Sylvester Mobley, said. The initiative has over 75 partner organizations who have pledged to be part of the tech equity mission including Comcast, Bank of America and social impact organization Spring Point Partners.
Danae Mobley (LinkedIn)
Part of Mobley’s second goal was to develop an ecosystem advisory council, which it recently accomplished. The council is responsible for guiding the 1Philadelphia staff and selected the eight community organization grant recipients who were honored during the Innovation Weekend.
The last goal is a work in progress, Danae Mobley said.
“We’re just getting started. It’s a narrative change, it’s a culture shift,” she said. “We’re really trying to make a space that includes everyone so we’re constantly working on that and we’re going to continue to work on it.”
1Philadelphia’s vision has not changed since Sylvester Mobley put pen to paper two years ago, outlining his goals to make Philadelphia’s tech and innovation ecosystem more equitable. “It’s only magnified,” Danae Mobley said. “I’m super encouraged by how people have responded to and showed up for this vision.”
Alesia Bani is a writer and journalist from Philadelphia and The Plug’s Innovation Reporter covering the Black tech ecosystem in Philadelphia. She previously worked for the Institutional Diversity office at her alma mater Temple University and has a background in reporting on identity, DEI and local government.