A serial entrepreneur wants to democratize economic opportunity in every city
Stimulus is a new technology platform that connects diverse communities of entrepreneurs, corporate and community leaders, decision-makers, and resource-providers
For-profit or nonprofit organizations alike need three components to thrive: resources, partners, and customers or clients. Sometimes the odds are stacked against the organizations lead by diverse founders. It is that first-hand knowledge that fuels the the founders of Stimulus–bringing economic equality to life–and that goes into our business model to transform information into opportunity for all, through discovery, collaboration, and evaluation.
You may have heard the saying “your network is your net worth.” It means that you should invest in authentic personal and professional relationships because social capital is important. That’s where Stimulus comes in. Our technology company understands that for sustainable social impact we must connect our communities to the right partners, sponsors, and resources.
I’ve been brainstorming and developing tactics for the above issues for many years prior to starting Stimulus because of my own experience of needing resources to sustain and grow previous ventures. I had always been self-funded but at times needed to bring in additional resources to stay afloat. So I set up Google alerts to let me know about available resources (especially for minority and women organizations) but I was disappointed in the results I received every week. In addition to my needs, I witnessed the disconnect between the clients I was working with in the government, nonprofit, and for-profit industries. I was constantly asked how to develop relationships with my clients, and vice versa: my clients needed to be connected to the communities in which they served. As a result, I developed a database of available resources and separated the information by suppliers and organizations in demand.
The idea for Stimulus was finally formalized in 2016, Stimulus a technology company that provides an award relationship management platform and uses machine learning to solve discovery, collaborations, and evaluation between enterprise departments, as they discover the diverse business talent needed for award programs. An award program can range from grants in the CSR department to business contracts to sponsorship from any department with an engagement budget. In order for “economic equality to life” to occur, we must understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion is not just who you hire internally but who you sponsor, partner with, and invest in, ensuring that the organization can eventually thrive and scale on their own—and pay it forward. With Stimulus, creating a centralized system approach to awarding diverse organizations, various departments have the opportunity to take advantage of existing relationships (or add new ones) from other parts of their organization—while that diverse organization has the opportunity to build a sustainable relationship beyond a one-time transaction.
My team and I met while working on Open Access Philly, which was started in 2011 to increase citizen engagement through technology, programming, and meetings. This led to the creation of OpenDataPhilly, the first public-private open data platform in the U.S. Fast Forward to 2018, Open Access Philly is now known as Open Access (OAx) powered by Stimulus (fiscally sponsored by the Urban Affairs Coalition), an open collaboration platform dedicated to bring economic equality to life with Smart City and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. The team has always worked in the intersection of technology, civic engagement and entrepreneurship.
Over the last two years, Stimulus has had the opportunity to work with large organizations including Microsoft, AT&T, and more as they looked to discover diverse applicants for opportunities they had available in the communities they served. Two of our favorite projects include working on the 2017 Budweiser Made In America Festival in Philadelphia with the ACLU and United Way; the proceeds from the festival benefited both nonprofits through the organizers, The Shawn Carter Foundation. Stimulus organized a three-day activation to reach over 100,000 attendees to showcase how the proceeds would benefit the community and discuss how music and culture can contribute to criminal justice reform and early education.
Our second favorite project was working with Comcast/NBCUniversal on the launch of Project Innovation, with a specific focus on Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Project Innovation is a grant program that recognizes local nonprofit organizations that are leveraging technology to solve community problems. It distributed over $2 million to nonprofits focused on civic engagement, STEM/STEAM, and skills for the digital economy.
Stimulus is solving the social problem of democratizing information and opportunities for diverse communities while helping to maximize the return, impact, and value of community investments. Because in every city, residents and organizations want to grow or improve their businesses, neighborhood quality, and economic opportunity.