Alesia Bani

Philadelphia-based writer and reporter focusing on innovation, DEI and local news. 

Cheyney University Expands Research in Biotech with $5 Million in Funding for New Incubator

• Cheyney University of Pennsylvania is developing a biotech incubator project for cell and gene therapy research. • Pennsylvania awarded Cheyney University with a $5 million investment for the ThinkUbator project. • The ThinkUbator is an extension of the ongoing initiative to bring the operations of science-based companies to Cheyney. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the nation’s oldest Historically Black College and University (HBCU), is working to become a leader in biotechnology researc

HBCUs are Critical to Diversifying the Cybersecurity Workforce

Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE), a nonprofit coalition of corporations, government agencies and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), is launching a new initiative at four HBCUs to prepare a diverse pipeline of students for cybersecurity careers. The pilot will run through the end of the year at Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University and Virginia State University. AMIE plans to expand to its remaining 11 HBCU Sch

On The Road: The 6th Annual Roadmap to Billions Conference Presented by Black Women Talk Tech

Over 1,500 founders, investors and professionals ventured to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the 6th annual Roadmap to Billions conference presented by Black Women Talk Tech. The conference was built from the perspective of women, in an effort to showcase the brilliance of Black women in tech. The secondary mission of the conference is to create a stage for their experiences while fostering deep connections with other entrepreneurs and creating funding opportunities. The three-day online and in-pers

UPenn Is Partnering With Five HBCUs To Attract Diverse Students To Its Medical School

‍Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) has expanded a medical school pathway program in May to increase diversity among physicians by partnering with five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The Penn Access Summer Scholars (PASS) Program, launched in 2008, is an opportunity for underrepresented students in medicine to experience the medical school environment and prepare to matriculate into medical school. The program will now officially

Black Women Founders Receive $500 Checks at Philadelphia Juneteenth Celebration

Several female founders gathered at Coffee Cream & Dreams, a Black woman-owned coffee shop in the Fairmount neighborhood, for a speed mentoring and Juneteenth celebratory event hosted by Mom Your Business, an organization connecting female founders to resources and opportunities to help women “mom” a.k.a. “take care of” their business. The event, known as Music Mentors & Munchies, was first launched in 2017 for National Mentoring Month and is normally held in January. This year; however, the ev

African Business Leaders Meet at Temple to Address Gaps Between the Diaspora

Business owners, scholars and ambassadors gathered at the African Business Roundtable at Temple University last week to discuss bridging the gap between Philadelphia and the African diaspora. This event, which took place on June 10, is part of the programming leading up to ODUNDE, the largest African American street festival in the United States, which was held in South Philadelphia on June 12. Gaston Mbonglou, CEO of UASG Advisors, gave a presentation on a new initiative by the African Cultur

DBC: Supporting a Black-Owned Business is an Opportunity for All-Around Growth – PYXERA Global

Most businesses refer to their leader as a CEO, but at the Design and Branding Company (DBC), the founder goes by the title of “Prime Minister” to create a workplace focused on autonomy and community. DBC is a strategic creative agency that helps organizations speak directly to their audiences by infusing visual design with data to solve complex communication issues. Prime Minister Carlos Williams draws inspiration from the concept of a city-state; DBC clients are referred to as citizens and al

A Year in Review: It’s Not Just About DEI in the Workplace. It’s All Around Us. – PYXERA Global

The Pro Bono for Economic Equity (PBEE) program is a skills-based volunteer program to help solve critical business challenges faced by Black-owned businesses. It was created by SAP in partnership with their long-time partner PYXERA Global to address the long-standing issue of social and systemic racial injustices within the United States, including in the business world. SAP began conceptualizing PBEE as a part of a social justice response to the murder of George Floyd that occurred in June 20

Mantua: Breaking Ground on a New Supermarket

Residents in Mantua have been waiting almost a decade for the development of a supermarket in the community. The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) began seizing property in two blighted blocks of the neighborhood in 2012 through eminent domain to build a supermarket, but plans were halted in 2014 after local artist James Dupree fought back against the City from taking his art studio. Now, planning for another development, the Village Square on Haverford is underway to bring a supermark

Mantua: “If you don’t live here you ain’t going to put all your heart into it;” the Impact of a Community Center

Fred Stokes, 70, was born in Mantua and returned to the West Philadelphia community to purchase his childhood home. Stokes credits much of who he is to “35th and Haverford,” the site of the West Philadelphia Boys & Girls Club. The center was expanded and reconstructed in 1986, but Stokes remembers when it was only a three-story building when he was a child. “That West Philadelphia Boys & Girls Club did so much when we were little,” Stokes said. “And we didn’t have a lot, but we knew we always

