Wichita Urban Professionals (ICT-UP) has begun revitalizing its programming around its mission of developing and maintaining a network of Black leaders in Wichita.
What began as an idea of Johnathan Long, a Wichita transplant, and a few friends in 2013 has developed into a growing professional network for Black leaders aged 25-40 to share ideas, obtain professional development training, and collaborate to overcome many of the challenges the Black community faces.
“ Jonathan, like many other young African-American professionals, looked for a support network of people that looked like them,” said Danielle Johnson, Executive Director of Wichita Habitat for Humanity and ICT-UP’s Networking Squad’s chairperson.“ ICT-UP creates a space where they can find each other and share common experiences as well as build their networks.”
The structure of ICT-UP allows members to choose their level of involvement. By joining one of five squads, members can support the group in developing programs and events. Additionally, members can choose to participate in programs that fit their schedules and personal and professional objectives.
The five squads each take on different task reflecting the ICT-UP pillars.
The Leadership Squad, headed by Johnson, Long and the other squad chairs, oversees and guides ICT-UP’s mission and vision. This squad serves as the top of the reporting structure and participation is by appointment only.
The Networking Squad is responsible for creating and executing ICT-UP’s dynamic social networking opportunities for Black professionals to engage further and build relationships throughout the greater business community.
The Professional Development Squad aims to connect larger organizations, boards, etc., to a strong network of Black professionals to help them develop new skills, stay up-to-date on current trends, and advance their career.
The Community Outreach/Membership Squad maintains ICT-UP’s member information and finds ways for them to get involved and build relationships with other organizations through volunteer opportunities.
The College Engagement Squad serves as a bridge between ICT-UP and Wichita’s various universities. They provide programs focused on mentor matching/shadowing and professional development for college students.
ICT-UP is part of the Community Operations Recovery Empowerment (CORE) program, which aims to improve Wichita’s economic development, academic success, civic engagement, and family involvement by collaborating with local organizations.
Outside of networking and professional development events, ICT-UP is looking to engage the community in ways that will have a long-lasting impact on the next generation of Black leaders in Wichita.
With this passion, ICT-UP has sponsored several community events initiatives over the last year and a half, including hosting a panel discussion on increasing Black community civic engagement including in the City of Wichita’s development process with the WSU Office of Engagement.
In August, in collaboration with the Kansas African American Museum and the Wichita Public Library, ICT-UP hosted a “Jim Crow Strikes Out” softball game in recognition of the historical 1925 exhibition game between the KKK and all-Black Wichita Monrovians. The collaboration brought a diverse group of Wichitans together for an evening of food, fun, and fellowship at McAdams Park.
In 2022, Johnson says each ICT-UP squad will begin hosting more squad-related’s programming and continue to collaborate with other community organizations.
Are you interested in becoming a member? Visit https://www.ictup.org/ for more information about ICT-UP and to fill out a membership form. Membership dues are $30 annually and can be paid via CashApp: $ictup2