WILMINGTON – Two new partnerships aim to engage Delaware’s middle school-age girls in learning about technology and also assist minority entrepreneurs, which could help diversify the sector’s future workforce.
First State Fintech Lab (FSFL), a Wilmington-based nonprofit dedicated to growing the financial technology sector in Delaware, and TechGirlz, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that aims to engage young girls in potential technology careers through free workshops, announced a new initiative that they hope helps disrupt the male-dominated world of information technology.
The partnership, announced Dec. 11 during the second annual First State Fintech Forum held at the Chase Center, will build a fintech-focused curriculum and series of workshops designed to inspire middle school girls in Delaware to pursue careers in financial technology. To aid that effort, TechGirlz will hire a full-time employee to oversee the growing Delaware program.
The first TechGirlz fintech-focused workshop is expected to be held within the first half of 2020, with three additional workshops afterward, each supported by on-site FSFL staff members.
The relationship with FSFL will provide TechGirlz with a foundation to expand its reach in Delaware and grow its industry-specific workshop content, adding financial technology to a growing roster of robotics, gaming, digital design, podcasting, and other workshop themes.
“The program is envisioned to help fill the growing number of open fintech jobs in Delaware by training the next generation of female technologists,” said Meghan Wallace, FSFL co-founder, of the financial technology-specific programming for middle school girls that will combined technology training and financial literacy education. “By engaging early with young women and providing them with a path to rewarding careers in the fintech industry, we can build a more diverse financial technology ecosystem and provide greater access to opportunities.”
Meanwhile, FSFL also announced that it was partnering with the Wilmington-based First Founder’s Accelerator, the state’s first startup boot camp preparing under-represented entrepreneurs.
Founded by University of Delaware graduate Garry Johnson last year, the accelerator graduated eight entrepreneurs from a 12-week program last spring, which paired them with mentors and provided training on small business.
Johnson, who created the accelerator to help small business owners get access to capital, has been traveling around the country to make connections in the fintech industry ever since. Some of the mentors he secured for his program came from accelerators and investment firms in New York like the Dorm Room Fund and First Round Capital and some investors in Samsung NEXT in Silicon Valley.
Now boasting a first cohort of graduates, Johnson said that he wanted to expand his impact in the community. Many of the companies that are serving under-represented populations in Delaware, such as True Access Capital and Stepping Stones Federal Credit Union in Wilmington, don’t have access to great tech tools, he explained.
“We want to challenge our entrepreneurs to develop solutions that help increase their impact,” he said. “We really want to show the world what Delaware is all about.”
By Jacob Owens