Investing in Impactful Solutions
IMPACT REPORT 2021
• Nature Based Solutions: Recompose
• High Impact Education: AllHere
7 25 15
How We Think About Impact
Mission and Vision
• Theory of Change
•PeoplePeople-First Communities: Pallet Shelter
Growing the Impact Ecosystem
• Investment Process
• Process: Impact Scorecard Diversity, Inclusion,Equity,andJustice
• Closing the Capital Gap for BIPOC
Investing in Innovative Solutions
• Impact Frameworks
Investing with Gratitude 3 19 23
•PlanetCircular Materials: Mango Materials
Entrepreneurs: Ruthless for Good Fund
1Investing With Gratitude
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Gratitude Railroad was founded in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Our founders met in 2013 among a vibrant community of changemakers at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative. Devoted to collaboration, innovation, and action-orientation, they started Gratitude Railroad with a vision to harness the power of capitalism to address the most pressing challenges and to reimagine a system that has failed so many communities and harmed so many ecosystems.
Our greatest crises may indeed lie ahead of us: climate disaster, increasing racial injustice and wealth inequality, declining social fabric in our communities. The time to take action is now. We are proud to serve as a trusted resource and community for investors who are committed and ready to move their capital from traditional portfolios into impact investments. We are excited and honored to continue building our investment platform to accelerate the flow of capital into equitable and innovative solutions that lay a foundation for a more prosperous society and planet.
We are excited to share our first impact report with everyone. This report outlines how we think about impact across our
Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has and the deep desire to leverage one’s financial, intellectual, and human capital to drive impact.
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team, community, and investments, and what steps we are taking to embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) across all three pillars. As we continue to evolve how we qualify, integrate, and measure impact throughout our investment process, this report serves as a critical moment of reflection to showcase the outcomes our community and investments have generated this year.
With Gratitude, The GRR Team
We achieve our mission in two ways:
Growing the Impact Ecosystem by convening investors, fund managers, service providers with access to capital, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs to discuss critical issue areas and take actions around investable opportunities. Our community-driven approach to investing and shared learning catalyzes capital to fund remarkable founders and innovative solutions. and Vision
Railroad, our mission is to reshape capitalism to create a just, resilient, and thriving world that centers racial and gender equity.
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Investing in Impactful Solutions by operating an alternative investing platform that supports early-stage impact startups and impact infrastructure investments, with a focus on ensuring equitable access to those seeking funding.
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Our vision is to refocus the intention of capitalism on being a force for the greater good.
Over the years, our impact measurement and management has evolved to embody a deeper focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. We continue to leverage the Gratitude Railroad community of investors to drive impact along with positive financial outcomes for our portfolio companies. As we move forward, we aim to adopt impact verification at the firm level and ensure increased equity and access for underrepresented leaders.
How3We Think About Impact
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Mapping outcomesmeasurabletorealizeour vision of shifting a critical mass of capital from traditional finance to impact investing.
We developed a theory of change to guide our organization and stakeholders toward our long-term goals and the short-term objectives that collectively move us toward our impact goals. We continually revisit these practices to ensure we remain focused on evolving and adapting our strategic activities to realize the change we are committed to as a firm.
Theory of Change
Gratitude Railroad Partners and Fund LPs
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Investment funds align impact and financial performance at scale across asset classes and issue areas
Railroad Investments, Early-stage Direct Investing, and Impact Infrastructure
Companies across stages deliver net-positive impact and uniformly benefit all stakeholders
mass of capital is shifted traditional to impact investments
Reshaping capitalism to create a just, resilient, and thriving world that centers racial and gender equity
Major financial system have the capacity to support the capital transition from traditional into impact
Business is intrinsically restructured so that its purpose is to generate positive social and environmental impact at scale
Asset owners from retail to institutional are equipped with the resources and opportunities to invest their human capital across asset classes in alignment with higher
GatheringsConvene withCollaboratePartners Invest in Venture CapitalHumanFinancialCatalyzeandCapital 1 42 53 6 Seed Intermediaries,Managers,FundandInnovativeFinancialToolsGratitude
Gratitude Railroad Dinner Series, Retreat and Convenings
Our work is centered on 6 core tracks:
A platform of impactful investing vehicles and opportunities to support capital flow
Advisors and intermediaries are structured to support investors making a shift from traditional to impact capital
Awareness of mainstream investors is raised to include compassionate, collaborative, and inclusive investing
Community built of diverse impact investors committed to shifting capital and sharing networks and expertise
A pipeline built of “de-risked” funds funds, ventures, intermediariesand
+ Detailed Theory of Change per investment
We look at impact through two lenses:
What a Business Does
+ B Corp certification for GRR’s management company
How a Business Operates
We define each company's unique theory of change and align their objectives with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the B Corp Methodology, which adopts a whole stakeholder approach.
