Meet the 10 Young Companies Putting a Diverse Face on Technology in Tampa Bay

via. Tampa Bay Business Journal

Castor, D-Tampa, was among those on hand for the kickoff of the Tampa Bay Wave’s latest TechDiversity accelerator, a 90-day program designed for early-stage companies owned, controlled and operated by a minority, woman, veteran, or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person.

The program is supported by the Nielsen Foundation, which awarded $100,000 to Wave, a nonprofit that houses and supports tech startups. It’s one of the first diversity accelerators and one of the first corporate foundation-backed accelerators, said Rich Heruska, Wave’s interim accelerator director.

Wave is one of several groups areawide that works to bolster entrepreneurs and the tech industry, bringing high-skill and high-wage jobs to the community.


In Just Six Months of Operation, Kelley's Company Blended Designs Saw $250,000 in Sales

Via. Jacksonville Business Journal By Dahlia Ghabour  – Reporter

Last March, Casey Kelley’s 9-year-old son Carter took her to dinner and pitched her an idea: he wanted a bag with his face on it. He would wear it to school and put his books in it, he said, and everyone would love it.


Kelley, who was taking a leave of absence from a consumer insights and analytics job and working only on her “side hustle” selling tote bags and T-shirts, decided to look into the data of children’s backpack availability. She found that less than two percent of the backpacks available featured children of color.

“I never thought about it, even though I am a parent of a child of color,” Kelley said. “I was buying Olaf, Captain America. It never crossed my mind.” Kelley, 46, took up her son’s idea.

The first two bags featured Carter and a friend’s daughter Zoe, both wearing black T-shirts emblazoned with white words: “I can do anything.” She posted the bags on Facebook on March 27, 2017 – and they went viral. Read more. 

Christine McFaul Speaks to Students about Leadership

Christine McFaul, PS27's Media Advisor, spoke to the University of North Florida Taylor Leadership Institute students about leadership at their 4th Annual Taylor Talks event. 

Students in attendance learned about leadership skills like having confidence, a continued growth mindset and using teamwork to be successful.  

Founder Casey Kelley of Blended Designs partners with Big Sean and the Big Sean Foundation to bring backpacks to students!


Via. Sean Anderson Foundation

Our partnership with Project Knapsack allows for students at Bates to be united with the Molalatladi Primary School in Soweto, South Africa. Through forging pen pal relationships, this program fosters a meaningful cultural exchange on both ends.

This year, these students were surprised with the added bonus of having Blended Designs sponsor their backpack donation. Adorned with words and images of affirmation meant to inspire and uplift young people of color, Blended Designs has begun a wonderful movement across the United States, and for more information on this company and/or our partnership with Project Knapsack, please visit the links below.

Sean Anderson Foundation’s “Project Knapsack Partnership Page”

Blended Designs

Blended Designs Wins FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

 Casey Kelley, Founder of Blended Designs, encourages kids to “Think Outside the Box”.

Casey Kelley, Founder of Blended Designs, encourages kids to “Think Outside the Box”.

After over 7,800 entries and more than 665,000 votes cast, Blended Designs was chosen as a winner for the 2018 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

The two phase contest by FedEx included one round where 100 companies were chosen based on the number of votes that were given to the small businesses. During the second round Kelley was required to create a 5 minute video describing her passion.

“We thought about how the back to school category lacks representation for people of color. We also wanted it tied to education,” said Kelley. “Earlier this year, we made the decision to call the line 1954™️ to pay homage to the landmark Supreme Court decision on May 17, 1954. Over the past few weeks, we have learned so much about Brown vs. Board of Education. When they [FedEx] called to tell me that I had won, they talked to me about 1954 and how endearing it was to them because they are headquartered in Memphis.”

 Carter Mitchell (age 9) and Ella Weaver (age 10) stop for a quick photo while walking home from school with their Blended Designs backpacks.

Carter Mitchell (age 9) and Ella Weaver (age 10) stop for a quick photo while walking home from school with their Blended Designs backpacks.

Now all their hard work has paid off.  To support Blended Designs visit or search ‘Blended Designs’ on Amazon.  Blended Designs is on Amazon Prime and they offer 2-Day shipping.

Congratulations to Casey Kelley and her team for this awesome win! 

PS27 Ventures' Jim Stallings discusses minority-owned businesses on the First Coast

Via Junior Skepple, Reporter, Jacksonville Business Journal

Jim Stallings, managing partner of PS27 Ventures LLC, was the keynote speaker at the recent African American Business Forum provided a message of hope for business owners on the First Coast.

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The event, coordinated by the Business Journal, featured a panel of five of the First Coast's top Black executives in addition to Stallings' keynote speech.

PS27 Ventures provides venture capital and advisory services to entrepreneurs at the critical early stages of their business.

Think big, the world is changing, you have to start by proving yourself in the place that you are right now.
— Jim Stallings

Continue reading at

African-American Business Forum Inspires Student Leaders

The 5000 Role Models aims to intervene in the lives of minority male youth and provide them with positive role models & experiences. Jim Stallings of PS27 was the Keynote at the Jacksonville Business Journal African-American Business Forum.

5000 Role Model students were in the audience at the event and presented Stallings with an honorary tie. Student were encouraged to "Think Big," and "Start Small" PS27's motto.