HBCUvc founder Hadiyah Mujhid on one way investors can advance racial equity

In response to VCs’ sudden rush to invest in more Black founders, Black venture capitalists and entrepreneurs have penned a bunch of advice on the best way to tap into talent. Among the strategies? Team up with Black firms already doing the work. Some firms have said that they’re going to turn to HBCUvc, a nonprofit organization that helps students from historically Black colleges and universities enter venture and tech.

In response to an outpouring of donations and support for HBCUvc, its founder Hadiyah Mujhid introduced a Donor Circle as one way investors can help in light of the overdue awakening.

“We’ve created the HBCUvc Donor Circle as an opportunity for supporters and individuals to engage in our work and join a long-term strategy toward racial equity in venture capital and technology,” she wrote in the post.

A donor circle member needs to make a gift of $1,000 or more to join the cohort, with an annual financial commitment. Donors will be able to engage with students in the HBCUvc community, work with other community members that are committed to practicing venture through anti-racist events and receive invitations to community events and summits.

“Joining the donor circle is the best way to get involved in HBCUvc. We cannot make significant progress in advancing racial equity without long-term financial commitment,” Mujhid wrote.

HBCUvc, which we first wrote about in 2017, currently holds a number of programs to help Black and Hispanic students enter the world of tech, from fellowships to micro-grants. It held a city-based internship program with Los Angeles, which connects students to venture capital firms in the area. The program is expanding to Chicago in 2021, the blog post notes.

HBCUvc’s first batch was 11 students from three universities. The Black and women-led team has since grown to support 123 students.

Just two weeks ago, HBCUVc was struggling to keep staff on deck due to the financial impact of COVID-19. Mujhid had to communicate that the “community they’ve built may formally cease without emergency funding.”

The organization and its work with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) has been amplified in recent weeks after the murder of George Floyd and international protests against ongoing police brutality in the United States. Some say HBCUs are a place for startups to go and look for diverse talent, and others think that the institutions could serve as LPs in funds and demand more racial equity.

“A piece of me wants to know why our voices were unheard and why it required such a horrific event to bring awareness and action to what should have already been a priority,” Mujhid wrote.

The singular sentence underlines a key message I’ve heard from the Black tech community in the past two weeks: It should not have taken a murder to start thinking about racial inequality. It’s why some doubt the intentions of companies and firms newly promising to increase diversity, beyond the opportunistic lip service.

Read the whole HBCUvc blog post here.