+ Industry collaboration on impact measurement and management through Impact Capital Managers
We seek to invest in companies that are building products or services that positively address social and environmental challenges, implementing a systems-thinking approach while providing a market-based solution.
+ 2-3 impact KPIs identified and aligned to the UN SDGs
+ Internal impact reporting for investment team
+ Impact scorecard to determine if a potential investment moves through diligence
+ Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice integration into GRR’s entire investment process
+ Impact Verification through 3rd party using the operating principals for impact management
+ Impact reporting expanded to include existing and prospective investors
+ Updated impact scorecard to include Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice and focus on impact outcomes
+ Leverage the GRR Community to create meaningful connections to drive deeper impact outcomes
Investment Post Investment Due Diligence Investment Decision Reporting Management Annual Report 2021 10Gratitude Railroad10
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B Corps do business differently. They are for-profit companies leading a movement to leverage the power of capitalism to solve the most pressing global challenges. As a B Corp, we strive to meet the highest verified standards of transparency and accountability. Our ethos is that a company’s performance should not just be measured by profit, but also consider performance as it is related to the well-being of people and the planet.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
The UN Sustainable Development Goals, or commonly referred to as the UN SDGs, are a collection of 17 global goals designed to serve as a roadmap to create a better and more sustainable world. As we consider the societal, environmental, and financial returns of our portfolio, the UN SDGs provide a framework for us to assess impact.
Our Impact Scorecard integrates key impact metrics that are measured alongside a business and financial scorecard. These scores are used to not only determine if we move forward with due diligence, but also what areas we need to further diligence and validate to ultimately build conviction in the investment.
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Does the company have the potential to create a larger and more meaningful impact than its competitors?
Is the product or service benefiting underserved and underrepresented minorities?
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Product and Service
Are employees given a living wage or above and provided with health and other benefits?
Employee How representative of underserved and underrepresented minorities is the employee composition?
Is this a band-aid solution or will their success disrupt the status quo? Responsible Supply chain
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Have the founders developed a credible mission with a clear theory of change with measurable impact outcomes?
How representative of underserved and underrepresented minorities is the leadership team?
Are they sourcing products from facilities audited to a social responsibility code of conduct and/or certified to a third party environmental standard?
How much do company operations benefit the surrounding community? Employee
Has the company partnered with mission aligned NGOs and/or received or are applying for relevant certifications (Bcorp, etc)?
Product & Services
Does this product solving a social or environmental problem and have a 1:1 correlation between impact and revenue?
What is the environmental footprint production and use of this product or service?
Does the leadership team have a credible mission towards prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in the company?
Aligned Impact Investors Have they brought on mission aligned investors?
Social and Environmental
Do the founders come from lived experience of the communities they are Didserving?they involve the beneficiary community in the concept and origin of the company?
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
The last several years of social unrest and racial reckoning forced us to grapple with the ways in which we may have perpetuated inequality and exclusivity. How and where our capital was being deployed limited access to those who needed it the most—in particular, Black, Brown, and Indigenous leaders and those with proximity to the issue areas we were trying to address. By taking part in the systemic underfunding of BIPOC founders and fund managers, we failed to share our power and privilege. Our culture was not inclusive of diverse perspectives as a convener and investment firm. Now we aim to do better.
