BIPOC Voices

Voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color

Closing the Opportunity Gap with Sondra Samuels, Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ)

The Northside Achievement Zone exists to permanently close the opportunity gap and end multi-generational poverty in North Minneapolis. Sondra Samuels grew up in New Jersey. At an early age, she moved schools from Newark, where 52% of the population is African American, to Scotch Plains, NJ, where African Americans make up 11% of the population. As she integrated the new school, she said she “nobody had an expectation that I was going to succeed.” As a teen, she experienced the death of several young African American men. Sondra explained, “They were being murdered by other young African American men. Remember, I’m living in the suburbs, and I’m experiencing young black…

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Style with a Purpose, with Hamilton Perkins, Hamilton Perkins Collection

Hamilton Perkins Collection is a certified B Corporation offering designer travel bags at an affordable price. Each bag is made from recycled plastic bottles and lined with vinyl from upcycled billboards. Hamilton Perkins found his niche early with retail sales. During university, he had a sneaker business on eBay. He made and sold leather bags. After college he entered financial services, rising through the ranks at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. Yet, he had an entrepreneurial itch. So, he enrolled in an MBA program at William & Mary while working full-time. Not only was Hamilton working full time while pursuing his MBA, but he also had a side-hustle business…

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An Ecosystem for Small Businesses, with Christopher Webley, New Rules

New Rules is a one-stop-shop for creatives and small businesses. Christopher Webley has always known that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. At the age of 11, he started a lawn care business. He printed flyers on his home computer and handed them out to the neighbors. Soon, he was so busy, his father took notice and decided to help. His dad bought a truck and started transporting Christopher to his jobs on the weekend. In exchange, Christopher helped his dad with cleaning buildings during the week. During college, Christopher started a menswear clothing line. After completing his degree in Textile Technology, Christopher went to work for Victoria‘s Secrets. As…

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Sustainable Community Development through Entrepreneurship, with Marcus Owens, NEON

Northside Economic Opportunity Network, better known as NEON, provides entrepreneurs in North Minneapolis with business development services. Marcus Owens is a product of North Minneapolis. He grew up there, graduating from North Community High School. He bought his first home there. Then his second. He says, “I always wanted to find a way to give back to this community.” Marcus has long been an entrepreneur, operating real estate and financial services businesses. He also worked at a regional bank and a large retailer. He ran a small nonprofit. By 2012, he was looking for more ways to give back to the community. He found his way to the board of…

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Clarity Comes While You Are Working, with Junita Flowers, Favorable Treats

Favorable Treats is a cookie company and social impact venture. Favorable Treats has a mission to let families across the country enjoy warm cookies in safe homes.  They produce and sell pre-portioned cookie dough. A percentage of their profits goes towards dating and domestic violence awareness and prevention. The founder of Favorable Treats, Junita Flowers grew up in a large family with seven brothers and sisters. Her mother and grandmother cooked and baked together. Junita says “The majority of my best childhood memories were spent in the kitchen.” In 2006, while staying home with her two small children, she began to experiment with cookie recipes. It reconnected her to her…

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A Catalyst for Caring and Building Community, with Rose McGee, Sweet Potato Comfort Pies

Rose McGee reminds me of that quote from tennis legend Arthur Ashe. “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Rose calls sweet potato pie “the sacred desert of black culture.” She grew up with her grandmother and great-grandmother in Jackson, Tennessee. As an adult, Rose decided that she wanted to make sweet potato pie. She called her grandmother and got the recipe. “Nothing was written down,” she says. “It was a pinch of this and a handful of that.” Rose’s first experiments with making sweet potato pie did not turn out. But she kept baking. Soon, friends were requesting her pies. And after a while,…

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How to Find Meaningful Work, Cheryl Dorsey, Echoing Green

Echoing Green identifies and invests in transformational leaders. How we spend our time is how we spend our lives. Unless you’re independently wealthy, there’s a good chance that right now you’re getting ready for work, on your way to work, you’re already at work, or you’re thinking about work. If we’re going to spend this much time at work, we might as well make that time count. But the path to meaningful work is not always a straight route. In fact, it might only make sense in hindsight. So, if meaningful work is so important, and the path is not always clearly marked, how do we find our way? Cheryl…

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Equipping Emerging Game Makers with Tools for Success, with Evva Kraikul, GLITCH

GLITCH promotes the exploration of digital games as a culture, career and creative practice. If I were to tell a joke about Evva Kraikul, it might go something like this “A game designer, a neuroscientist and an entrepreneur walk into a bar. She ordered herself a drink.” Evva brings her experience in game design and neuroscience to the startup world where she is the cofounder of GLITCH. Evva was an extraordinarily early adopter of technology. At the age of four, she was interested in all things digital. She used a laptop to explore online. When she was ten-years-old, she set up a website and sold Beanie Babies. Her first online…

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Amplifying the Voices of Muslim Women, with Nausheena Hussain, Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE)

Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment (RISE) is amplifying the voices and power of Muslim women. Nausheena Hussain was raised in a small town north of Chicago. She grew up believing in the American dream – work hard, go to college and you’ll succeed. But she found that there are invisible barriers. She is a woman. She is the daughter of Indian immigrants. And, as a woman of color with a piece of cloth on her head, she says “People feel threatened by me, or fear me.” So, she asked herself an important question. “What can I do to break through these barriers, especially because I have a daughter myself?”…

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