How one Durham-based foundation is investing in North Carolina’s entrepreneurs and growing the state’s innovation footprint

Thom Ruhe and Roy Cooper in suits
Thom Ruhe and Roy Cooper.

  • The NC IDEA foundation supports entrepreneurship and economic development across North Carolina.
  • Using grants, seed funding, mentoring, and other programs, NC IDEA helps entrepreneurs directly.
  • Some initiatives include the NC Black Entrepreneurship Council, NC IDEA SOAR, and NC IDEA LABS.
  • This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called “Advancing Cities.”

From a non-dairy cheese brand and sustainable oyster-production company to many software, hardware, and social-media firms, the nonprofit NC IDEA invests in a variety of businesses across North Carolina.

Thom Ruhe of NC IDEA headshot
Thom Ruhe.

“It’s a shorter list to tell you what we wouldn’t fund than what we do fund,” Thom Ruhe, NC IDEA’s president and CEO, told Insider.

The Durham, North Carolina-based organization supports entrepreneurship and economic development across the state through grants, seed funding, mentoring, and other programs. Last year, it distributed about $3 million to entrepreneurs – and plans to provide $3.5 million more this year.

Durham is a “national case study for what an entrepreneurial ecosystem can do,” and the region has long been a center for innovation, Ruhe, who previously directed entrepreneurial programs at the Kauffman Foundation, said.

“There’s a lot of collaborative energy here, more than I’ve experienced in other markets,” he said. “It’s refreshing and productive. I know it’s cliche to say, the rising tide argument, but it really has helped here.”

Here’s a look at how NC IDEA invests in entrepreneurs, who the organization believes transform communities and boost local economic development.

Broadening its reach to help more entrepreneurs

NC IDEA is a private foundation that was created in 2006 under the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, a nonprofit connecting North Carolina entrepreneurs to the resources they need. It became independent in 2015.

Unlike other foundations, such as the Gates Foundation or Kauffman Foundation, NC IDEA doesn’t have a benefactor, Ruhe said. The primary source for its endowment came from an equity investment that the state of North Carolina made in the 1990s and liquidated in the early 2000s.

To protect the investment, the private foundation was established to economically empower people through entrepreneurship. NC IDEA’s endowment is invested, and the investment income funds the organization.

Recently, the organization began fundraising, which Ruhe said is “very unusual for private foundations because we’re considered self-funded.” NC IDEA wants to increase its budget so it can fund more companies and cover the administrative cost of reviewing additional applications.

“We could see a greater return if we simply had more budget to allocate,” Ruhe said. “We’re trying to take that message out into the economic development and philanthropic communities within North Carolina to say, ‘If you think there’s value to North Carolina and the activity that we do, you can help us increase the yield by just increasing our programmatic budget.'”

Giving grants to businesses and organizations helping startups

Many foundations either operate programs or provide funding. NC IDEA is unique in that it does both, Ruhe explained.

“Our grant-making is better for what we learn in our programmatic activities, and vice versa,” he said. “All of our programs and grants are targeted at helping people live up to their entrepreneurial potential, and in a broader context, make North Carolina the best state in the nation for people to start and grow firms of economic impact.”

NC IDEA operates two categories of grants. Seed grants and micro-grants of $50,000 and $10,000 are provided directly to entrepreneurs or startup founders.

Grants are awarded to founders to whom the money would “at this particular time be very impactful in their ultimate success,” Ruhe said. It provides assistance to get ideas off the ground or help companies scale to the next level so they can create jobs and generate tax revenue for the state. The grants don’t need to be paid back, and the organization doesn’t receive equity in the business.

Another category of grants is what Ruhe calls B2B, where NC IDEA supports other organizations that help entrepreneurs, such as universities, two-year colleges, cities, counties, and others. The organization has about 60 partners in its network.

Supporting underserved communities

NC IDEA recognizes that economic development in North Carolina is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and the organization strives to support underserved communities. Grants are distributed based on what’s relevant in different parts of the state, whether it’s educational programs, access to capital, or mentoring.

“We have to meet people where they are and help them from that starting point,” Ruhe said. “The best way we could do that was the creation of this ecosystem partner program where organizations that are on the front lines in various parts of the state say, ‘Here in our corner of the state, this is what’s most needed.'”

NC IDEA also created the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council and has committed $1 million to advance Black entrepreneurs in the state. The council and foundation will work together to identify and recommend programs, grant recipients, and partners.

large group of people around table in board room
NC IDEA SOAR Day May 2019.

Another program, NC IDEA SOAR, aims to support women in entrepreneurship. The program offers networking, professional development, and connections to resources to help female founders grow their businesses. There’s also a four-week program called NC IDEA LABS that’s open to anyone wanting to take their business to the next level.

