I feel like I have to get something off my chest. As someone who worked in corporate America most of my life, and only recently started their entrepreneurial journey, I feel like our diversity events are all, more or less, the same. The same formats: fireside chats, keynotes, panels hosting 3-15 people. (Yes, I unknowingly participated on a panel of 15 people at a high school.) Moreover, what’s constant and ever more prevalent as Black & Latino excellence rises to new highs is the counter force of white privilege and historic marginalization exerts ever-growing pressure Black & Latino professionals.

I’ve known New York on Tech’s (NYOT) founders for a few years, so I knew their 2019 Community Social Kickoff would not present the aforementioned grudgeries of the “tech event starter kit". Jessica Santana and Evin Floyd Robinson started Brooklyn on Tech (now, NYOT) in 2014. They are two native New Yorkers from Brooklyn who had a vision to bring tech jobs and opportunities to New Yorkers far removed from Silicon Valley. From hustling and building corporate partnerships with businesses like NBCUniversal, Google, Accenture, and FactSet; New York on Tech introduces students to tech companies for paid internships and now serves over 1,000+ students in New York City. All of this in just a few short years, with new plans to expand to other cities.

The purpose of the event was to invigorate those of us who have been fortunate enough to be the first in our families to graduate from college, to work for an awesome tech company like Google or LinkedIn — to collectively pool our money, time, and resources to empower young Black and Latino students aspiring to enter the fast, evolving tech space. Jessica, co-founder comments, “We all have a role play if we want to see change for young people in our communities and the generations that come after us. All students deserve to have a space in innovation”.

If we are lucky enough to make it to the top, we have an important duty to our communities, to our family & friends for all they sacrificed, to send the elevator back down. Netta Jenkins, our host, shared the mic with the audience, and many recalled how if it was not for the generosity of complete strangers in some cases, they would not have the level of privilege and opportunity they cherish. The tailored suit, the Fenty lipstick, the business trips — all a result of altruism. Evin comments, “It is imperative to share your blueprint with others. Teach them how to overcome obstacles and win. I know this is important and works because it was done for me. Empower others and lift as you climb.”

At NYOT, there are multiple ways you can support their initiative. If you’re interested in hosting a student at your company, The city pays for the internship, not the company. You can also donate space to help them host events/workshops, donate your time, money, or become a sponsor for their annual Innovators and Disruptors Awards. NYOT has built an engine to aggregate our people’s desire and passion to uplift, and integrate community development a pillar of our values as the diaspora.

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