May 24, 2021
We want to serve as a resource. To keep you abreast of critical issues dominating the national discourse—including diversity, equity and inclusion; the digital divide; STEAM education; entrepreneurship and small business—we’re compiling timely news and information in one place because the first step to fixing a problem is understanding it.
T.D. Jakes Foundation in Action
The T.D. Jakes Foundation congratulates our very own President & CEO Hattie Hill, an honoree of the Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. Find out more details about the 17th Annual event here.
Did you participate in this year’s International Leadership Summit (ILS) Virtual Experience? If so, don’t forget to mark your calendars for next year, when ILS will return in person at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on March 31-April 2, 2022! Click here to register early!
Today, in the United States, there are approximately 2.6 million Black-owned businesses—a number that has risen by more than 30 percent in the past decade. Click here to visit the T.D. Jakes Foundation’s helpful resource guide to learn how to support Black-owned businesses.
Small Business Updates
Though the federal government said it is now okay for those who are fully vaccinated to ditch their masks indoors, Main Street business owners are likely to continue to request that everyone wear them. Having had to pivot relentlessly to accommodate ever-changing pandemic restrictions, independent shop-and-restaurant owners must now thread a very fine needle between the need for safety and revenue and the desire to accommodate vaccinated customers who have a newfound sense of freedom. Read more from CNN.
In a recent interview, Isabel Guzman, administrator for the Small Business Administration stated that billions of dollars are still available for minority-owned and small businesses. Find out more information about what is still available here.
The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. companies of all sizes are struggling to fill jobs as surging demand and a reluctant labor force have resulted in a shortage of available workers. Some of the smallest firms said they are feeling acute pain because they have fewer people to pick up the slack and can’t easily match the pay increases, benefits and other perks that larger companies are offering to fill openings. The situation is only expected to become more difficult for small business owners moving forward.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Fortune 500 firms have been scrambling to hire chief diversity officers in response to racial justice protests in the year since George Floyd’s death — but just filling that seat isn’t enough. Axios reports that, according to experts, firms will have to figure out the role of CDO if they want to attract new talent and customers.
Inequality in the U.S. is worsening by many measures — especially when it comes to employment. Driving the news: The Job Quality Index (JQI), a measurement of “high” to “low quality” jobs in the U.S. private sector, has fallen from 81.1 in 2007 to 80.5 last year. Read more here.
HP recently announced a series of ambitious goals aimed at driving “a more diverse, equitable and inclusive” tech industry. The three goals that HP says it is determined to achieve by 2030: 50/50 gender equality in HP leadership (defined as director level and up); greater than 30% technical women and women in engineering; and meet or exceed labor market representation for racial/ethnic minorities. Read more about their plans here.
Bridging Digital Divide
The broadband revolution has long bypassed rural America, but the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a digital divide that has long kept communities beyond metropolitan areas from fully joining the 21st century economy. In urban areas, workers shifted to Zoom meetings, businesses cranked up e-commerce offerings, and schools went virtual. The transition for their rural counterparts proved far more difficult. Read more in the Houston Chronicle.
President Biden and Vice President Harris are soliciting bipartisan support for their sweeping infrastructure proposal, which aims to expand access to high-speed internet for all Americans, among other efforts. On June 2, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings will host a webinar to discuss the Biden administration’s broadband infrastructure proposal. Panelists will explore the economic and political challenges to building and activating futureproof broadband networks across the United States. Will the proposed down payment on America’s broadband networks be enough to accelerate universal connectivity? How will it expand access in rural areas and to the nation’s most impoverished communities? Click here to register for the webcast.
Tech Takes Center Stage
The most popular vehicle in the United States is going electric. Ford has revealed the F-150 Lightning, an all-electric version of its popular pickup truck due out in 2022, and it’s aggressively priced for an EV. The base model, with 230 miles of range, starts at $39,974, while the extended range version starts in the mid-$50,000s and can go about 300 miles. Read more on The Verge.
Virgin Galactic took a step closer to completing development of its space tourism system on Saturday, successfully flying its first spaceflight in more than two years. The company’s spacecraft, named VSS Unity, was carried up to an altitude of about 44,000 feet by a carrier aircraft called VMS Eve. The aircraft then released the spacecraft, which fired its rocket engine and accelerated to more than three times the speed of sound.
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