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Our organization hired a consulting firm in 2019 to help us put together an action plan across three areas: Our Organization, Our Community of Investors, and Our Investments. By addressing these three pillars, we are creating a foundation of shifting who holds power in making investment decisions, who benefits from our investment decisions, and ultimately who creates wealth through the return on investments while driving toward the greatest social and environmental impact.
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Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
• 55% of our advisors identify as women or BIPOC Venture Partners (3 people)
• 80% of our team identifies as women. 20% identifies as BIPOC Advisors (11 people)
• Managing Partner participated in Capital Collaborative, which brings together White funders and investors who are ready to critically examine and deepen their and their organization's commitment to racial and gender equity.
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• 66% of venture partners identify as women or BIPOC
2021 DEI Goals
• Signed onto Confluence Philanthropy’s Belonging Pledge, which represents $1.9T in AUM that is devoted to investing with a racial equity lens.
GRR Management Team (5 people)
• Signed onto Due Diligence 2.0, an industry wide initiative to shift due diligence processes to catalyze more capital to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) fund managers
• Hosted Gender Lens Fund Manager Showcase, a continuation of the series “Advancing Diversity in Asset Management”, which aims to close critical funding gaps for underrepresented managers by featuring 10 compelling gender lens funds.
VC Funding Gap for BIPOC
The investment team spent time reevaluating and adapting each stage of our investment process to better align with our DEIJ goals. Over the past year, we have engaged peers and a DEIJ subcommittee of advisors to solicit feedback and insights that will help us rethink, and renew our practices to reduce bias, bolster inclusion, and eventually lead to strong representation in the portfolio across races and genders.
• If we don't have a rigorous and authentic DEIJ mandate and process, we are unlikely to attract deal flow from diverse managers
Gratitude Railroad has identified three primary reasons to embed equity into the DNA, investment practices, and operations of our business:
• Proximate, diverse teams tend to bring the lived experience necessary to drive the best solutions to generate outsized, systemic impact
• Companies with representative management teams are more innovative, creative, resilient, empathetic and retentive, driving productivity, performance, and long-term value
• Homogenous teams inherently have a narrower perspective and experience set that limits their ability to perceive risk and problem solve effectively
• Amplify impact by investing in the next generation of BIPOC leadership
• If we have an explicit focus on DEIJ, we believe we will uncover otherwise missed opportunities
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We seek to address diversity broadly, spanning considerations around how we conduct diligence, how we assess and qualify impact, and how we make investment decisions to understanding who benefits from products and services, and how stakeholders are impacted by the operations of the business. While our specific goals and targets remain iterative, we have decided, as a team, that we would like to prioritize companies who have demonstrated a commitment to equity at all levels of the organization and offer guidance and accountability to those who are earlier on in their “DEIJ journey.”
Our Investment Process and Portfolio
+ Increasing founder and CEO representation in our portfolio across races and genders
+ Supporting early-stage businesses that explicitly close equity gaps and improve quality of life, access, and opportunity for underserved groups
in our portfolio have at least one BIPOC or Female Founder or CEO
+ Reducing bias and the impact of bias in diligence process to assess opportunities as objectively as possible
+ Partnering with funds and intermediaries that are well-suited to address issues of equity and inclusion
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At a high-level, the improvements we have incorporated into our process drive toward the following outcomes:
2021 By the Numbers EcosystemImpact800Investors,Builders, and Academics Attended one GRR event of70%Speakers were gender or racially diverse Underrepresented24 Fund Managers Highlighted Educational13 and Ecosystem Building Events Events Hosted Across 8 Impact Area 5 Gratitude Railroad Annual Report 2021 19
We believe in the power of an inspired and informed community to create deep transformational impact. As a communitydriven impact investing platform, our approach centers on collaboration and shared learning. We bring together investors, collaborators, contributors, and our greater ecosystem to explore impact areas, convene ideas, discuss investment opportunities, and deploy capital into innovative solutions.
