On Wednesday, Tech Spark AI and founder Tamar Huggins announced a $1.4 million pre-seed round for Spark Plug, the company’s generative AI website. Leading the funding were TD Bank and Salesforce, with additional assistance from the Canadian government and NBA Canada.

Tech Spark AI was founded eight years ago to develop lessons for Black and brown students in underserved communities across North America. With the help of her 13-year-old daughter, Talia Grant, the Black-owned AI program targets Gen Z. A Black alternative to ChatGPT is planned for Spark Plug, according to Tech Crunch.

In its first version, the product allows users to translate classic literature into modern literature — Shakespeare won’t be so hard to understand — standard text is translated into African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Talia is well-versed in AAVE and participates in the language like most Gen Z social media users. Talia’s experience led her to train the company’s language model.

“Oftentimes, technology is designed without the lens of Blackness, and therefore, the impact on Black communities can be quite negative, especially when it comes to AI in general,” Huggins told TechCrunch. “It’s really about how we can identify the problems that exist within our own communities using technology to create meaningful, safe-tailored solutions that generate impact.”

Despite its focus on Black youth, Spark Plug will be available for all ages. Huggins shared that the main objective is to make Black people feel like “they belong.”

“Historically, Black people haven’t always felt like they belonged, and as a result, we’ve had to create our own spaces. Technology is no different,” she said. “As long as we are including the voices of those systematically left out of the conversation, AI can take us in the right direction.”

Along with language translation, Spark Plug has developed an assessment tool called LearningDNA that helps educators understand how students learn best. For example, Spark Plug will present a concept to students using a hip-hop melody if they learn best by listening. The system will also be multifaceted in dialects.

“A Black child in Canada is very different from the U.S., and it’s very different in Haiti or Jamaica,” Huggins said. “We believe to see the changes we want to see in our community, we have to redesign the learning experience, and in order to redesign it, we have to personalize it.”