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Bucks partner with other Wisconsin pro franchises to help Black, Latino startups

The Bucks, Packers and Brewers, with assistance from Microsoft Corp., have created the Equity League.

The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin’s three major-league professional sports franchises are banding together to help Black- and Latino-owned startups secure investment money and other resources.

The Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers, with assistance from Microsoft Corp., have created the Equity League, a networking initiative with an emphasis on supporting Black and Latino entrepreneurs.

Packers officials say 1% of venture capital-backed startups have Black founders and less than 2% are Latino. Only 3% of employees at venture capital investment funds are Black or Latino professionals, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“Our goal is to invest in companies and founders that have strong potential to produce both significant financial returns and large-scale social impact,” said Israel Squires, Equity League director.

Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha in August was a rallying cry for the teams. Blake was shot seven times by a Kenosha police officer, which sparked demonstrations for days. Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down.

In response to the shooting, Bucks players sat out a playoff game, causing the NBA to cancel all games for that day. The Brewers did the same for a regular season game, and the Packers took off a day of training camp.