All Articles Tagged "Kathryn Finney"
Kathryn Finney, known as “The Budget Fashionista” and founder/managing director of digitalUNdivided (DID), was selected by the White House as a “Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion,” a program that honors people connecting youth — particularly people of color and women — with technology. DID is a social enterprise that fights to establish more minority presence on the web and other digital outlets. The name for the organization stems from the term “Digital Divide”, which describes the technology rift between the wealthy and the poor in the same country.
This year’s State of the Union address noted that more graduates should be immersing themselves in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Students in these areas — developers, engineers, and other innovators — will be the “driving force towards making the United States competitive, creative, and innovative,” a White House press release stated. Finney’s work in broadening the participation of underrepresented communities in STEM has caught the eye of President Barack Obama himself.
Sure technology and computing power has become cheaper, which has closed the divide quite a bit. But “we are eager consumers, we are not digital producers,” Major Carter Group said in an article about DID published last year. Minorities are buying, but not creating. The real divide lies in employment between White and Black employees for technology positions.
“Roughly one third of Twitter users are Black, yet less than 1 percent of Twitter employees can say the same,” added the Major Carter Group. This picture is representative of many large digital corporations today. Funding for starting digital businesses among Black and Women are scarce and our “percentage of the general population is not reflected in the number of tech-industry jobs,” it added.
Major rifts like this one has inspired Finney to narrow the gap and hence, come up with digitalUNdivided, to “fundamentally change the digital space by increase the number of urban digital entrepreneurs,” DID says.
“Digital Undivided has reached over 1 million people via impact focused targeted online and offline activities,” according to a press statement about Finney’s White House recognition.
Three years ago, Finney was named the one of the Top Women in Money by AOL with Suze Orman and Maria Shriver. Finney was honored with 10 other digital pioneers to receive the White House Champion of Change designation. Other honorees include Deena Pierott, founder and executive director of iUrban Teen Tech and Developers for Good.
Click here to see the honorary ceremony.
Kathryn Finney has seen the power of technology and its ability to change people’s lives. When her father decided to go back to school as an adult and transition to the technology field, she saw how it changed the entire trajectory of her family. He eventually became an engineer and worked at Microsoft.
Despite having grown up around computers, Finney didn’t go to college for engineering or computer science. She studied political science and women’s studies, and then epidemiology in graduate school. But in 2003, Finney started blogging as The Budget Fashionista, one of the first fashion blogs, which led to a book deal with Random House and appearances on the Today show, among others.
Again, she saw her life change because of technology. And now, as the founder of digitalUNdivided, she hopes to bring that type of change to others’ lives.
“Seeing the impact technology has had on me, and my experiences, and knowing how powerful it is to change the fortune of a family, I was and am interested in doing more,” Finney told MadameNoire.
As part of a tech incubator in 2007, she experienced the preconceived notions and prejudices that people in the technology industry had against women, and especially black women.
“It wasn’t about if my idea was bad or that no one was going to buy it. It had nothing to do with the idea or my skill set,” she admitted. “That idea stuck with me, about how the deck was stacked against us.”
So in 2012, Finney started digitalUNdivided, an organization designed to increase the number of black and Latino women in the technology space, and led its kickoff tentpole event, FOCUS 100. The event brought together technology innovators and investors of color, and featured 50 startup companies with at least one black female founder.
“We searched high and low,” she said. “We send emails to Carnegie Mellon’s outpost in Uganda. We went everywhere and asked everyone, if you know a black woman who has a tech company, send her our way.”
The event, held in early October 2012, was a success, and digitalUNdivided was off and running, with even more events planned for 2013. The organization currently has monthly Meetup groups in New York, Chicago, Detroit, the Bay Area, and will launch DC this year.
DigitalUNdivided is also hosting events in April in Atlanta and Detroit designed to get people started as digital entrepreneurs, not just with full-fledged companies, but also more side project-type activities.
“We believe there are tech opportunities out there, from being a blog to building your own mobile app, that may not be necessarily investment-worthy, but can have a huge impact fundamentally on your life,” Finney explained. “If your family is able to generate $30,000 or $40,000 extra because you wrote a blog, that is a major impact on our community.”
To celebrate her new book Profit With Purpose: A Marketer’s Guide to Delivering Purpose-Driven Campaigns to Multicultural Audiences, author and EGAMI Consulting Group founder Teneshia Jackson Warner teamed up with Dinner With Bevy‘s Bevy Smith for a dinner party/awards ceremony/”discotheque” (Smith’s word) at New York’s Beauty & Essex. The soiree was also focused on the cause-related work of the night’s honorees: P&G’s program My Black is Beautiful; Budget Fashionista and founder of digitalundivided (DID), Kathryn Finney; Black Girls Rock! founder Beverly Bond; celebrity stylist and host of ABC World News’ Cause Celeb with Phillip Bloch, Phillip Bloch; Disney’s Dreamers Academy, a program working in partnership with Essence and Steve Harvey to help high school students reach their career goals; and chef/reality TV star Chef Roble.
We’re going to have more from Warner about cause marketing and her book later this week. But the need for good works in the world is strong enough that we wanted to give the awards ceremony its own little shout out.
The 2012 Purpose Awards Dinner (#profitwithpurpose) was meant, according to the evening’s program, to celebrate with “a night of purpose” and “continue to drive the conversation.” The evening highlighted the social responsibility initiatives of the honorees, and the innovative approach with which they’re tackling their businesses, organizations, or passion projects.
When accepting his award, Bloch said, “When someone shines a light, we all shine a little brighter,” speaking to why it’s important for everyone to do what they can and then cheer that work to take it even further.
But before the accolades, one has to get started. In her acceptance speech, Bond said she only wanted to make a cool t-shirt when she started. Today, Black Girls Rock! has a televised awards ceremony that uplifts not just young girls, but women also.
When presenting the award, Warner thanked Bond for answering her calling. “We’re so happy that you said yes,” said Warner.
“We’re all connected and we’re all affected,” said Bond during her acceptance speech.
And if that wasn’t enough, there was good food, good music (Talib Kweli was DJing, with Bond jumping into the booth for a few minutes), and cocktails aplenty. Party with a purpose…
A day at the spa with your girls, tickets to a hot show, dinner at a chichi restaurant. All sounds great, but a budget buster, right? Not necessarily. Savvy sisters can hit the scene even when funds are all tied up by signing up with sites geared to the diva who loves a deal.
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