Group of men around a table with laptop
NC IDEA LABS fall 2018.

SOAR and LABS are “traditional accelerator”-type programs, Ruhe said. “It’s specific business-growth assistance around market valuation, customer discovery, lead generation, revenue generation – all the nuts and bolts,” he added.

NC IDEA delivers its programs at no cost, but Ruhe said there’s a competitive application process that involves companies providing details about its founders, the company as a whole, revenue, funding, and the type of grants they’re seeking. The organization receives hundreds of applications during each application period.

Growing North Carolina’s innovation footprint

Since its beginning, NC IDEA has provided about $15 million to companies and partners throughout North Carolina. Ruhe added they’ve supported nearly 500 companies, which have created more than 3,300 jobs and brought many benefits to communities.

Marrying innovation and entrepreneurship offers the biggest economic impact, and he said the state of North Carolina does well cultivating both. As word gets out about the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and it keeps attracting major tech companies like Apple and Google, the region has even more potential for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

“The greatest natural resource that exists is the entrepreneurial spirit of people,” Ruhe said. “It’ll be entrepreneurs who will solve our biggest problems. It’s entrepreneurs who are creating the companies that create the jobs we so desperately need. That’s why we do what we do.”

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Why you need to be aware of your implicit biases to support your colleagues during stressful times

stress migraine
To support our colleagues through stressful times, we have to leave bias at the door.

  • Gender bias – the tendency to associate certain traits more so with one gender – can creep into work.
  • Everyone should be aware of their own biases to create a climate of trust for colleagues experiencing stress.
  • Be mindful of others, and don’t assume a colleague’s stress is due to being in a marginalized group.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Let’s say your colleague shows up for your Zoom meeting crying. When you ask what’s wrong, they share that they’re having a tough time balancing the demands of work with three young children at home, caregiving for aging parents, and dealing with a spouse who travels constantly for work.

So, what does this colleague look like? Did you picture a woman?

If so, you’re not alone. Like so many of us, you may have some implicit gender bias about things like who’s more likely to cry at work, who takes care of young children, or who is a caregiver for aging parents.

Gender bias is the tendency to associate certain traits with one gender over another. Sometimes, this means favoring one gender over the other. And gender bias is just one of many biases that we need to be aware of – and work on – to support our colleagues during stressful times.

But let me start with some good news if you’re struggling with the assumptions you made: If you have a brain, you have bias. We tend to think of bias as a bad thing, but it isn’t always.

Read more: I went through a divorce and months of unhappiness in my role before I hit my breaking point. Here’s how I put my life back together.

Bias is a natural byproduct of the way our brains work. Biases help us categorize objects so that we can quickly determine what’s safe and what isn’t. Biases help us make decisions more easily so that we don’t have to tap into our cognitive bandwidth every time we decide something. A bias toward eating more vegetables and less dessert is a healthy bias, for example.

For most of us, starting at a young age, we start to discriminate between those who are like us – the “in group” – and those who are not like us – the “out group.” Recognizing our in group can help us develop our sense of identity, belonging, security, and safety – but it can also lead to harmful prejudices.

As researcher Jennifer Eberhardt explains in her book, “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do,” “at its root, bias is not an affliction that can be cured or banished. It’s a human condition that we have to understand and deal with.”

So, let’s look at some biases we should all be aware of, especially when creating a climate of openness and trust for our colleagues who are experiencing stress.

Be aware of discrimination and its effects

Chances are, you’re working with colleagues who are part of marginalized populations, which are groups that may experience discrimination because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions. Here are just a few:

  • LGBTQIA+ professionals
  • Senior citizens
  • Racial/cultural minorities
  • Military combat veterans
  • People with physical disabilities
  • People with mental illness, including substance abuse and other addiction disorders
  • People on the autism spectrum

Of course, your colleague doesn’t have to identify with one of these categories to be subject to discrimination. Perceived discrimination consistently has been shown to be associated with diminished mental health, and even the anticipation of discrimination can lead to higher stress levels. Constantly feeling on edge or unsure about how you’ll be treated can trigger a long-standing stress response.

Whether it’s related to ethnicity, sexual orientation, or beliefs, feeling undervalued and uncertain about the future directly impacts mental health now and in the future.

Learn about stereotypes and microaggressions

So what can we do about discrimination issues? We need to be mindful of our own stereotypes and microaggressions. Stereotypes are oversimplified ideas about a particular type of person or a group of people.

So, if you’re speaking with a woman about her stress, make sure you don’t assume that she’s the primary caregiver at home. If you’re speaking with a colleague with a disability about his stress, don’t assume that his stress is related to his disability.

