Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

We strive to foster inclusive and welcoming programming and are focused on recruiting a diverse range of participants and instructors.

We strive to foster inclusive and welcoming programming and are focused on recruiting a diverse range of participants and instructors, particularly underrepresented minorities, women, and individuals with disabilities.

Serving the Deaf Community and Supporting Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

  • RIT’s National Institute for the Deaf (NTID) hosted the third annual I-Corps regional course for Deaf entrepreneurs, with teams from NTID, Gallaudet University, and Cal State Northridge.
  • RIT/NTID are developing native American Sign Language (ASL) course materials to expand access to the I-Corps learning experience for the national Deaf community.
  • In partnership with Women Entrepreneurs (W.E.) Cornell and Black Entrepreneurs in Training, we have developed customized I-Corps regional courses for women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.
  • Our Node is collaborating with the national GEM Consortium’s Inclusion in Innovation Initiative (i4) to raise awareness of I-Corps and support participation by GEM Fellows and other URM grad students through our GEM regional course, and piloting in-person learning about entrepreneurship at GEM Fellows events 

Interview with Dr. Lynden Archer, Dean of Engineering, Cornell University, and PI, UNY I-Corps Node

Interview with Talmesha A. Richards, Principal Manager, Innovation Relationships, GEM i4, NSF I-Corps

Nakia Melecio, a Black man wearing glasses and wearing a gray suit jacket, red vest, black dress shirt, and gray and white printed tie

Instructor Spotlight: Nakia Melecio

Meet Nakia Melecio, a serial entrepreneur who brings over 20 years of experience to the teams he works with through the I-Corps program. Dr. Melecio is a Senior Research Faculty member at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, as well as a Startup Catalyst at its Advanced Technology Development Center.

He specializes in deep tech and is heavily invested in the entrepreneurial community, serving as a mentor and advisor through Georgia Bio, Georgia Tech CREATE-X, the U.S. Department of State’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Initiative, and FedTech, among others. Most recently, Dr. Melecio was announced as the Principal Investigator on a $2.6 million grant to develop a Center for MedTech Excellence at Georgia Tech. Funded in part by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the center will work to support medical technology startups through scaling and commercialization challenges unique to that sector.

Read the Instructor Spotlight
Young Black entrepreneurs having a meeting

Instructor Training for Inclusivity

Our focus as a Node has been to center inclusive teaching methods and recruitment strategies in our programming. Our newly launched online, asynchronous “train the trainer” course focuses on disrupting implicit bias, attracting diverse teams, creating an inclusive learning environment, delivering “purposefully direct” feedback to teams, and using a set of rubrics to objectively assess a team’s performance in the regional course, and their potential fit with I-Corps Teams requirements.

The material in this training course was developed with funding from a 2019 Node Supplement Award from NSF, and is delivered through the same online learning platform that instructors use with their regional course students. New instructors are required to observe a virtual regional course led by experienced instructors and debrief with the instructors after each session. After completing the training course and observation, new instructors are paired with an experienced instructor to lead their first regional course.