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Wisconsin pro franchises aim to help Black, Latino startups

December 15, 2020 GMT

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin’s three major-league professional sports franchises are banding together to help Black- and Latino-owned startups secure investment money and other resources.

The Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers, with assistance from Microsoft Corp., have created the Equity League, a networking initiative with an emphasis on supporting Black and Latino entrepreneurs.

Packers officials say 1% of venture capital-backed startups have Black founders and less than 2% are Latino. Only 3% of employees at venture capital investment funds are Black or Latino professionals, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

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“Our goal is to invest in companies and founders that have strong potential to produce both significant financial returns and large-scale social impact,” said Israel Squires, Equity League director.

Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha in August was a rallying cry for the teams. Blake was shot seven times by a Kenosha police officer, which sparked demonstrations for days. Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down.

In response to the shooting, Bucks players sat out a playoff game, causing the NBA to cancel all games for that day. The Brewers did the same for a regular season game, and the Packers took off a day of training camp.