Upside Tech Alliance launches to bring technology solutions to local leaders

3 min read
September 13 2022

(New York, NY) September 13, 2022 - With recent funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), local and city leaders have access to unprecedented levels of resources. To help cities deliver the benefits of these funding opportunities, four companies from the Kapor Capital portfolio —Aclima, Bitwise Industries, BlocPower, and Promise—are jointly announcing today the launch of the Upside Tech Alliance. 

The members of the alliance partner with local leaders to implement innovative technology that unlocks economic opportunities with the speed, agility, and scale of successful technology companies. Championed by Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein, the Upside Tech Alliance uses processes honed while scaling each of the four companies, then applies them to tailored programs that quickly implement city solutions.

“Led by successful companies with committed leadership, the Upside Tech Alliance helps local leaders looking to propel their cities and regions into an equitable, sustainable, and digital future,” said the Kapors. “For those looking to unlock economic growth in their regions while serving the public good during such an important moment, this is the perfect place to start.”

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Here is how the Upside Tech Alliance works:

  • Understand the opportunity at a local level: The Upside Tech Alliance listens to the needs of city leaders to implement programs to address current goals. Then, the members of the alliance collect and analyze data to shape each approach. This could include modeling city-wide building emissions, mapping air quality and greenhouse gasses at the neighborhood block level, assessing past-due debt for utilities, or auditing a city’s digital infrastructure. 
  • Pilot a customized program: Upside Tech Alliance quickly pilots projects. These projects allow the members of the alliance to test assumptions, build relationships with the community, and adjust solutions for each locality, whether launching a payment portal for a small group of residents or retrofitting a sample set of buildings to increase energy efficiency. 
  • Secure funding: Working with local leaders to identify funding sources and navigate the procurement process, the Upside Tech Alliance leverages programs like the IRA, IIJA, or ARPA or secures donations from philanthropies. 
  • Execute to achieve goals: With a solid foundation, the Upside Tech Alliance designs and launches programs to serve the community, spreading the word through direct outreach and the media. The success is measured by analyzing data, tracking progress, and ultimately, by residents doing better, and cities achieving their goals.

Upside Tech Alliance company, Promise, led by founder and CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, brings flexibility and affordability to public service payments. This helps maximize revenue for utilities and governments while giving the people they serve more choices. This year, Promise met with the City of Newark and Mayor Baraka. Within eight weeks, the City of Newark and Promise had met, piloted, and launched, becoming the fastest city to implement the program. Additionally, in the first five days of the pilot, ten percent of the eligible residents had enrolled over $600,000 of debt in payment plans. Newark’s success is only the start of the Upside Tech Alliance’s potential. 

“Our success is measured by people doing better. You get the benefit of technology, iteration, design, user experience, and data. You get all the things that the private sector does well, but we are using it as a force for good,” said founder and CEO of Promise, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins.

This summer, Aclima announced a statewide air quality and greenhouse gas mobile monitoring initiative in New York State designed to support the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050. The effort maps air quality and pollution block-by-block using Aclima’s mobile-mapping technology that collects and analyzes billions of air quality and greenhouse gas measurements. Aclima is recruiting and training local workers to operate its network — creating jobs in those communities most impacted by air pollution. BlocPower is providing workforce development support to Aclima to train and staff the New York operation to aid in this initiative. This is just one example of two members of the Upside Tech Alliance joining forces to meet city and state climate goals.

“By working with Aclima and BlocPower together, you're turning climate action into an engine for economic development while also targeting emissions to improve public health. And you're helping to reduce economic disparities and create stable, good-paying jobs in historically under-resourced communities through climate action,” said Davida Herzl, Co-Founder & CEO of Aclima.

The Upside Tech Alliance brings together all stakeholders, including policymakers, philanthropies, private capital, and communities, to finally put technology in the service of the public good. Starting on September 14th, CEOs from the Upside Tech Alliance will be at the Smart City Expo in Miami, Florida, presenting how to work together and solutions that come to life. More information here.

Comprised of Aclima, Bitwise Industries, BlocPower, and Promise, the alliance partners with local leaders to implement technology solutions that serve the public good and drive economic growth.
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