The Founder Institute team has taken the past few weeks to think deliberately about how we, as an organization, can begin to respond meaningfully to the racial inequities in our society and improve our support for racially underrepresented founders, and to do so on a sustainable, long term basis.
Borrowing methodologies from our Female Founder Initiative, which has helped to significantly increase the number of women business leaders in our accelerator programs, we are announcing the launch of the Black American Founder Fellowship for all of our U.S. chapters, forever.
Through this program, any Black American Founder in the United States who is building a startup (or who has an idea for a startup) can apply to any Founder Institute chapter in the United States for free below, and the top applicants in each program will receive free access to our pre-seed accelerator program.
Interested Founders can see the currently enrolling chapters at FI.co/enrolling, and apply for the Fellowship at FI.co/join/BlackAmerican.
Why This Is Necessary
The benefits of freedom and the free market are accessible by too few. Not only is this immoral, it also limits our progress and potential as a society.
Providing a fellowship for Black American founders will help make entrepreneurship more accessible, and it will also improve the potential outcomes for all founders in the Founder Institute program.
Consider the following:
Diverse founding teams regularly outperform homogenous leadership. This leads to added economic value and the potential for better outcomes through Founder Institute’s equity collective.
Intentionally including Black Americans in our pre-seed accelerator program provides everyone an opportunity to expand their startup network. This leads to exponential results on the diversification of the global technological landscape.
Founder Institute continually seeks to improve, and this fellowship is one part of our plan to make the program more inclusive.
Supporting Black Entrepreneurship in the Long Run
We are not stopping with just a fellowship. We know we can do more to help Black American entrepreneurs, and we will.
However, we are also not naive enough to think we have all the answers, or that we can ever fully understand the inherent challenges facing Black founders in the U.S. today.
We are open to receiving feedback from the Black community on how we can improve our processes, and will be collaborating with many in our network over the coming weeks to formulate new ideas and make the needed adjustments. To kick off this process, we will host an open discussion on August 18th titled 'How Startup Organizations Can Better Help Black American Entrepreneurs.'
In addition, for Black History Month this year we released a Black Startup Ecosystem Canvas, and we recently started offering dedicated Office Hours for Black American Founders.
Finally, we are making a pledge to increase the number of Black American leaders and Mentors across our U.S. chapters. Through our Female Founder Initiative, we saw the positive impact that having female leaders and mentors had on creating more gender diverse cohorts. As such, we plan to form strategic partnerships with Black American organizations to increase black leadership throughout our U.S. programs.
We recognize that to truly provide opportunities to founders from every race we need to support a drastic course correction to undo the systematic racial inequalities and injustices built into the constructs of the United States, which is also evident in the startup world.
We are trying to do our part, and as always, we are open to feedback.