(Bloomberg) -- To combat America’s systemic racism, Silicon Valley is doing what it does best: building a tech platform.
A new online database, called 100kPledge, will track individuals and organizations that commit anywhere from $100,000 to $100 million over 10 years to hire Black people, invest in Black-owned businesses or donate to causes supporting Black communities. An initial group of founding members — more than 130 professionals, including Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code — have pledged $140 million already.
“In the tech world, a lot of people want to help,” said Vijay Chattha, a founder of 100kPledge and chief executive of the brand strategy company VSC. “So I thought, what could I do as a professional or a small business owner?”
Anyone with a LinkedIn profile — and at least $100,000 — can sign on with 100kPledge; their commitments and affiliations are made public.
The project is targeting Black representation and wealth because systemic racism in the U.S. has long excluded Black communities from economic opportunity, creating a significant wealth gap. In 2016, the typical Black family had just 10% of the wealth of the typical White family, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
In addition to commitments on the site, 100kPledge aims to track public pledges by prominent individuals and organizations — like Twitter Inc.’s Jack Dorsey, who in August gave $10 million to the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, and Walmart Inc., which in June announced that it and its foundation would spend $100 million over five years through a new center on racial equity. At launch, the 100kPledge platform had recorded more than $3 billion in public pledges.
When it comes to social progress, said Chattha, “the U.S. has long relied on billionaires or the government.”
The 100kPledge site is run by a handful of volunteers and its three founders: Chattha; Paras Shah, strategy director at Different Strokes Creative; and Nihal Mehta, founding general partner at Eniac Ventures. It doesn’t transfer any money itself.
For now, 100kPledge is not holding individuals or organizations accountable for their pledges, but Mehta said the founders have considered adding a “progress meter” to track follow-through.
Bloomberg this year has published survey results of the largest U.S. public companies about their commitments on racial justice and employee diversity, while also comparing companies’ actions with their public statements.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.