Merdochey LaFrance, Director of Local Engagement for Verizon sat down with Derick Pearson, Co-Founder, Executive Director & President at the Center for Black Innovation & Felecia Pearson, Co-Founder of the Center for Black Innovation and CEO of Black Ambition to talk about supporting and cultivating diverse entrepreneurs in Florida and beyond.
On June 30, US Tech Future hosted a discussion on Florida’s ecosystem which includes some of the rarest habitats and species in the world – both on land and in the water. The panel discussed how cutting edge efforts are being used to protect Florida’s ecosystem and the role of technology in supporting those efforts. Panelists included Traci Deen, CEO, Conservation Florida; Dr. Debborah Luke, Senior Vice President of Conservation, The Florida Aquarium; and Verizon’s Courtney Barnard.
On May 6, 2021, US Tech Future hosted a panel, “Venture Miami, Fueling Miami’s Tech Future” featuring Saif Ishoof, Florida International University Vice President of Engagement & Mayor of Miami’s Senior Advisor for Information & Technology; Melissa Krinzman, VC in Residence, City of Miami; Kevin Ruiz, Venture Miami/DDA Business Development Manager; and Mike Sarasti, CIO / Director of Innovation & Technology, City of Miami.
Verizon has partnered with Feeding Tampa Bay, a local chapter of Feeding America, to help provide meals to families facing hunger due to the COVID 19 crisis. Verizon was approached by Feeding Tampa Bay and Rep. Susan Valdes of Tampa to see if the Verizon Hillsborough Call Center could be utilized to act as a weekly food distribution center to get food to those who need it most.
Verizon and Feeding Tampa Bay have partnered together to create a ‘Mega Pantry’ at our Hillsborough Ave Call Center. Mega Pantries are equipped to serve thousands of families at a time with 175,000 pounds of food – which is 22 times larger than a typical Mobile Pantry distribution. By utilizing the Hillsborough call center, Verizon and Feeding Tampa Bay are able to reduce the travel time and distance of those in need to reach a food pantry.
Verizon was able to work with its corporate security and real estate teams to turn it into a drive-thru, weekly mega pantry. The pantry will be open weekly on Thursday afternoons and will allow anyone to safely drive in and get much needed groceries. The first pantry opened on January 14 and over 500 families were successfully fed from the pantry!
The COVID 19 crisis has exacerbated food insecurity and many Floridians are facing unemployment and limited funds to buy groceries. This has placed stress on current food bank facilities and has forced food banks to utilize new resources and locations to supply much needed food to communities. In 2020, Feeding Tampa Bay provided over 1 million meals to residents across ten counties in West-Central Florida, the need is great and many residents have difficulty traveling long distances to reach food banks and pantries which are primarily located in downtown areas.