Submitted by Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced more than $590,000 in new funding for three projects aimed at fostering community among entrepreneurs and tech innovators while advancing the city as a diverse and inclusive innovation hub.
From an innovation district designed to support emerging entrepreneurs and add vibrancy to Miami’s Opa-locka neighborhood to a technology entrepreneurship course for young people to a newly-launched nonprofit that will provide promising local entrepreneurs access to the startup world’s top resources and leaders, the projects focus on supporting and propelling entrepreneurs across the community. They also work to expand opportunity for groups that are underrepresented in the technology sector.
“Ensuring Miamians have access to the opportunities they need to scale their ideas and solve the problems they care about is essential to creating an inclusive innovation ecosystem. These projects will help to diversify Miami’s pipeline of technologists and entrepreneurs and enable Miami startups to access the best resources in new and low cost ways,” said Chris Caines, Knight Foundation interim program director for Miami.
The projects receiving support:
NFTE - Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship ($250,000) – Helping young, aspiring entrepreneurs develop their entrepreneurial mindset by expanding Startup Tech, a technology entrepreneurship course for middle and high school students from underserved neighborhoods. The program provides students the opportunity to develop a working mobile app-based business, as well as entrepreneurship training. As part of the program,students create an original app that addresses a community need, craft a business plan and, pitch the plan to a panel of expert judges for the chance to win funding. With Knight support, NFTE will expand the program to five program sites in greater Miami public schools.
Opa-locka Community Development Corporation ($135,000) – Expanding opportunity and entrepreneurship in Opa-locka by supporting the THRIVE campus’ innovation lab and makerspace, and urban farm and market. At the innovation lab Opa-locka residents will be trained to use new media and technology, and earn marketable industry certifications, while sharing resources and knowledge in a co-working space. The urban farm will allow people to help build and manage the farm, and offer them agriculture, marketing, and training opportunities. The urban market will transform a vacant lot into a community and retail space, including redesigned shipping containers where local entrepreneurs can sell the farm’s produce and food from the campus’ commercial kitchen.
Platform.Miami ($208,000) – Supporting early stage entrepreneurs through the newly-launched Platform.Miami, a nonprofit which will provide promising local entrepreneurs access to the startup world’s top resources and leaders. The organization will offer online and offline education opportunities and services to help entrepreneurs better structure, setup and scale their startups. To this end, Platform will create "The Playbook,” a resource for best practices on product-market fit, business models, digital marketing, legal structure, and attracting venture capital. It will also showcase a selected list of top service providers to help entrepreneurs find the best professional services to support their growth.
Support for these projects is part of Knight Foundation’s broader effort to invest in Miami’s emerging innovators and entrepreneurs as a tool to build community while fostering talent and expanding economic opportunity. Over the past five years Knight has made more than 200 investments in entrepreneurship in South Florida.