Growing the Impact Ecosystem
Asset Owners (Individuals, Family Offices, Foundations, and Endowments) and Service Providers (Advisors, Wealth managers) starting to consider impact investing
NGOs, Academics, Entrepreneurs, Fund Managers, Advisors, Business Leaders, Sustainability Leaders, Students
Investors actively deploying capital in GRR platform, Partners & Fund LPs, Advisors, Portfolio Companies, Impact Infrastructure Partners
Asset Owners & Service Providers that are engaged and active in impact investing
Member organizations that we’ve joined forces with:
This work takes a village, and our collaborative approach has proven to be successful in sourcing more deals with greater impact. Our engagement strategy aligns economic influence with social and environmental solutions to create a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient economy.
Inspired by natural ecosystems, our approach to impact investing is collaborative and inclusive.
We grow and strengthen the impact investment movement by developing authentic relationships with industry experts, coinvestors, impact leaders and member organizations.
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+ Equitable and Affordable Housing
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+ Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture
Our events are designed to support investor development and improve their knowledge, resources, and connections to shift capital into impactful companies, funds, and intermediaries. Gathering regularly, both virtually and in-person, we host discussions about key social and environmental issue areas, convening thought leaders, academics, fund managers, and industry experts to share investment opportunities as actionable solutions.
+ Reimagining Capitalism
+ Impact Measurement and Management
+ Alternative Financing
We empower traditional investors with the knowledge and tools to explore and practice impact investing.
In 2021, we hosted landscape reviews, panel conversations, fireside chats, and a fund manager showcase, centered on the following impact areas:
+ Gender Lens Investing
+ Education + Climate
Impact Areas Economy Inclusion Equity
As part of our impact infrastructure platform, we help catalyze new funds and intermediaries that are on a mission to bring more capital into the impact space. In 2021 we helped seed two funds: Camelback Ventures Ruthless for Good Fund and Skipping Stone Capital Partners. Venture capital and search funds are two spaces that we believe, with an intentional impact lens, can drive value for even more early-stage startups and small businesses that are the economic engine of our Tocommunity.date,wehave catalyzed $500M into impact through our direct investment and impact infrastructure platform.
UN SDGs: 1 / 2 / 3 / 5 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 14
In 2021, we invested in six high-impact companies. Five out of six of these companies are female led, and two out of six are BIPOC led. Funding for these investments was syndicated from the Gratitude community which is comprised of 20 Investment Partners and 30 Gratitude Fund LPs.
+ Water + Climate + Housing + Financial
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Our investments cover a broad spectrum of impact areas, sectors, and industries. We look for investment opportunities that are innovative and inclusive, increase access, implement a systems-thinking approach, and generate positive social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
+ Healthcare + Education + Food & Agriculture + Circular
FIRST WOMEN’S BANK
Founder: Valerie Mosley HQ: Boston, Massachusetts Sector: Financial Inclusion
Early-stage fund investing in BIPOC entrepreneurs at the forefront of conscious tech
Capital Raised: $12M
Capital Raised: $15M
Founders: Athena Kiriacopoulou and Maximo Cubilette HQ: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Capital Raised: $30M
Commercial bank on a mission to close gender equity gap Stage: Pre-Revenue
Founder: Amy King HQ: Everett, Washington Sector:
Founder: Melissa Widen HQ: Chicago, Illinois Sector: Financial Inclusion
Founder: Aaron Walker HQ: New Orleans, Louisiana
expert guidance and digital tools to identify and empower caregivers Stage: Early Revenue
Founder: Manik Suri HQ: San Francisco, California Sector:
& natural disaster crisis with dignified shelters Stage: Growth Stage
Impact Area: Education, Future of Work, Health
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Emotionally intelligent financial wellness benefit provider Stage: Early Revenue
Impact Area: Search Fund
that monitor the efficiency of the global cold chain Stage: Early Revenue
Capital Raised: $2M
Founder: Erin Rothman HQ: Seattle, Washington Sector:
LeveragesSTORMSENSORsoftwareto help monitor and manager water infrastructure Stage: Early Revenue
Impact search fund looking to grow a unique and impactful company
President & CEO: Shara Cohen, JD HQ: Seattle, Washington Sector: Health Equity
Capital Raised: $1.5M
Capital Raised: $15M
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We believe in a new model for business where entrepreneurs leverage their unique lived experiences to disrupt a broken system; people and the planet are considered equally as important as profit; diverse founders and fund managers are the decision makers; and longterm value is created by prioritizing the wellbeing of all stakeholders.
