A weekly roundup of fund, accelerator and incubator news

Welcome to The Hub, your spot for venture capital, accelerator and incubator news. In this news roundup, we’ll provide you with the latest on organizations working to support, educate and fund innovators and their ideas. We’ll highlight cohort applications, people to know in the incubator world and programs working to give resources to those who typically don’t have access elsewhere. As always, we’re focused on underrepresented entrepreneurs — such as women, people of color, and those geographically outside power centers — and organizations supporting these demographics. 

Have a piece of news or a job listing you think will fit into this roundup? Email it to Skyler Rossi at srossi@timesofe.com.

Program For 1,200 Black Founders

1863 Ventures, a Washington-D.C.-based nonprofit focused on funding those who have been historically marginalized, has recently launched two programs that will give $850,000 and mentoring to Black founders, according to a news release. Melissa Bradley, the firm’s founder, told Times of Entrepreneurship last summer that while she appreciates the effort of new funds for people of color, she has her doubts. Instead of “another PR stunt,” funds ought to be going to groups who have been doing the work already. Some institutional investors were listening.

READ MORE: Conversations With Black VCs: ‘We Don’t Need Another PR Stunt’

The program, called 3Rs — Recovery, Rebuild and Resilience — is funded by Capital One and the Rockefeller Foundation. Capital One’s investment will provide $5,000 grants to 100 Black entrepreneurs in the D.C. area and the Rockefeller Foundation’s investment will provide an additional 1,200 entrepreneurs in 14 cities across the country funding and mentorship. The DC program commenced in November, but Black entrepreneurs in the following cities can apply for the Rockefeller-funded program, which will begin in April:

  • Oakland, California
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • El Paso, Texas
  • Gainesville, Florida
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Houston, Texas
  • Miami-Dade, Florida
  • Norfolk, Virginia,
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Jackson, Mississippi 
  • D.C. Metropolitan Region

Paskho Heads South With Help Of Souls Grown Deep

Quilters in Gee’s Bend, Alabama

The Souls Grown Deep Foundation and Community Partnership, an Atlanta-based nonprofit working to support and advocate for African American artists, made a $600,000 investment in Hudson, New York-based Paskho, a Black-owned lifestyle apparel company with a commitment to employing U.S. textile workers, the foundation announced in a news release last week. 

The quiet powerhouse behind the deal is Laura Callanan, the founder of New York City-based Upstart Co-Lab, a group working to get more funds in the hands of creatives. Souls Grown Deep was the first institutional investor in  Upstart’s member community. 

Souls Grown Deep owns more than 1,300 works created by Black artists from the southern United States, the largest collection of its kind, it says. The grant is part of its 2019 pledge to commit its endowment to promoting racial and social justice. In 2019, the endowment was $1 million; it has since grown to more than double that level as the foundation places pieces in major art museums around the world, according to Callanan.

Paskho plans to create a “production pod” in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, home of a large quilting community where more than 100 of Souls Grown Deep’s artists have lived and worked. The area has historically been underrepresented and geographically isolated, causing the average income to be about $12,000 a year. With Souls Grown Deep’s funds, Paskho plans to create a coworking space as well as job opportunities for makers there. Souls Grown Deep has worked with other nonprofits to market artists’ work in the area over the past year, which has generated over $500,000 in income for the quilters in the community.


North Michigan University Incubator Receives $320k Grant

Invent@NMU, a business incubator housed at North Michigan University, recently received a $320,000 grant from The Michigan Strategic Fund, which will be used to support entrepreneurs in the Upper Peninsula, according to a North Michigan University news release. Specifically, the grant will pay students who work at the incubator and to educate the community on entrepreneurship, according to North Michigan University spokesperson Nicole Johnson. The incubator, which is led by students and professionals at Innovate Marquette Smartzone, supports students and community members’ business ideas. 

People to Know

Aazia Mickens-Dessaso is the new executive director of ecosystem development for the recently-launched Hampton Roads program, a collaboration between Virginia Beach, Virginia-based 757 Accelerate and Boulder, Colorado-based accelerator Techstars, the Virginian Pilot reports. The program will connect founders with peers, investors and resources. A serial entrepreneur, Mickens-Dessaso is the founder of FreePing, a software company she pitched to “Shark Tank” investors at the White House in 2015, which is now defunct, and Agile Advantage, a software products and consulting company. Mickens-Dessaso plans to interview 100 entrepreneurs in 100 days to create programs and funding for the Hampton Roads community, the Pilot reports.  

Open Applications

Free, Virtual Employment Social Enterprises Incubator 

San Francisco-based accelerator REDF is accepting applications for its 2021 cohort. The program is seeking employment social enterprises to offer support and connections in the industry. The 5-month program will be held virtually this year and is free. Selected entrepreneurs will also receive a “small grant” and access to its alumni network following the end of the program, according to its website. Applications are due March 29. 

Pepperdine University’s Most Fundable Companies Competition

Applications are open for Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School’s Most Fundable Companies competition. The program provides all applicants with feedback — after applying, founders receive automated reports on their company’s attractiveness to investors. Semi finalists and finalists receive more thorough analyses of their companies and feedback from a panel of judges. Up to 20 companies will be selected to be published as the “most fundable companies” and will be featured in a showcase in Malibu during the fall. Anyone residing in the U.S. is eligible to apply. Applications are due March 31. 

Grants For Maine Nonprofits With Incubators, Accelerators or Collaborative Spaces

Ellsworth, Maine-based Maine Community Foundation is accepting applications for its Start Up/Scale Up Grant Program, which provides funds to Maine nonprofit groups supporting entrepreneurs– such as groups with collaborative spaces, incubators or accelerators, The Bangor Daily News reports. Selected groups can receive grants up to $25,000. Last year, 10 groups were awarded a combined $200,000, according to the foundation’s website. Applications are due April 1. 

Incubator For Military Veterans And Family Members

Applications are open for the Veterans in Residence program, an incubator that supports veterans and military family members who have founded early-stage startups, according to a news release. The program is a collaboration between Chicago-based Bunker Labs and coworking space company WeWork. The six-month program is hosted in 22 cities across the country, but is also offered virtually, according to the release. The program starts in July. Applications are due April 15.

Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator Wants Founders for Summer Cohort

Applications are open for Comcast NBCUniversal’s LIFT Labs Accelerator, a program that supports startups through mentorship from the company’s leaders and partners, according to a news release. The accelerator, which is powered by Boulder, Colorado-based Techstars, is seeking startups that are developing innovations in “connected living, next gen entertainment, future of work and personalized experiences,” according to the release. The 13-week program will start in August. Applications are due May 12.

Emerging Markets

Bridges For Enterprise Seeks Startups For Virtual Incubator

Bridges for Enterprise, a program based at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, that provides funds to social impact startups, has opened applications for its incubator. Early-stage startups based in Africa, Asia, Latin America or the Middle East are eligible for the program. The free, virtual incubator will provide the selected founders with financial advisory, consulting services and legal advisory over six-eight months. The group holds two cohorts per year, and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.