June 9, 2023

Meet The Black Tech Founders Fighting For Our Right To Clean Air

Tech Founders

This week, US east coast cities such as New York were hit with hazardous smog and smoke caused by Canadian wildfires, as the cities dealt with some of the worst air quality seen in recent history.

Since Friday, over 400 wildfires have blazed through Canada, with 200 still considered out of control, said the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire.

Environmental justice activists have told CNN the air is only exacerbating health risks in vulnerable Black and brown communities.

Studies have shown Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans are exposed to more pollution from every source, including industry, agriculture, vehicles, and construction, amongst many more.

This week we want to recognize the Black tech founders who continuously fight for our right to clean air.

Kameale Terry

ChargerHelp! founded nearly three years ago, aims to fix and learn from broken EV charging stations after more than a quarter of public EV charging stations were found to be non-functioning.

The maintenance company tracks information on how stations are being deployed alongside how they’re working with aims to improve current reliability and build a more reliable and sustainable infrastructure.

Founder Terry said she lives in a community with inferior air quality, and after her mother passed from lung cancer, getting folks to trust infrastructure and drive electric cars sits near and dear to her heart.

The company has already touched over 10,000 stations, and investors, including Blue Bear Capital, said ChargeHelp! has data across communication networks, charger types, and geographical locations, all of which play into why or how a charging station isn’t working.

Sheryl E. Ponds

Dai Technologies designs and builds electric vehicle charging stations working to bring electric vehicles into the Black community after reports found only 2% of electric vehicle owners are Black.

It has been concluded that Black drivers are less likely to purchase an electric vehicle due to prices and lack of access to charging stations in local areas.

Therefore, Dai targets EV charging deserts, areas without easily accessible charging stations for the community. By setting up chargers in apartments and retail garages, founder Ponds said in an interview with Forbes; she hopes to help people embrace electrified transportation.

Yodit Bekele Stanton

Open Sensors uses small, inexpensive sensors to monitor air quality and other office conditions. The devices measure carbon dioxide using internet of things technology, in which sensors publish real-time data over a network.

The sensors can measure the buildup of exhaled air within a space and, therefore, the potential level of pathogens, allowing building managers to monitor and adjust air quality as necessary.

Founder Stanton told The New York Times, she partially founded Open Sensors by searching for solutions to her daughter’s debilitating asthma. She put sensors in her backyard and began monitoring the air quality in her neighborhood, mapping the data against her daughter’s asthma attacks, leading to the further development of Open Sensors.

The sensors are extremely power efficient, so batteries don’t need to be changed more frequently than they would for a wristwatch.

Donnel Baird

Bloc Power, founded by Donnel Baird, aims to make American cities more intelligent, greener, and healthier by partnering with utilities, government agencies, and building owners to identify unhealthy, energy-wasting buildings to retrofit.

The company specializes in air source heat pump system design and installation, as heat pumps purify the air and improve indoor air quality.

The startup, founded in 2014 in New York, works with building owners to develop, install and finance upgrades that reduce fossil fuel consumption as Baird focuses on decarbonizing America’s urban core, developing the green economy’s workforce, and bringing climate justice to underserved and vulnerable communities.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.