And what about microaggressions? According to Columbia University’s Derald Wing Sue, “microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”

So, if you’re speaking with a non-native English speaker about stress, don’t “compliment them” for being able to speak so clearly or fluently. If you’re speaking with a non-binary colleague about their stress, don’t say, “I can’t keep up with your latest pronouns.”

Finally, we shouldn’t assume that the stress a colleague of ours is experiencing right now is about their marginalized group experience. And we also shouldn’t assume that it isn’t. There’s more about other people’s experiences, cultures, and backgrounds than we can ever truly understand. So be thoughtful, careful, compassionate, and open to feedback about how you’re speaking and showing up for everyone – equitably.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to contact Discord and submit a help or support request as a user or developer

Contact Discord
There are several ways you can contact Discord support.

  • You can contact Discord support directly using their online forms for users and developers, via Twitter, or by reaching them via email at support@discordapp.com.
  • Developers can contact Discord with a specific issue using the Game Dev “Submit a request” feature.
  • If you want a quicker resolution, you can try to use Discord’s FAQ help center or community forums to get general support or help from fellow Discord users.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Discord – the popular group-chatting platform initially designed for gamers – offers users a way to communicate, play games, stream, listen to music, and more.

With so many users and so many ways to use it, you’re likely to encounter problems on the platform. Regardless of the issue – whether it’s audio and video functionality, your Nitro subscription, or integrating Discord with a game console – contacting the support team is easy.

You can contact Discord for help and support issues through email at support@discordapp.com, via Twitter, or through various means within their help department.

How to contact Discord developer support

Like Discord users, developers are allowed to send support requests. Their request form is a little broader, and the help center isn’t as large, but you can still get answers and related assistance.

Discord_Image11
Developers can use their own request form to receive help from Discord.

First, go to the game developers’ submission request form. Then provide a description of the problem, how the bug is affecting your program’s function, what the program is intended to do without the bug, and what the outcome is of the program with the bug.

You must also include the operating system you’re using and the platform that it’s used on.

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Read the original article on Business Insider

How to contact Instagram support and get help with account-related issues

Instagram logo on phone
You can call Instagram and speak to an automated agent or use the online Help Center to get support for the app.

  • You can contact Instagram support by phone at 1-650-543-4800 or via Instagram’s online Help Center.
  • Users were once able to email Instagram at support@instagram.com, but that address is now defunct.
  • You can also contact Instagram to report issues, such as a copyright violation or a hacked account.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

With more than one billion active Instagram users every month, it’s easy to see how a customer service arm might get overwhelmed.

Instagram has a direct line for support – their phone number is (650) 543-4800 – but it’s unlikely you’ll get a human response this way. And while you were once able to email Instagram support at support@instagram.com, that address is now defunct.

Instead, Instagram offers a robust help center that can answer most questions, and they make it easy for you to report issues with content you see on the site.

These functions are available for both the iPhone and Android apps, as well as through the desktop website. Here’s what you need to know to contact Instagram for support or customer service issues.

How to report an issue to Instagram

Instagram lets you report individual posts, specific users, and comments. Just go to any post, account, or comment on the app or desktop site, click the three horizontal dots, and select “Report” from the drop-down menu.

If you’re not sure whether your issue can be reported or if someone has committed a reportable offense, review Instagram’s community guidelines before using the report feature.

Here’s some of what Instagram would qualify as a legitimate issue:

  • Intellectual property: Issues that follow under this grievance include users infringing on copyright – which generally protects original expression like images and words but not facts and ideas – and trademarks, defined as a word, slogan, symbol, or design made to distinguish products or services from an individual, group or company.
  • Nudity: Broadly defined as “appropriate imagery,” this more controversial guideline prevents nudity of any kind on the site, with a handful of exceptions – including post-mastectomy scarring photos, individuals breastfeeding, and nudity in paintings and sculptures.
  • Hate speech: The platform will remove any content from its site that displays “credible threats of violence,” but also hate speech – based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or disease – as well as bullying and harassment that target private individuals.
  • Illegal activities: Instagram will remove posts that offer specific services around sex, firearms, and drugs, in addition to removing posts or comments that “support or praise of terrorism, organized crime or hate groups.”
  • Self-injury: Any content posted to the platform that appears to glorify or encourage any type of physical self-injury, including eating disorders, will be taken down – with the exception of posts that reference these issues in the name of increasing awareness or signposting support.
  • Graphic violence: Any videos or images featuring intense, graphic violence that isn’t shared in relation to newsworthy events or to condemn or educate on a larger issue, will be removed for inappropriateness.

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