By Harry C. Alford III
Beyond the Rhetoric 1001
We are humbled to announce that two alums from Harlem Lacrosse will be joining humble ventures as summer interns.
Actively seeking diverse interns is nothing new for us. We have a group of interns from the University of Maryland working with us right now — all of whom are minorities, both male and female. But this group of interns holds a special place in my heart because of my connection to lacrosse.
On June 8, 2020, my twin brother, Thomas Alford, and I presented to the University of Maryland lacrosse team about implicit bias and how it emboldens racism. Coach Tillman has been outspoken about his efforts to understand the injustices in our country and the need to start working to make a change.
My brother and I know a little bit about lacrosse and racism. Thomas was a 4x ACC Academic Honor Roll, and I was a U19 lacrosse world champion, a 2x All-American, and played professionally. While we faced racism at times throughout our careers, the Creator’s Game has been inclusive and overwhelmingly accepting of us.
When we aren’t coaching the next generation of leaders on and off the field, our work centers around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Thomas works at Oportun, a startup providing inclusive, affordable, financial services that empowers diverse audiences to build a better future, and I work at humble ventures, a venture development firm focusing on diverse entrepreneurs and those building solutions for diverse audiences.
The discussion offered some ways to learn about our country’s history, its impact on the present, the underlying conditions that led to the murder of George Floyd, and actionable steps. We also shared stories about our experiences playing lacrosse, both negative and positive.
Staying connected to the sport and reaching back to support the next generation is important and one reason why humble’s partnered with Harlem Lacrosse.
Harlem Lacrosse’s mission is to empower the children who are most at risk for academic decline and dropout to rise above their challenges and reach their full potential. Lacrosse is at the heart of Harlem Lacrosse’s “college-going culture” and a holistic approach to developing the social-emotional skill sets of the children they serve.
The interns will be working on a stealth project, publicly launching later this year, aligned against benchmarks and requiring several deliverables.
Meet the 2020 intern class from Harlem Lacrosse:
Souleymane Ballo has a keen interest in marketing and enjoyed sociology class last semester as a freshman at Hobart, where he plays Division 1 lacrosse. He realized he had a knack for marketing when he created video highlights to help his high school teams get recruited to college. Souley’s been referred by one of his coaches as being “an absolute stud.”
Elijah Vega has a broad range of academic interests; he is particularly passionate about economics, as well as sustainable and ethical business. Eli plays midfield for Haverford College. One coach described Eli as “the standard by which others are measured.”
Harlem Lacrosse now serves more than 1000 students nationwide across 19 programs in five cities and, since 2011, has earned more than $40 million scholarship offers to independent schools and colleges.
“We’re so excited that Elijah and Souleymane will be interning with humble ventures this summer. We see our mission and values at Harlem Lacrosse as aligned with humble; we’re both relentlessly trying to provide opportunities and a platform to underserved student-athletes and communities of color. We’re excited for Elijah and Souleymane to learn from Harry and the wonderful team there at humble and to continue their trajectory as change-makers in our Harlem Lacrosse community and beyond.” — Chief Program Officer, Joel Censer
We look forward to sharing our insights as well as learning different perspectives from Souley and Eli. However, this inaugural class is just a starting point. We, humble ventures, want our relationship with Harlem Lacrosse to be a resource for student-athletes who are eager to learn more about investing, technology, culture, and everything in-between for years to come.
Harry Alford III is the co-founder of humble ventures, a venture development firm that drives innovation forward in partnership with startups, established enterprises, and investors. We focus on diverse entrepreneurs who are solving problems for the fastest growing demographic segments. We believe that diverse entrepreneurs provide opportunities for disproportionate returns and represent the markets of the future.