Community Heroes: an in-depth series on the lives and impact of people giving back to our global communities.
Base Of Operations: South Bronx
Why she is a Community Hero: As the co-founder and CEO of StartUpBox.SouthBronx, Majora Carter connects communities of color to invest in the growing technology economy as producers of product and content, and not just as consumers.
Majora Carter’s upbringing in the tough urban environs of New York most certainly inspires her work as an urban revitalization strategist and real estate developer. With a long list of awards stemming from her work on green-infrastructure projects, related policies and an emphasis on providing job placement and training, Ms. Carter is living proof that coming from humble beginnings doesn’t mean one has to remain stagnant.
Carter’s organization, StartUpBox.SouthBronx, is, in her words, a “technology, educational and entrepreneurship program.”
She adds, “I wanted to help folks in low-income communities, and low-income communities of color in particular, to understand that they can be producers in the technology economy and not just consumers.”
A proud native of the South Bronx, Carter said of the famed borough that it is known as “the poster child for urban blight” and noting that crime, poverty and unemployment has long plagued the neighborhood. However, Carter combats those harrowing social barriers via her work.
“I like to challenge with real physical projects that this is a place where creativity [and] innovation has always lived, here like Hip-Hop, salsa,” explained Carter. “We have great opportunities to create more of that.”
Carter noted that two-thirds of communities of color have access to the Internet, mostly by way of smart-phones. She hopes to shift the tide of Blacks and Hispanics consuming information by turning them into producers of the technology and content available today.
Carter has seen measurable results in her quest to arm the community she services with the tools and training to compete in today’s fast-moving and globally-expansive technology wave. Her group recently went into a local high school and taught teenage students the basics of coding and entered into a partnership with Nickelodeon and their games division.
The students were part of a pilot program where they tested games for the company as part of its global quality assurance efforts. Carter mentioned that this entry-level job is typically done overseas, and gives the groups she aids via her organization an inside look into the world of software and gaming development.
Carter’s dynamic career is complete with several milestones. At the tail end of the 20th Century, she helped bring environmental awareness to her South Bronx community and helped spur green development. She went on to found Sustainable South Bronx in 2001, serving as its executive director until 2008. Carter also helms the Major Carter Group, which works on a variety of issues including the local economy, and helping citizens get the most out of tax-funded city services.
Keeping with her theme of building from within, Carter’s Twitter tag-line neatly ties all her philosophies into one neat bow: “You don’t have to leave your neighborhood to live better!”
Amen to that.