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1871 and the Chicago Urban League Announce Innovative Partnership to Foster Diversity in Entrepreneurship


Partnership supported by HERE, Lenovo and Quaker allows Chicago Urban League and 1871 to identify and support African American technology entrepreneurs, designers and developers; foster programming and networking opportunities; and encourage startup businesses.

CHICAGO (November 20, 2014)—1871 joined the Chicago Urban League today to announce a partnership agreement that will support African American entrepreneurs and foster diversity in the technology industry. The partnership agreement formalizes the existing and growing relationship between 1871 and the Chicago Urban League, who have been working together to identify and facilitate opportunities in the technology and entrepreneurial communities for underrepresented individuals. These opportunities will be funded in part by HERE, Lenovo and Quaker, all of whom recently announced donations to support diversity initiatives at 1871.

“Ensuring that we develop a diverse workforce is absolutely critical to expanding innovation and entrepreneurship throughout Chicago,” said 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. “1871 is constantly working to attract and develop top talent by facilitating opportunities within the 1871 community for underrepresented entrepreneurs and technology professionals as part of a concerted effort to create opportunities and jobs for all of the neighborhoods in the city.”

“The Chicago Urban League is thrilled to partner with 1871 to empower emerging and existing African American entrepreneurs with this innovative opportunity that can help launch, grow and sustain their businesses,” said Andrea L. Zopp, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.

The Chicago Urban League will work with 1871 to identify promising African American technology business owners, designers and developers, who will be eligible for partially sponsored 1871 memberships funded by corporate partners and other donations. These opportunities will allow underserved individuals to simultaneously benefit from 1871, the Chicago Urban League, and their corporate partners through a combination of funding, mentorship and other resources.

“Diversity has been a key ingredient for business success at Lenovo,” said Yolanda Conyers, Vice President, Global HR Operations and Chief Diversity Officer, Lenovo. “We are committed to building on our already strong culture of inclusion and are proud to work with 1871 and the Chicago Urban League by providing financial support for underrepresented individuals to make a noticeable impact in the Chicago technology community.”

“As a company with a proud history in Chicago, we’re delighted to be able to support this initiative,” said Denise Doyle, Senior Vice President at HERE, a Nokia company. “We value the diversity we have in our own workforce, in this city and around the world and we’ve seen first-hand how diversity can drive innovation. We applaud 1871 and the Chicago Urban League for their efforts and wish them every success.”

1871 will also work to create a next-generation “tech toolkit” to be distributed to neighborhood schools, which will help students understand the basics of entrepreneurship and technology development. Using platform technologies and free applications such as MagicTags, the kit will enable students to work with their peers to develop sample products and services, build apps that are immediately employable in their communities, and access a direct pipeline to careers in high-tech entrepreneurship.

“As Chicago’s technology economy continues to grow and evolve, it is important that opportunities are made available to all Chicago residents, and that the technology community reflects the diversity of the City,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This partnership between 1871 and the Chicago Urban League will help to bring more diversity to this expanding area and push forward innovative new technologies that will help drive Chicago’s economy into the future.”

In addition to sponsoring 1871 memberships and developing the technology toolkit, 1871’s partnership agreement with the Chicago Urban League will foster diversity in the technology community in the following ways:

  • 1871 and the Chicago Urban League will continue to identify and recruit underserved individuals to apply for scholarships to attend coding classes.
  • 1871 will utilize its in-house recruiter to foster employment opportunities for the African American community by connecting potential employees identified by the Chicago Urban League to 1871 member companies seeking to make new hires.
  • The Chicago Urban League and 1871 will identify startups founded by African American college students and recruit those businesses to join 1871’s various programs for college students.
  • The Chicago Urban League and 1871 will host joint networking events in the 1871 space for the African American technology community.
  • The Chicago Urban League and 1871 will identify and recruit African American leaders in business, marketing, technology and entrepreneurship to become 1871 mentors.

1871 and the Chicago Urban League will continue to develop this partnership by identifying and implementing new methods of supporting African American entrepreneurs, professionals, and students in the technology community. Recently, the two organizations joined to identify and support candidates for scholarships to take coding classes with Startup Institute Chicago’s eight-week, full-time program.

About the Chicago Urban League

Established in 1916, the Chicago Urban League works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans and promotes strong sustainable communities through advocacy, collaboration and innovation. For more information, visit

About 1871

1871 is an entrepreneurial incubator for digital startups. Home to over 300 companies, the 75,000-square-foot facility in The Merchandise Mart provides Chicago startups with programming, access to mentors, educational resources, potential investors and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that help them on their path to building successful businesses. Recently ranked 9th in the world in the 2014 UBI Index list of top university-associated business incubators, 1871 has become a global leader in the entrepreneurial community. 1871 is the flagship project of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.