Haggman helps build economic foundation

Haggman helps build economic foundation

Behind every successful movement, there has to be money. The federal, state and city courts paved the legal way to equal rights. Martin Luther King Jr. and others formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference after the Montgomery bus boycott. Boycotts send the message that Blacks have some amount of economic power.

To propel the modern civil rights movement, the next phase has to be economic justice and support. Matt Haggman, program director of the Knight Foundation, holds the purse strings to millions of dollars, some of which he uses to support our community’s pursuit of economic freedom.

Under Haggman’s leadership of Knight’s Miami program, the foundation has invested in a host of projects that have had an impact on the Black community: from events that connect Miami’s community of entrepreneurs and bridge divides to those that support emerging talent, attract investments, and expand opportunity.

“The focus of Knight’s Miami program is to support our city’s emerging community of entrepreneurs and startups as a way to secure important community benefits including: a stronger sense of place and possibility, increased talent retention, a bigger network of problem-solvers and expanded opportunities,” said Haggman.

“Essential to this goal is supporting ideas and people that represent our diversity. Black entrepreneurs are playing a leading role in growing Miami’s innovation ecosystem. Backing programs that foster and propel the work of current and emerging Black innovators is critical to making Miami more of a place where ideas are built.”

Some of the programs that have specifically targeted Black entrepreneurs, include:

Black Tech Week: The first-ever Black Tech Week will bring together Black innovators, entrepreneurs and investors in Miami from Feb. 23-28.

NewMe: Knight brought the first NewMe Popup accelerator in the country to Miami in 2012 and supported its return in 2013 and 2014. NewMe helps entrepreneurs from groups who are underrepresented in tech, with a particular focus on the Black community.

Code Fever: Founded by Miami couple Felecia Hatcher and Derick Pearson, Code Fever aims to close the technology education gap among low-income neighborhoods across Miami with a particular focus on the Black community. 

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship: This program helps students in underserved Miami neighborhoods build entrepreneurship and technology skills. 

Girls Who Code: Knight brought the Girls Who Code program to Miami with a particular focus on attracting students from underserved communities.

Idea Center: Knight supported the launch of Miami Dade College’s Idea Center, a innovation and entrepreneurship hub, with one of its largest Miami program grants (about $2 million). The college graduates primarily Black and Hispanic students.