Pitch Black was formed as an independent project by Anthony Tucker, Benjamin Cole, and Luthan Hill, three then Harvard Business School students - now graduates, who wanted to leverage the platform they had to positively impact their community. A partnership was forged through a meeting with Dwyane Wade who had a mutual interest in and track record of giving back to the African American community. Working hand in hand with Dwyane Wade, the focus was placed on Chicago, a relationship was formed with Chicago City Officials, and the opening event, a competition modeled after the "hackathon" concept, was held April 1, 2017 on the campus of Harvard Business School. The goal was to leverage cross-disciplinary teams and design thinking principles to arrive at innovative solutions in a relatively short period of time.

On the day of the event, members of the Harvard and Greater Boston communities gathered and teams were formed with each aligning to a track and choosing to address one of the following four questions specific to the City of Chicago:

  • Education: How can Chicago incentivize public schools and students to prioritize post-secondary planning?
  • Economic Development: How can Chicago encourage economic development and growth in challenged communities but avoid gentrification and displacement?
  • Community Engagement: How do we engage African Americans under the age of 30 in the political and policy making process?
  • Public Health: How do we de-stigmatize mental illness and substance use disorders in Black communities and improve access to treatment?

To provide context and lend brain power, Chicago high school students were flown in to join the teams, and the day was spent discussing approaches, developing a solution, and preparing a pitch on how the proposed idea addressed the selected question.

All teams then made a 2-3 minute pitch to a panel of business leaders, professors, and city officials who served as judges.

A top idea was selected from each track and those teams will now share the winning ideas with city officials, business leaders, and community activists in Chicago during the Pitch Black HBS Winners Weekend.

Check out footage of the opening event below.