CHICAGO, May 23, 2023- 1871 has opened applications for their 5th cohort of BLKtech Founders, an affinity program designed to support and amplify Black early-stage founders and their startups. Applications for both 1871 members and non-members will be accepted through June 26th, 2023. 

Starting July 2023, this unique offering runs for twelve weeks, combining professional development curriculum, 1:1 mentoring, and peer group development programming.

The cohort is designed to create a safe, judgment-free space for Black founders to meet others in similar entrepreneurial situations to connect and address the unique challenges they face due to their social identity.

The program will run from 7.11.23 – 9.12.23, meeting virtually every Tuesday from 3:00 – 5:00 PM CST. 

BLKtech Founders C5 is proudly supported by general partners Molson Coors, EY, Verizon, William Blair, and Food Foundry

“This program focuses on you, as the founder which is essential to starting a successful business but is often overlooked. Our personal and professional development sessions help you to overcome common scenarios and roadblocks that, unfortunately, inevitably, happen to Black founders. It also instills in you a sense of pride in what makes you unique, not minimize it” said Alysha Aubrey Bursey, Sr. Director of Affinity Programs. “The beauty of these cohorts is that when you log into that Zoom, everyone looks like you, you can be your full self. It allows people to open up and breaks down that wall that underrepresented groups tend to put up for survival. Because of this, the people that you meet within the cohort are going to be rallying behind you forever, regardless of if your company makes it or not.” 

About the experience

Key takeaways for participants in the program: 

  • Learn how to maximize their key leadership skills
  • Gain confidence in themselves and their startups 
  • Overcome obstacles one faces when starting a business
  • Build reputable relationships with experienced founders and 1871 members who are dedicated to supporting this group. 

“Participating in the 1871 BLKtech Founders cohort helped me personally and professionally by providing access to a network of entrepreneurs who were facing some of the mental and emotional challenges that I was facing, especially while navigating through the pandemic and the ever-rising racial tensions that have emerged over the last year,” said Tanisha Hemphill, Founder of Black Mom Resource. “It felt good to have a space where we could share resources and regularly check in with each other. 

Important Dates

 If you would like to learn more about sponsoring BLKtech Founders or any other affinity-related program, reach out to  

About 1871

1871 is Chicago’s innovation hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support early stage, growth stage and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~400 technology startups, ~200 growth stage companies, and ~1,500 members, and is supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. The member experience includes virtual and in person access to workshops, events, mentorship, and more. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its members, alongside access to more than 200 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 850 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 14,500 jobs, and have raised more than $3.5 billion in follow-on capital.

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