By Nancy Dahlberg

General Assembly and Black Valley Digital are partnering with Broward County Library on a new program to expand tech and digital skills for Broward small business owners. Its Built In Broward initiative is a year-long program financed by a sizable Google grant and aimed at establishing a pathway into tech for underserved minorities.

The Built In Broward project kicks off on September 10th with the first online workshop: How To Kick start your Freelancing Career 101. As a part of this initiative, global education company General Assembly, which expanded to South Florida 10 months ago, will be hosting workshops in coding, data analytics, data science, digital marketing, sales, UX and visual design and career development – for free to Broward residents.

“It’s the first time that General Assembly is going to be able to provide free workshops all year long and really focus the efforts on founders, solopreneurs and freelancers from underrepresented communities and in Broward County,”  said Cari Perez, General Assembly’s Community Manager in South Florida. “This will allow us to have an impact not just in Miami but all of South Florida. I really want to grow our efforts and make sure that our programs are even more accessible.”

While General Assembly handles tech skill acquisition, Black Valley Digital, led by Ryan Hall, will be training entrepreneurs to monetize those newly acquired skills. Black Valley Digital, a Miami-based minority-owned educational and digital marketing agency whose mission is to teach 10,000 diverse minority entrepreneurs, artists, and business owners to thrive and generate wealth within the innovation economy, will host several 12-week incubator programs for service-based tech entrepreneurs to teach them how to create sustainable service-based/freelance business models, price their services, and acquire customers.

“I realized this was a huge opportunity to fill a gap in the business training market,” said Hall, who invited Perez to join the project. “Our aim is to build a clear pipeline and pathway for people who are trying to enter the Broward tech talent pool and help them service the community here and around the U.S., especially because a lot of business need these skills and have realized  being online is essential to their survival now.”

Workshop hosted (pre-Covid) by Black Valley Digital at VentureCafe.

Hall was able to quickly start a business and find his first client two days after losing his job last year, but he knows that many residents don’t have the tech or entrepreneurship skills to do so. In addition to his free incubator and the GA workshops, the program will also include monthly meetups, mentorship sessions and office hours.

The first Built In Broward meetup kicked off at Venture Café last week (photo at top of post). It brought together many of the leaders in Broward tech’s ecosystem, including Cecil Kidd of TechLauderdale, Daryl Perez-Rosenbaum of the Office of Economic and Small Business Development, Tim Hasse of General Provision, Marc Lisade of Startup Broward, Shaheewa Jarret Gelin of the Broward Black Chamber, and Gregory Johnson of Code for South Florida, among others.

Broward County Library was selected as one of just 13 public libraries around the country to receive funding from the Libraries Build Business (LLB) program, an initiative of the American Library Association funded by Google.org, said Sheldon Burke, Librarian Senior at the Broward County Library and Built in Broward’s program coordinator.

“When we applied for the Libraries Build Business grant, we wanted to empower our library and our community partners with more tools to tackle the 21st century digital divide — lack of representation and opportunities in tech for underrepresented groups,” Burke said. 

Meanwhile, Built In Broward is just one of the initiatives General Assembly has become involved in since expanding to South Florida late last year. GA Miami has ongoing partnerships with CIC Miami, Venture Café, General Provision, TechLauderdale, Palm Beach Tech and Miami-Dade Beacon Council, among others.

High school girls learning UX and Data Science show off projects in a GA class in partnership with CodeArt.

“The last three weeks have been the busiest,” Perez said. “We just launched MiamiTech.Works with the Beacon Council. It’s an initiative we are very much behind.” [Read more about MiamiTech.Works, a one-stop-shop for tech jobs, upskilling training and career coaching, here.]

Also new: GA Miami has run classes in digital marketing, coding and product management in Spanish. “Our campus is the first one out of the 36 GA campuses that hosts classes in Spanish because we understand that creating an experience that is truly inclusive starts with language.”

Perez said in the past 10 months, 50 South Florida students have already taken full-time and part-time GA courses, and GA has seen a huge demand for data science in particular. In addition, 4,000 people have participated in  GA’s workshops and events.  Find out more about classes and workshops here: ga.co/Miami.

A General Assembly Miami Digital Marketing Growth Metrics class (pre-Covid) for Latina women who are freelancers or solopreneurs was run exclusively in Spanish.

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter and email her at ndahlbergbiz@gmail.com

Nancy Dahlberg
Follow me