Plans to build out debt financed facility in Washington State for Licensescalabilityvessel
Reduced carbon footprint saves over 1 metric ton of carbon per person who chooses RC over cremation or burial +
system for licensed funeral operators 21
48% of Americans choose conventional burial; a practice that requires intensive manufacturing and transportation of caskets, headstones, and grave liners, all of which are designed to preclude natural decomposition. Furthermore, maintenance of burial grounds requires significant irrigation, fuel for mowing, and chemicals for preservation. The alternative to burial is cremation, which burns fossil fuels and emits carbon dioxide. The energy required to cremate a body roughly equals the amount of fuel it takes to drive 4,800 miles, translating to a cumulative 600M lbs. of CO2 emitted each year. The funeral industry, and its negative impact on the environment, is ripe for disruption.
Land restoration projects in need of biomass are given nutrient rich soil from excess human compost that families do not wish to keep +
Nature Based Solutions Recompose
Recompose utilizes the principles of nature to return bodies back to the land while sequestering carbon. Through a process called Natural Organic Reduction (NOR) or “human composting”, the body is placed in a cradle surrounded by wood chips, alfalfa, and straw, and over the course of 30 days, microbes - which occur naturally in our bodies and in the environment – break everything down on a molecular level. The result: nutrient dense soil. Returning the nutrients from our bodies to the natural world restores forests, sequesters carbon, and nourishes new life on the planet.
YEAR OF INVESTMENT 2020 IMPACT AREA Circular Economy SDGS 11 & 12
Accessible burial by decreasing costs by roughly 50% from $25,000 for conventional burial to only $7500 for RC process +
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Circular Materials Mango Materials
We have primarily relied on petroleum-derived polymers to create durable and elastic plastic products. Petroplastic is ubiquitous and will outlive its creators by an unconscionable multiple of decades. Microplastics pollute our waterways, food systems, marine ecosystems, and wilderness, eventually find their way into our bodies. By 2050, estimates predict there will be more pounds of plastic than fish in the ocean. Recycling petro-plastics requires energy and excludes many materials that cannot be repurposed.
Awarded $3M contract from NASA's CCRPP program to Earthcommercializationmethane-to-PHAadvanceonandbeyond +
YEAR OF INVESTMENT 2020 IMPACT AREA Circular Economy SDGS 12, 14
Commercialized PHA sales through release of soap dish by Natura's Biome line of ecofriendly products +
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Mango Materials is on a mission to save the planet from polluting plastic with next - generation fully biodegradable materials. Biopolymers are naturally occurring polymers derived from natural inputs. Polyhydroxylalkanoate (“PHA”) is one such family of naturally occurring biopolysters that are produced by bacteria. Mango Materials invented a methane-based PHA that is backyard compostable, marine-degradable, and can be used for most plastic applications. Using methane emissions from wastewater treatment facilities as a feedstock for PHA production, Mango Materials transforms the most potent GHG emission into a catalyst for a sustainable material, doubling the impact of their biopolymer. Mango’s edge is pushing the limits of what is possible to drive innovation for the greatest systems-level impact.
Impact Building cabins&palletcommunities,people-firstwith82+villageserectedshipped,and2,226+built+
Hiring system impacted staff, 80% of Pallet employees have lived experience of homelessness +
Over half a million Americans face housing insecurity on any given day, while unsheltered homelessness is up 30% since 2015. Most people experiencing homelessness lack an effective exit pathway to low-income or supportive housing. A lack of housing adversely impacts a person’s physical and mental health, and chronic homelessness can reduce life expectancy by 20-30 years. Homelessness disproportionately impacts Black and Brown communities, as well as veterans and formerly incarcerated individuals.
