All aboard for social activism

Surrounded by 24 other young social activists on his first cross-country train ride, Fabian Elliott reconnected with his values and reenergized his sense of purpose.

The Millennial Trains Project (MTP) journey was a rolling source of inspiration for Fabian, founder of Chicago startup Black Tech Mecca, a data-driven think tank that works to expand technology access and opportunities in black communities. “You’re in this energetic space where everyone’s engaged and learning from each other about how to create the results we want to see,” he says.

Millennial Train
One of the Millennial Trains continues its route, carrying young entrepreneurs and leaders.

We were the presenting partner for two MTP trips last year as catalysts for nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and change-makers from around the world to further develop their ideas and learn best practices for building a network of support. This partnership is yet another way that we channel our strengths in media, technology, and community involvement to support the next generation of innovators driving positive change.


“It reminded me how passionate I am about empowering other people. But more importantly, this trip helped me realize I’m not alone,” says Fabian, who received an NBCUniversal scholarship to cover the cost of his MTP journey. “Also, hearing and seeing how other organizations struggle to make the tech industry more inclusive validated why Black Tech Mecca’s work is important.”


Comcast NBCUniversal employees were among nearly 35 mentors on each of the weeklong excursions, which stopped in five major U.S. cities for meetings with local government and business leaders. Between stops, MTP riders spent uninterrupted hours developing their projects and brainstorming new ideas together.


“It reminded me how passionate I am about empowering other people. But more importantly, this trip helped me realize I’m not alone.”

Fabian Elliott | Founder and CEO, Black Tech Mecca

“Pretty much everyone made a conscious choice to put away their laptop or phone and focus on this experience,” Fabian says. “In the fast-paced world of tech, it was so great to just slow down for a few days.” He also valued the chance to hear from leaders working in communities far removed from his home base of Chicago.


Millennial Trains Project
The Millennial Trains Project brings together nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and change-makers to test ideas and gain insights.

Millennial Trains Project
The Millennial Trains Project brings together nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and change-makers to test ideas and gain insights.

“Kansas City’s chief innovation officer came on board to talk with us about the difference between collaboration and coordination,” Fabian recalls. “He got us thinking differently about how to make our organizations even more strategic and action oriented.”


The timing of that message proved ideal. Following his MTP trip last August, Fabian was among 17 alumni who received Comcast NBCUniversal Impact Grants totaling $75,000 to help advance their work. The grant helped fund additional research for the 2017 State of the Black Tech Ecosystem, a report issued in February by Black Tech Mecca that proposes a framework to define, assess, and develop black tech communities. “That grant was our first support for assessing the health of Chicago’s black tech ecosystem,” Fabian says.


“Comcast NBCUniversal and MTP have done such a great job in setting up this opportunity for young leaders to connect, yet also giving us the space to do our own thing,” he adds. “That goes a long way in building trust and a sense of shared purpose.”


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$75,000
Total amount of NBCUniversal Impact Grants received by 17 Millennial Trains Project participants to further their social activism projects


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50
Nonprofit leaders, entrepreneurs, and change-makers who last year joined in two weeklong Millennial Trains Project journeys for which Comcast NBCUniversal was the presenting partner


Participants of the Millennial Trains Project
Fabian Elliott of Black Tech Mecca (center) connects with some of the local tech leaders in Albuquerque.



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