Michigan Central, Newlab launch new fellowship for women and minorities in tech

What’s happening: Michigan Central and Newlab have partnered to launch the Founder Fellowship, a new program that intends to support tech startups with minority and female founders. Those selected will receive a $30,000 financial award and a suite of in-kind services and resources made available by Michigan Central, Ford Motor Company’s $1 billion Corktown mobility campus, and Newlab, the tech startup incubator located within said campus.

What it is: The Founder Fellowship will provide successful applicants with a $30,000 award, a one-year membership at Newlab, entrepreneurial programming and workshops, networking opportunities, access to investors, and more. The fellowship is made possible by the $500,000 Michigan Central Equitable Ecosystem Fund, which is supported by the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan through the Michigan Strategic Fund.

Who’s eligible: Fellowships are available to startup founders from a range of underrepresented communities, which, per a release from Michigan Central, can be interpreted to cover “race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, culture and economic experience.” The types of startups eligible for consideration include those in the fields of mobility, energy, and materials.

Click HERE to learn more about the application process.

The Michigan Central mobility campus in Corktown. (Photo by Stephen McGee / Courtesy of Michigan Central)

Why it’s important: “The statistics speak volumes: Women, Black and Latinx founders receive only a fraction of the venture capital funding compared to their white male counterparts. These underrepresented communities are confronted with systemic challenges that have not been adequately addressed by the traditional tech startup space,” says Katie Soven, head of membership for Newlab at Michigan Central.

A release from Michigan Central notes that approximately 50 percent of Newlab’s 47 startups have at least one founder who is a woman, Black, or Latinx. Soven continues: “Though 50 percent is a good start, more must be done to help shrink the gap by helping more founders not only enter the ecosystem but thrive in it. At Newlab, we are committed to dismantling these barriers and fostering an inclusive community that empowers all entrepreneurs to succeed.”

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.