The initiative's goal is to create a more diverse and civically engaged tech workforce
BERKELEY, CA / ACCESSWIRE / September 12, 2019 / The Berkeley Startup Cluster, including the City of Berkeley, Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley's top accelerator, Berkeley SkyDeck, as well as other UC Berkeley departments and accelerators, are launching today the "Berkeley Ventures, Berkeley Values" (BV2) initiative to elevate awareness and drive greater diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the local tech and biotech industries.
The group will work with local entrepreneurs and companies to encourage them to create a more diverse workforce and get involved in the local community. Finding ways to connect Berkeley's 350+ innovation sector companies with local non-profits and educational programs that serve students from disadvantaged backgrounds is a top priority for the city.
"It is important to me that as Berkeley's economy grows, all people in our community have opportunities to benefit from that growth. And we are confident that we can leverage the skills, knowledge and innovation of local startup founders and their teams to help us achieve that goal," said Mayor of Berkeley Jesse Arreguin.
As Berkeley's innovation companies continue to bring new job opportunities, talent, and funding to the city, it is critical that local policymakers, schools and businesses work together. To support industry education about businesses' role in creating inclusive workplaces and get young startups engaged with the community, the Berkeley Startup Cluster was awarded a UC Berkeley Chancellor's Community Partnership Fund grant for $12,000. In addition, the City of Berkeley has allocated $30,000 over the next two years to support BV2.
As part of the BV2 initiative, participating organizations will educate, engage and encourage Berkeley's innovators to develop more diverse teams and give back to the local community through mentoring, equipment donations, student education, and other community projects. Innovation companies will be encouraged to open their offices for visits by local high school and college students, provide panelists for the annual Berkeley High School College and Career Week, volunteer in classrooms to expose students to unique STEM activities, etc.
Cohort companies affiliated with the startup support programs involved in BV2 (Berkeley SkyDeck, Cyclotron Road, and the CITRIS Foundry) will participate in at least one DEI educational program and be encouraged to volunteer in the community during their time in the program. Starting this fall, SkyDeck will host a diversity, equity and inclusion speaker series sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank focusing on female founder initiatives. And CITRIS Foundry and Cyclotron Road have already begun finding opportunities for the members of their cohort to give back to the community.
"At Berkeley SkyDeck, we are fortunate to be helping the best startups on the planet, and one of the most important principles we can instill in the founders is the importance of diversity and inclusion," said Caroline Winnett, Executive Director of Berkeley SkyDeck. 'At SkyDeck we are incorporating these values into our work with our startups, discussing the principles and helping our founders to build them into their business operations.'
As the leaders from around the city work to drive inclusion, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce will present the Berkeley Visionary Awards on Monday, September 16. The event will raise awareness about 'innovation with conscience' and honor local founders who exemplify Berkeley's values, including Magoosh's Bhavin Parikh, who prioritizes diversity in hiring, as well as Medinas Health's Chloe Alpert, who is a role model for women entrepreneurs.
For more information or to learn how you can get involved, visit www.berkeleystartupcluster.com/giveback
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SOURCE: UC Berkeley SkyDeck
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