TULSA, Okla., July 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Black Tech Street announced an unprecedented alliance with Microsoft for Historic Greenwood, the neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, given the moniker, "Black Wall Street," by Booker T. Washington for its abundance of affluent Black entrepreneurs.
Dubbed by Black Tech Street, "The Digital Transformation of Black Wall Street", the alliance aims to restore Greenwood's position as a national hub for Black talent and innovation. Founded in 2021, Black Tech Street's mission is to rebirth Black Wall Street as a Black innovation economy by securing Black tech-focused economic and industry development opportunities for the Greenwood community.
"Since its inception, Black Tech Street's focus has been on securing transformative partnerships capable of addressing deeply-rooted economic inequities stemming from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre at scale. Our partnership with Microsoft is a perfect example of such an opportunity and reflects the very essence of both our organizations," said Tyrance Billingsley II, Black Tech Street Founder and Executive Director.
"We are grateful for Microsoft's support and engagement that is game changing for Greenwood, and sends a clear message that Black Wall Street will continue to be a national leader of Black innovation in the 21st century."
One cornerstone of the alliance is that Black Tech Street has been named as the Microsoft TechSpark Fellow for the State of Oklahoma. The TechSpark Community Engagement Fellowship program empowers community organizations with a combination of funding, programming, hands-on mentorship, and training, and focuses on digital access, computer science education, digital skills, and digital transformation.
"Microsoft believes digital inclusion is core to ensuring everyone on the planet benefits from advances in technology, and that programming and opportunities must be created for those with the potential to be left behind," said Ann Johnson, corporate vice president for security business development at Microsoft. "We are pleased to work with Black Tech Street, local government leaders, and community organizations to help build and further reinforce Greenwood and Tulsa as centers for technology vision, leadership, and entrepreneurship."
Black Tech Streets Ambition: Creating 1000+ Black Cyber Professionals in Tulsa
The first phase of this collaboration will include a series of community and Microsoft-supported investments aimed at raising the capacity of the Tulsa ecosystem to produce, attract, and support Black cyber talent. Black Tech Street's goal is to leverage Microsoft's programmatic support/resources alongside other national partners to create and employ 1000 Black Tulsans in Cyber and adjacent fields. Black Tech Street's aim is to accomplish this by 2030. Investing in the cybersecurity workforce has been a priority for Microsoft, as they aim to support the estimated gap of 1.6 million cyber professionals in North America alone. Black Tech Street will leverage its alliance with Microsoft in the following areas to contribute towards reaching its goal:
Workforce and Skilling
- Microsoft Cybersecurity Scholarship Program: Tulsa Community College (TCC) was accepted into Microsoft's Cybersecurity Scholarship Program, providing cash scholarships to the highly diverse students receiving training at TCC's Cyber Skills Center.
- Employment Partner and Sponsor Consortium: Black Tech Street, with Microsoft support, will lead a nationwide consortium for connecting employers looking to hire Black Cyber talent in Tulsa for local and remote roles. The program will also fund scholarships for Black students interested in cyber. A critical strategy for BTS is to ensure skilled tech talent stays in Tulsa, contributing to the local economy. Microsoft embraces flexible work, including schedule and work location flexibility, that supports individual work styles while balancing business needs.
Education and Digital Access
- Microsoft TechSpark-Digital Education Access: Black Tech Street's participation in the Microsoft TechSpark program will include, among many other components, a comprehensive suite of services and technology platforms for educators, students, and school systems on multiple levels.
- High School Tech Education: Black Tech Street, the University of Tulsa, and Microsoft, will collaborate on a plan to accelerate Computer Science and related tech education to north Tulsa secondary school students.
Innovation Research and Thought Leadership
- The University of Tulsa and Microsoft: Black Tech Street plans to pilot studies in cyber research and experiential learning that leverage cutting-edge technology from Microsoft's investments in generative AI cybersecurity alongside the University of Tulsa as part of the alliance to better position the ecosystem in cyber-AI innovation. The University of Tulsa's nationally recognized cyber university, with its NSA affiliated Cyber Corps program, as well as a suite of successful cyber partnerships with high schools and community colleges, made cyber an obvious choice for partnership.
- Black Tech Street Cyber Summit: In 2024, Black Tech Street and Tulsa Innovation Labs will host the first Black Tech Street Cyber Summit. This summit will be a gathering of the foremost cyber experts from corporations, academia, and government. This summit is meant to serve as a meeting of the minds as it relates to charting a more effective national narrative and plan as it relates to mobilizing Black Americans into cyber en masse. Microsoft will host its "Into the Breach" gamified learning experience to test cybersecurity skills for Black Tulsans.
Microsoft's initial support via this alliance will anchor the first portion of a larger strategy by Black Tech Street to establish Greenwood as a national leader in the three critical technology areas of Cyber Security, Business Intelligence/Data Analytics, and Equitable Artificial Intelligence (See ED Tyrance Billingsley's op-ed What's Next? Black Wall Street's Innovation Ambitions).
Black Tech Street will also be supported in the execution of these Microsoft supported initiatives by local anchor partner Tulsa Innovation Labs, a philanthropic organization dedicated to building industrial clusters around sectors where Tulsa has distinct advantages.
The alliance has also garnered the support of City officials.
"I am excited about this new alliance between Black Tech Street and Microsoft in Tulsa," Mayor G.T. Bynum said. "This partnership will help increase cyber talent in our city, as well as promote tech education and workforce readiness for the incredible talent we have in our community."
This is the start of a long-term relationship between Black Tech Street, Greenwood, and Microsoft, and will redefine what is possible for communities and cities willing to simultaneously invest in people and in technology.
The announcement of this alliance was also included in the Biden-Harris Administration's announcement of its National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy to Unleash America's Cyber Talent:
Black Tech Street is an organization founded to rebirth Black Wall Street as a Black Innovation Economy and catalyze a movement that sees Black people embrace technology as a means to build wealth and impact the world. Black Tech Street architects and secures Black tech focused economic and industry development opportunities for the Greenwood community and serves as a chief storyteller for Black Wall Street's 21st century rebirth.
Tyrance Billingsley II
SOURCE Black Tech Street