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FACT SHEET: Opportunity Hub Announces New Racial Equity Focused Ecosystem Development Expansion, Edge Technology Training School Acquisition & Startup Entrepreneurship Support Initiative during 2021 SXSW

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AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#austin–To mark its ongoing commitment and work to scaling racial equity in the fourth industrial revolution and beyond, OHUB announces the following new acquisitions, launches, partnerships and initiatives.

Racial Equity Ecosystem Development Expansion

OHUB x Austin Equity District

This week, The Honorable Steve Adler, Mayor, City of Austin signaled his partnership and support of the new OHUB x Austin Equity District while addressing the 1,000 college students, coding bootcamp students and new graduates participating in the 6th annual OHUB@SXSW, an official collaboration with SXSW, the largest interactive technology, film and music festival on the planet. During his remarks, Mayor Adler encouraged the students to pursue engineering and business careers in Austin while making a bold ask to Austin’s corporations to become founding partners of the Equity District – starting with their commitment to hire this year’s cohort. In a session simulcast live via OHUB’s “House of Racial Equity” and virtual reality world, Equity District Co-Founder, Marcus Shaw talked about the critical role that industry, philanthropy and government play in catalyzing and sustaining an inclusive innovation, entrepreneurship and investment ecosystem with funding that goes beyond the performative commitments that were made in 2020 in response to the nation’s racial reckoning. The founding program partners in the OHUB x Austin Equity District include pre-accelerator, DivInc; cybersecurity academy, NextGenT; Historically Black College and University, Huston- Tillotson University; statewide techhub, coworking space and accelerator, Capital Factory; and the nation’s leading consultants, advisors and operators on innovation districts, HR&A Advisors.

“Developments that create density and connection have been important in developing America’s places for innovation. From the first research and development parks like the Raleigh Durham Research Triangle and innovation districts like TechSquare in Atlanta, creating density and connection has been key to driving innovation in the American economy. OHUB’s Equity District model for operationalizing diversity, equity and inclusion into these initiatives is key to creating opportunities to close the economic mobility and wealth gap in American cities. The Knowledge Economy Practice of HR&A Advisors is excited to join forces with OHUB in Austin and beyond to integrate this model into the future of place and space,” says Bob Geolas, Partner, HR&A Advisors.


During a session on OHUB’s new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Solutions certificate, UNC Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Entrepreneurship (Eship) Center announced that the Stanford Technology Ventures Program would be joining the initiative to deliver a joint best in class certificate program to technology companies, startups and venture funds starting this fall. OHUB also announced that it was making its DEIS Membership & Course available to all SXSW attendees free for a period of time.

Transformational Edge Technology Academy Acquisition

Merger & Acquisition

OHUB Futures, the rapid upskilling leg of Opportunity Hub, and The Fortress Academy, Pennsylvania’s first and only licensed Academy focused on robotics, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies. announce a merger for the specific purposes of scaling their collective capacity to upskill Americans in urban core, suburban and rural communities.

“At a time of such massive disruption and accelerated technological change, it’s never been more critical that we make sure no one gets left behind. The Fortress Academy couldn’t be more excited to be merging with OHUB and partnering with such an incredible visionary, technologist and friend as Rodney Sampson. This merger will allow us to contribute our expertise in robotics, AI and manufacturing to OHUB’s already nationwide presence,” says John McElligott, President, The Fortress Academy and CEO, York Exponential. “The next ten years is going to define the next 1000. Frontiers like Quantum computing, robotics, space exploration, make this the most exciting time in human history! But it could also become the most unequal if we sit on the sidelines and let only a few benefit from such exponential growth and opportunities. The future is being written today, let’s make sure that it’s a story that is more prosperous, inclusive and amazing for everyone.”

The academy will be headquartered in York, PA, with plans of locating in the York Plan 2.0 Innovation District. OHUB Futures will continue its national online certificate courses while working to launch a bootcamp for Central Pennsylvania this fall.

Innovative Tuition Financing Startup Launches

Grit, a Techstars and OHUB backed multi-stack funding platform that democratizes fundability and amplifies the unfair advantages of millions of under-tapped, underestimated Americans to thrive in rapid skills training, in demand tech careers, entrepreneurship and beyond, will announce its call for applications for Batch 1.0 during a launch event on Saturday, March 20th, 6P CT at OHUB’s House of Racial Equity. Students accepted into bootcamps approved by Grit and Leif are eligible to apply for an innovative income sharing agreement funded by Grit’s investors. Participating bootcamps are Kingsland University, Momentum Learning and Victory Lap.

“As a bootcamp grad who learned that over 90% of the adult learners in my cohort were denied for market rate income sharing agreements, I became compelled to work on a solution with my co-founders,” says Tina Page, Cofounder and Chief Legal Officer, Grit. “ISAs can be viewed as a tool to help students pay for their upskilling and thereby create their own opportunities. But if a willingness to pay for your own opportunity (and, in some cases, pay up to double or triple the cost of bootcamp tuition) still isn’t enough, the folks are locked out based on criteria that has absolutely nothing to do with their talent, ability, character, resilience, diligence, grind or grit.”

Black Wealth Creation Initiative

Official Bank of OHUB

First Boulevard, a new Black founded, owned and operated digital bank that has just raised $5 million in seed funding from Barclays, Anthemis and a group of angel investors such as actress Gabrielle Union, Union Square Ventures’ John Buttrick and AutoZone CFO Jamere Jackson will become the “Official Bank of the Opportunity Hub Ecosystem”. Together, First Boulevard and OHUB will work to create a national Black entrepreneurship support program, accelerator, funding platform and investor readiness initiative for members of the extended OHUB ecosystem that commit to become customers of the bank.

OHUB’s Chairman & CEO, Rodney Sampson, will join First Boulevard as a Senior Advisor and will work with the founders to develop key partnerships with Black ecosystem builders, business associations, faith based organizations and beyond throughout the nation.

“We’re excited to join forces with OHUB and Rodney. We believe this innovative approach to education, entrepreneurial ecosystem building and reciprocity will resonate with the Black community and our allies; and will accelerate our position as a trusted digital banking platform at the intersection of innovation, culture and capital,” says Donald Hawkins and Asya Bradley, Co-founders of First Boulevard.

The bank’s Cash Back for Buying Black™ program helps members earn up to 15% cash back when they spend money at Black-owned businesses.

“For six years, OHUB has leveraged SXSW as a platform and backdrop to launch new partnerships, initiatives and lifelong friendships designed to live beyond the moment of the density of excitement and imagination. A year later after SXSW was cancelled due to the onset of the global pandemic, we returned as a force of opportunity by organizing our largest virtual student cohort to date. Our team worked tirelessly to position ourselves to continue our tradition of launching game-changing collaborations and partnerships with our co-conspirators in this work toward parity and true racial justice at the intersection of Blackness and the fourth industrial revolution. This year, I am proud to announce that our launch of the OHUB X Austin Equity District, acquisition of The Fortress Academy, launch of Grit and first of its kind partnership with First Boulevard Bank are the most synergistic, symbiotic and exciting to date”, says Rodney Sampson, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Opportunity Hub. “Let’s get to work; and let’s make history together!”


Alicia Weigel