An incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity, the South by Southwest (SXSW®) features five days of compelling presentations and panels from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders and an unbeatable lineup of special programs showcasing the best new websites, video games and startup ideas the community has to offer. From hands-on training to big-picture analysis of the future, SXSW Interactive has become the place to discover the technology of tomorrow today.
Since 1987, the event is a launching pad for new creative content. In 2015, more than 84,385 attendees experienced new media presentations, music showcases and film screenings that provide buzz-generating exposure for creators and compelling entertainment for audiences. Conference panel discussions present a forum for learning business activity thrives at the Trade Shows and global networking opportunities abound. Intellectual and creative intermingling among industry leaders continues to spark new ideas and carve the path for the future of each ever-evolving field, long after the events’ conclusion.
Expanding diversity and inclusion at SXSW is a very important part of our intentional strategy to increase authentic and natural diversity and inclusion throughout the innovation, entrepreneurship and investment ecosystems. Why? It’s simple.
SXSW shapes global narratives and perspectives; fosters authentic conversations and dialogue; and creates serendipitous moments and opportunities to connect with the leaders of tech, capital and culture.
Our thesis is simple: Diversify SXSW and we will diversify the innovation, entrepreneurship and investment ecosystem for all.
In 2016, The South by Southwest Interactive Festival announced a new partnership with Opportunity Hub, MVMT50 and several Historically Black Colleges and Universities to bring high potential student technology entrepreneurs to this year’s 2016 Interactive Festival in Austin, TX. This effort was designed to support President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which was launched to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.
The 2016 inaugural cohort maintained a rigorous daily itinerary in which the student entrepreneurs maximized their opportunities to learn, network and engage with some of the world’s top innovators, entrepreneurs and investors. Some of the students participated in a Hackathon at Huston-Tillotson University, attended SXSW workshops, panels, conversations and pitch competitions including a special fireside chat with President Barack Obama; and networked at receptions and events scheduled at The District of Columbia’s #WeDC House and the City of Atlanta’s #ChooseAtl House.
Over fifty (50) student entrepreneurs and faculty from HBCU’s across America participated in 2016. Let’s bring hundreds in 2017!
Our objectives are very simple and clear. Expose hundreds of high potential students to the career opportunities in the innovation, entrepreneurship and investment economies. Educate these students on how to properly engage and navigate the innovation, entrepreneurship and investment ecosystem. Create an experience that facilitates the right connections and relationships that result in immediate summer internships, career opportunities or startup acceleration. Send them back to their respective schools so they can create a hyper-local technology and startup ecosystem in their communities. Pipeline them to the best companies and opportunities designed to maximize their career and company building potential.
“SXSW Interactive is excited to be working with Opportunity Hub on helping to bring more HBCU students and young people of color to Austin in March,” said Hugh Forrest, Director, South by Southwest Interactive Festival. “Exposing these entrepreneurs to all the opportunities for learning and networking that SXSW has to offer is important in their development as cofounders. These young HBCU entrepreneurs are likewise important in the continued development of SXSW as a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem for all. Initiatives such as this one are a strong step towards achieving the goal of a more diverse tech industry.”
Together, we have the opportunity to make the 2017 HBCU@SXSW an overwhelming success. Current partners include Snapchat, Delta Air Lines, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cox Enterprises, and over 20 National Football League players including Derrick Morgan (Tennessee Titans, Huddle Ventures), Russell Okung (Denver Broncos) and Drayton Florence (retired NFL Player, Vets Who Tech). Will you join us as we expose a new generation of diverse talent to the innovation, entrepreneurship and investment economy.
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