Kapors pledge $40 million investment in tech diversity

Kapors pledge $40 million investment in tech diversity

Mitch Kapor and wife Freada Kapor Klein will invest $40 million over three years in a set of initiatives designed to give women and underrepresented minorities a better shot at becoming technology entrepreneurs.

The longtime Silicon Valley diversity advocates will make the announcement Tuesday during the first White House Demo Day which will showcase technologies from the nation’s diverse entrepreneurs and kick off a new initiative to bring greater diversity to the tech world.

“Genius is evenly distributed across zip codes. Access and opportunity are not,” Mitch Kapor said in a statement. “With this investment we’re doubling down on tech diversity because it’s good for individuals, communities and the economy as a whole.”

The investments will target tech education, access to capital and community institutions, the Kapors said.

Kapor Klein’s Level Playing Field Institute will invest $6 million to expand the SMASH (Summer Math and Science Honors) Academy, a five-week summer program in California for underrepresented students. SMASH recently finished its 12th summer.

Kapor Capital will make more than $25 million in investments in technology start-ups working to narrow the achievement gaps. At least half of the companies will have founders from underrepresented groups.

And the Kapor Center for Social Impact is pledging $3 million a year to promoting a more diverse tech ecosystem in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“We believe that our $40 million commitment will be a catalyst for others in the tech to match, so that a decade from now tech will look more like America,” Kapor Klein said.

The Kapors have been at the forefront of the push to create greater diversity in tech for decades. The push took on added urgency last year when Google revealed the demographics of its work force, prompting other major companies to follow suit. The statistics are sobering: Most workers employed by major tech companies are white and Asian men.

Mitch Kapor made his name and fortune founding the spreadsheet pioneer Lotus Development. Eager to make that Massachusetts-based company “a place where people who felt out of place, like me, would want to work,” he hired Freada Klein in the 1980s with the mandate to make it a welcoming work environment


1 Comment