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Enlightened Introduces Innovation and Inclusion to Infrastructure in 2023

On Tuesday, October 17, 2023, the offices of Enlightened, Inc. were opened to the community participants of this year’s Connect Anacostia Business Model Hackathon. This 12-hour hackathon was a collaborative hosting by US Ignite and InnovateDMV, DC Startup Week, CivStart, Anacostia Business Improvement District (BID) and Enlightened. The event included the assignment of 5 Working Groups/Teams who received coaching and mentorship from experts and executives from over a dozen prominent Companies, Organizations and Agencies. The event closed with solution pitches, made by each team, and the selection of a First and Second Place Winner.

“Enlightened is proud to support the Connect Anacostia Business Model Hackathon, the two winning teams, and all the participants. Hosting this type of event at the Headquarters of Enlightened, demonstrates the viability and excellence that is in Anacostia.” -Antwanye Ford, CEO of Enlightened

The premise of this innovative event is rooted within the Anacostia community. “Anacostia is full of talented folks, but because of the historic lack of reliable and affordable Internet access in the neighborhood, some residents have fallen behind in digital skills and literacy – the skills required to engage in critical aspects of the modern economy…,” Catherine Forrest of US Ignite expressed “…For Anacostia residents to truly thrive in entrepreneurial endeavors, business leaders need to build the community’s digital skills through innovative models like the ones proposed by the winning teams.”

The first-place winners, the Anacostia Community Internet Solutions team received 10,000 Amazon Web Services (AWS) credits each and $2,000. Their business model focused on Anacostia residents’ need for reliable high-speed Internet. Fresh Start Digital Financial Key team, who came in second place, received 10,000 AWS credits each and $1,000. Their business model focused on giving formerly incarcerated, undocumented, and under-banked residents access to digital financial products and digital literacy training through a digital financial key called “Fresh Start”.

Event Collaborators

A few of the co-hosts/contributors shared their thoughts following the event: “The Anacostia BID continues to do the vital work of strengthening DC’s Ward 8 businesses and residents through partnerships and out-of-the-box thinking that provide community centered professional programs like the Connect Anacostia Business Model Hackathon. We focus on smart growth. We’re so proud of all the participants who contributed their experiences, ideas, and energy to today’s event. We heard from many, that the personal rewards were tremendous and they’d do it again with no question. This program was a great success. We intend to keep the ball rolling.” -Kristina Noell, Executive Director of the Anacostia BID

“CivStart believes solving society’s biggest problems starts at the local level. The winning team’s focus on the Anacostia community moves us one step closer to closing the digital divide.” -Anthony Jamison, Co-Founder and CEO, CivStart

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