Mantua: Community Garden Aims to Address Food Insecurity

The community garden at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships has been working to engage people in the Mantua community through urban gardening to begin addressing food insecurity in the area. The garden was formed in 2014 in partnership with Trellis for Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization that provides services and programs for youth of all ages to support the sustainable upward growth of communities and the planet. After a period of inactivity, Trellis for Tomorrow reached out to D

Earth School nurtures children’s connection to natural world

Patricia Walsh-Collins, founder and director of Earth School, is taking a new approach to education through her nonprofit educational organization dedicated to nurturing and facilitating a child’s connection to the natural world. “Our basic mission is to nurture and cultivate the inner wisdom of the young,” Walsh-Collins said. “We see ourselves as a conduit to the higher teachings of the Earth.” The Earth School uses a sensorial approach to its teaching, primarily focusing on the sixth sense

Meet Me in Down Dog: Finding a way to make yoga more accessible

Meet Me in Down Dog is aiming to make the discipline of yoga more accessible. “The idea behind the community yoga, especially during the pandemic, has been to bring people together and to offer a space that was affordable,” said founder and yoga instructor Lauren Otto. “I’ve had students actually thank us for making it so reasonable because otherwise they can’t do yoga.” Classes are held on Saturdays from 10 to 11 a.m. for a $5 drop-in fee paid at the door at the Mercantile, Doylestown, whi

New nonprofit helps people experiencing a divorce

A new nonprofit in Doylestown, the Alpha Community Education Foundation, is working to prevent divorce and the “marriage-go-round” in response to high divorce rates in the area. In 2020, there were 58,960 marriages and 28,884 divorces and annulments in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Bucks County was below the state divorce rate with 4,925 marriages and 1,071 divorces and annulments in 2020. “We believe that if marriages get the right help they can be save

Vita Education Services celebrates 50 years

Vita Education Services is planning its 50th anniversary as a nonprofit organization and hopes to celebrate the milestone in 2022. Vita has provided free educational programs for underserved adults in the Bucks County area since 1971 when Judge Edmund V. Ludwig from the Court of Common Pleas dedicated a group of volunteers to help young adults on probation and parole break patterns of recidivism. They noticed many participants had limited literacy skills, and with no adult basic education serv

Local author debuts his first published short story

Tyler Pierson had his first sci-fi short story, “Line of Sight,” published in Bewildering Stories, an online literary magazine. The story is a self-described “space adventure” that follows two outlaws. The piece opens with a space battle between two alien forces in a distant galaxy, then fast forwards to millions of years later where we meet our protagonist, Abigail, a spaceship pilot who is working on behalf of an interplanetary crime lord, and Thrax, one of the crime lord’s lackeys. The duo

Big Bear tubing set to sail down the Delaware

Big Bear Gear in Frenchtown, N.J.,will have its tubing business in full swing just in time for the July Fourth weekend. The business, which opened about a year ago as an outdoor equipment and rental shop, recently received a license from the state of New Jersey to operate tubing on the Delaware River after facing some challenges. Big Bear Gear delayed its plans to open from April to June 2020 because of COVID-19. “In the one year we have created a successful outdoor gear store along with cla

School Districts Go Their Own Way on Mask Mandates, CDC Guidance –

School districts in the Delaware Valley are responding to the new CDC guidelines stating that fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. Despite the new guidelines, the Pottsgrove School District announced that students and staff are required to continue wearing masks through the end of the school year. After Montgomery County school superintendents met with the Montgomery County Department of Health, Pottsgrove Superintendent William Shirkis

Audrey’s Own Terms

She starts her work day in a typical fashion: putting her blonde hair in a top knot and sitting cross-legged on her windowsill, eyeshadow palette in hand. Using the natural light from her window to lean over, she looks into a small mirror and begins painting her eyelids. “Cool makeup looks, that’s like, my thing,” Audrey, 23, says. “I love doing makeup.” But she doesn’t have a typical job. Audrey works as an OnlyFans creator, which consists of staging her own weekly pornographic photo shoots wi

What do Kazakh people think about the resurfacing of Borat?

The release of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm on Amazon Prime Video has been a source of light-hearted humor for some people looking to unwind from their everyday stressors, but is it OK to laugh at an entire ethnic group’s expense? Many Kazakh people have taken to social media to speak out on the movie they claim is racist and xenophobic with the hashtags #cancelborat and #cancelborat2, which have generated thousands of posts, as well as with an online petition on AVAAZ that has garnered over 100,
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