Howard Business grad launches COMMUNITYx, a tech startup and app that takes social activism in a new direction
Chloë Rogers may have just changed the art of protest as we know it.
Not everybody has the ability to turn a tragedy into a triumph or to reimagine injustice into a call to action. Chloë Rogers, however, is someone who can. Born and raised in Chicago, the 28-year old is a former employee at Google who left her job there to pursue a passion with a purpose.
Today, Rogers is unveiling the launch of her new mobile networking app, COMMUNITYx(Cx), at the Cx Social Impact Summit at Santa Clara University. The event will be the first-time hundreds of young activists will come together to engage in conversations around issues that are most pressing, particularly as we venture into the 2020 elections.
Young people making prominent and successful inroads in social justice movements across the world like climate change, racial justice, women’s rights, gun control, and mental health will talk about how they’ve done it and how others can do it too. Then once they leave, these young activists can stay connected through the app, which will help them mobilize efforts and ensure all the talk leads to tangible action.
To understand how the Rogers got here, you must first understand her story. As a freshman at Howard University, Rogers began working as the Community Service Director for the School of Business, connecting students with volunteer opportunities within various non-profits in he DC-metro area. In 2010, she also took on an internship at the Haitian embassy helping to manage their disaster relief center after the traumatic earthquake that devastated the country.
“That’s when I first realized that when it comes to social impact and social justice issues, tech could be really helpful, especially when it comes to collecting data,” says Rogers in an interview with theGrio.
After a year of volunteering and a brief dalliance at an oil and gas company, Rogers took an internship at Google during her junior year and realized that she loved everything about Silicon Valley and tech.
“I had so many ideas I wanted to explore within that space. That’s what drove me to accept the full-time offer from them when I graduated,” she says.
After working for the tech giant for a number of years, Rodgers began thinking of ways to better connect to her peers around issues that were most important to them. The idea came to her after seeing news reports about the 2014 shooting death of an unarmed Black teen in Ferguson, Missouri.
“I was at work and everybody on my floor had the news on their big monitors and I kept seeing the still frame of Michael Brown’s lifeless body lying on the street. Words cannot describe how I felt in that moment,” says Rogers.
“I knew that I had friends at Google who were Black and I wanted to connect with them in that moment. I went to the Black Googlers online network and thought I would join the conversation, but there was nothing there. I started asking my friends, why is no one talking about this? What I found out is that everyone was scared to talk about it internally.”
It was just impossible for me to ignore what happened to him and even harder for me to not do anything about it.
Rogers went home that day and talked to her father about her frustrations. He encouraged her to figure out a solution that would make her feel better. This from the man who, for years, has had his own frustrations to surmount.
Growing up, Rogers watched her father (who is African American) suffer from the physical and psychological pain of being misidentified by the Chicago Police. Rogers tells the story that in 1989, her dad was at home in Hyde Park getting ready to work the night shift when several plain clothes Chicago police officers raided his home. They shot him over a dozen times only to realize later that they had the wrong address. He wasn’t supposed to make it through the night, especially after enduring 10 surgeries in a 72-hour period. While her dad remains physically handicapped from that unfortunate event, his will has allowed him to fight for years to clear his name. His tragedy became Rogers childhood reality.
“I watch him in pain every day,” says Rogers. “The bullet fragment in his body can never be removed otherwise he will become a quadriplegic. It was just impossible for me to ignore what happened to him and even harder for me to not do anything about it.”
Rogers credits her parents, especially her father as the inspiration behind COMMUNITYx, which she founded in 2018. With the help of mentors like former U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, (who is also a family friend), she has successfully combined her interest in tech with her passion for social justice and created a space where data can be used to connect like-minded allies to explore possible solutions.
“When I first had the idea, it took a lot of self-control for me to be able to not want to jump at every possible opportunity that could help make this into a reality,” says Rogers.
“I had to develop a discerning filter about certain things because in my heart, I wanted to do whatever it took to make this company possible, but I had to be very diligent and make sure the opportunity was appropriately aligned with what we are about.”
Rogers has partnered with a number of different organizations in order to make today’s Summit a success. Besides diversity and inclusion, participants and stakeholders will discuss the climate crisis, prison reform, and the hottest of hot button issues, the 2020 election. COMMUNITYx plans to be in the thick of the voter registration movement, working on ways to leverage their technology to help that and other efforts become more effective. It’s just another way the millennial generation is using their love for all things digital to change the world for the better.
For more information on COMMUNITYx, visit communityx.tech and download the Cx app (on iOS and Android in the Apple Store or Google Play) for free.