An Indianapolis-based nonprofit is one of 50 throughout the country to receive a grant from Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) community skills program. Be Nimble Foundation says the $300,000 grant will be used to provide digital skills and workforce development for Black talent in the tech sector. The foundation says the funding will support six training bootcamps in partnership with Indianapolis-based Eleven Fifty Academy and gener8tor Upskilling, among others.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Be Nimble co-founder Kelli Jones said the funding will boost the organization’s mission of upskilling Black talent and supporting Black entrepreneurs.
“This award was really just an additional lever to help us do a lot more than what we were doing before,” said Jones. “We’ve been testing out these pilots and programs for the last three years. We know they work. We know we have the opportunity to really do a lot more and so this grant from Microsoft is really going to help us do that.”
One nonprofit from each state was chosen by Microsoft for grant funding. The foundation says the bootcamps will focus on web design and development, tech sales, and customer success.
Applications are being accepted now for the first sales cohort that will launch in April. In total, two cohorts will launch this year with the remaining four taking place in 2022.
Jones says the goal with the funding is to “develop out sort of our own white-labeled courses and cohorts where we’ll be able to directly train Black talent, place them into careers in tech startups around the state or around the country and hopefully, be able to really push the needle when it comes to seeing more people of color, specifically Black people, in the tech ecosystem here locally.”
Jones says when Be Nimble was founded in late 2016, the foundation was welcomed by the tech community, particularly companies that wanted to learn more about becoming more diverse and find organizations to connect them with that talent.
“There’s been significant gaps in tech, specifically with the Black community,” said Jones. “When we got here, there really wasn’t much of anything; I mean, obviously there were coding bootcamps and programs and different things like that, but really not anything targeted specifically Black talent that was out of school already. For us, (the grant) is an opportunity to double down.”
Be Nimble says the bootcamps add to other initiatives it has created to eliminate “barriers to access and opportunity that prevent achievement in tech for people of color.” Those efforts include an early-stage accelerator, an idea-stage accelerator, and a food entrepreneurship accelerator.
Jones says the grant will help the foundation reach its long-term goal of creating a broader, fully diverse tech ecosystem.
Jones says the funding will boost the organization’s mission of upskilling Black talent and supporting Black entrepreneurs.