People-first Communities Pallet Shelter
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Offering ancillary products including bathrooms, common spaces, and kitchens to become a onestop temporary housing solution for cities and states
YEAR OF INVESTMENT 2021 IMPACT AREA Resilient HomelessnessCommunities, SDGS 1, 8, 10, 11
Entering new municipalities and veteran housing
Leveraging their products for disaster relief efforts 321
Pallet Shelter builds dignified, personal shelters at speed and scale to combat homelessness across the country. Pallet’s panelized shelters can be assembled in under 30 minutes and are an effective pathway toward more permanent housing solutions. Their single residences can be locked and offer privacy while being within a more inclusive community setting. Pallet community members also receive access to wraparound services including job support, housing navigation, and mental health counseling. Pallet also employs system-impacted individuals and those with the lived experience of homelessness to both design and build their shelters.
High Impact Education AllHere
AllHere is a personalized text messaging solution for chronic absenteeism, designed to support families and students to and through school, across the digital divide. AllHere provides a comprehensive solution for schools and districts to improve attendance, which has a direct impact on improved learning outcomes. This is achieved through AllHere’s platform which uses research of climate, culture, student, and family needs to provide a comprehensive and proprietary understanding of the causes and conditions that lead to chronic absenteeism.
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Advanced counseling for student enrollment to adjust for historic pandemic era declines 1
YEAR OF INVESTMENT 2020 IMPACT AREA Education SDGS 4, 10
Chronic absenteeism, which is defined as missing 10% or more days of school in a year, impacts millions of publicschool students across the United States. Differences in reporting absenteeism have resulted in a lack of data that makes it harder for districts to address the problem, given they don’t truly know the size and scale of the problem. What is certain, however, is that since the onset of the pandemic, the number of chronically absent students has nearly Mountainsdoubled.ofresearch
connect chronic absenteeism to lower academic results, reduced emotional engagement, and a higher likelihood of dropping out of high school. Disproportionately affecting students of color, chronic absenteeism exacerbates existing inequalities, further stratifying education outcomes by race and class.
Personalized text messaging interventions to support every student at every stage in their K-12 education 2
Educated 12k+ school and district leaders on andstudentframeworkandtransformativeevidence-basedforimprovingoutcomesin2021beyond +
Improved attendance in 64% percent of schools in one of the Top 20 Urban School Districts (by total student enrollment) +
The Ruthless for Good Fund, “RFG Fund”, is a $30M pre-seed and seed fund addressing the capital gap for underrepresented founders. The RFG fund invests primarily in education and the future of work that prioritizes “conscious tech” and innovations that improve access, opportunity, and well-being for historically underinvested communities. With a deep-held belief that “genius is equally distributed, but opportunity is not” the RFG Fund seeks solutions that are informed by the understanding of how race, class, and privilege impact communities and value entrepreneurs with proximity to issue areas in leadership roles.
YEAR OF INVESTMENT 2021 IMPACT AREA Financial Inclusion SDGS 3, 4, 8 and 10
Continue winning deals and building interest from Black founders 4
Raised 13M of the targeted $30M Fund 1, with 25 LPs, including, Spring Point Partners, Dell Foundation, Blue Cross, Stardust, Candide Group, and Kapor Capital
Fundraising from valuesaligned LPs who want to support their investment
Closing the Capital Gap for BIPOC Entrepreneurs Ruthless for Good Fund
Impact Making investments to fund 7 theentrepreneursBIPOCaddressingfutureofwork
People of color have faced economic inequality and have been systemically locked out of financial opportunities for centuries. One area that has received significant attention is the lack of venture capital dollars funding BIPOC entrepreneurs and founders. In 2021, a record $137 billion was invested in US startups, but just 1.2% going to Black entrepreneurs. Major VCs are risk-averse and look for existing track records to measure success prior to making an investment. BIPOC entrepreneurs often do not have access to a “friends and family” pre-seed round that is critical for them to get their ventures off the ground.
capital with a focus on education and access31
Building a website and digital presence
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CONTACT Liv firstname.lastname@example.orgKronemeyergratitude-railroadgratituderailroad.com