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How Urban Philly Professional Network supports the city’s young civic leaders

A UPPN mixer. June 14, 2016 Category: PurposeShort
Networking events can be lame. Sulaiman Rahman‘s networking events are not. 

First, the proof:

Second, the person behind it: Rahman is the founder and CEO — that’s Chief Empowerment Officer — of Urban Philly Professional Network, a social enterprise meant to “engage, empower and connect” professionals age 25 to 45 who are looking to expand their careers and increase their civic engagement. UPPN hosts events such as monthly after-work mixers, arts and culture experiences and professional development programs.

UPPN originated as Urban Philly, a website Rahman started while in college in 2000. He found that few of his fellow Penn students hailed from Philadelphia and were coming to him, a native of the Far Northeast, to ask what events were happening in the city. Urban Philly promoted events of interest to “young, upwardly mobile professionals in the city” just entering their careers in an expanse of sectors and grew to have 30,000 subscribers — mostly African Americans — according to Rahman.

Rahman expanded UPPN’s focus to encourage young professionals be more actively involved in their city. Its #BlackVotersMatter initiative has hosted forums at which politicians running for local office speak about their policies, such as a congressional debate held in March.

UPPN political event

A UPPN political event. (Courtesy photo)

“More than anything, we want to educate on the candidates [so voters can] make a more informed decision,” Rahman said.

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And because Rahman is co-chair of the Democratic National Convention’s volunteer committee, about 700 people were recruited from UPPN to volunteer, he said. 

UPPN is also about to launch a board prep and matching program called “Diverse Force for Good” in order to create a “pipeline of talent” from UPPN’s membership to local nonprofits, Rahman said. The program will help emerging professionals who aren’t typically asked to be on nonprofit boards to “develop and grow their leadership skills,” while helping nonprofits diversify their boards — something that needs to happen throughout the impact sector.

Tomorrow night, UPPN will receive a $10,500 grant to launch Diverse Force for Good from BMe, a national network that champions Black men. Check out the event here.

Want to get involved? Subscribe to UPPN’s newsletter to find out about upcoming events and opportunities. The group’s next mixer will be held this Friday.

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