What to Know
- The City Fellowship is a new entrepreneurship program by the NYCEDC and Company Ventures.
- Consisting of 16 entrepreneurs, the inaugural class consists of small businesses that highlight economic equity or climate action.
- The program lasts nine months and gives these business leaders government piloting opportunities, workforce development partnerships with CUNY, and other technological resources.
A new program called The City Fellowship aims to improve the lives of New York City residents by supporting Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and women-led small businesses.
New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and early-stage venture capital firm Company Ventures launched the program last month.
The inaugural class consists of 16 entrepreneurs whose companies highlight economic equity or climate action.
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"In the end, we were looking for folks who could really learn together. Who are representative of all the different communities around New York City working on an array of issues that seem pressing and urgent," Lindsay Siegel, Head of Impact and Managing Director of The City Fellowship at Company Ventures, told NBC New York.
Anthony Edwards Jr. and his wife, Janique, co-founded Eat Okra, an online platform that connects residents with Black-owned restaurants and food trucks.
According to Edwards Jr., the business is named after okra, a seed that was brought over during the slave trade to the Americas.
"My family hails from the south in Iota, Louisiana, and my wife is from Charleston, South Carolina. Okra is a vegetable that is commonly cooked in stews and gumbo. It has this sticky effect on food, and it brings about connection and binding. Eat Okra is really about bringing community together through food," said Anthony Edwards Jr. in an interview with News 4.
The Brooklyn couple is participating together in The City Fellowship program and hopes to expand their app, which already has over 400,000 downloads.
The program lasts nine months and gives these business leaders government piloting opportunities, workforce development partnerships with CUNY, and other technological resources.
Henry Obispo is the founder of Reborn Farms, located in the South Bronx. Through the fellowship, Obispo aims to bring in more of the public through educational tools.
"For example, there's a rooftop farm that is 10,000 square feet, and it is the first of its kind in the country because it's the only one of its kind in NYCHA Public Housing," Obispo shared.
Twenty-eight-year-old Aly Murray is the co-founder of a tech nonprofit called UPchieve, which provides free online tutoring and counseling for high school students.
Murray is a second-generation immigrant raised by a single mom from Cuba. With limited academic resources growing up, she took with her the passion for ensuring every student from low-income communities has the tools necessary for success.
"UPchieve is actually available across all 50 states, but we started here in New York City in Brooklyn, and we're really excited to see what would happen if we could get an entire city of students to realize this is a free service available to them," said Murray, who hopes to change what's included in the definition of public education.