Startup Institute Is Improving Diversity in Tech with a New Scholarship

This article first appeared in BostInno


The Startup Institute has taken another step to improve diversity in the tech industry, and it's doing so this time with the help of Uber.

These organizations announced on Thursday that two new $5,000 diversity scholarships sponsored by Uber will be available starting this summer for the Startup Institute's full-time program.

At $5,000 per award, the Uber Scholarship for Underrepresented People in Tech would cover a majority of the $7,500 cost of the Startup Institute's full-time program, which includes tracks for technical marketing, web development, web design and sales and account management.

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The Startup Institute will decide which two applicants from underrepresented communities receive the scholarship based on financial need and if they get accepted into the program, Startup Institute CEO Diane Hessan told BostInno. She added that the scholarship money could be used to give out awards to as many as five people depending on how many applications they receive.

"We are obsessive about creating diverse classes — meaning diverse in gender, race and age," Hessan said in an email,

Our belief is that if our classes are diverse, then our alumni will be out in the community knowing the value of diversity.

Improving diversity in tech has been a founding principle for the Startup Institute, Hessan said, and it permeates "every decision we make." Since 2012, nearly 1,300 people have gone through its programs, with 41 percent of them women and 35 percent of them people of color — figures the Startup Institute said are higher than the national average.

Breaking the figures down further for the Startup Institute's racial diversity, 10 percent of alumni have been Asian, another 10 percent African American, 7 percent Hispanic or Latino and an additional 8 percent did not specify race.

"Diverse teams are more creative, and build better products. As an institution that is directly supplying the Boston innovation community with talent, we want our student body to reflect how the world looks," Allan Telio, VP and Boston program director for Startup Institute, said. "I take our responsibility to changing the face of the industry very seriously."

Other diversity initiatives by the Startup Institute include partnerships with organizations that have a diversity agenda — such as Girl Develop It and Resilient Coders — and the recently announced Startup Institute Fellowship for Underrepresented People in Tech that gives another financial opportunity for diverse students.