Three Wisconsin sports teams and Microsoft are pledging to invest in startup companies owned by Black and Latino people across the state and nation.
The Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and Green Bay Packers are calling their joint effort the Equity League. Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said the inflection point was in August, when Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey severely wounded a Black man, Jacob Blake, while trying to take Blake into custody.
"All of the teams reacted immediately — the players, the organizations. At least in my mind, it made me for certain, I knew we had to do something,” Murphy said during a Tuesday news conference.
The Kenosha case is still controversial, as the Kenosha police union attorney argues Sheskey did nothing wrong.
But the incident has brought to light more concerns about racial inequity, including that only a tiny percentage of venture capital goes to Black and Latino owned startups.
Equity League Director Israel Squires, who is Latino, says the partnership hopes to change that.
"We're looking at these inequities that exist and trying to play our role — be a catalyst — in forming an investment network and connected capital model,” said Squires.
Squires formerly worked for Titletown Tech, a partnership between the Packers and Microsoft that Squires said has invested in 21 young companies over three years.
The sports teams aren't saying how much they'll spend on the Equity League or how many startups they hope to fund. They say they'll let the market speak to them.