Fast Forward and BlackRock New York Accelerator Session

October 4, 2018 | Accelerator

Start Spreadin’ The News…Our NYC Accelerator with BlackRock Was a Success

As one of Fast Forward’s earliest partners, BlackRock has championed Fast Forward and played a critical role in our Accelerator year after year. This support has enabled us to accelerate 41 tech nonprofits that are positively transforming millions of lives around the globe.

What made BlackRock’s support unique this summer? They hosted Fast Forward’s first ever New York session! The teams flew to NYC in style (thank you, JetBlue!), and spent two days at BlackRock HQ, where they learned from incredible speakers and BlackRock mentors, and pitched to employees at BlackRock Demo Day.

Claire Chamberlain, Erica Teasley Linnick, and Victoria Dunning
Claire Chamberlain, Erica Teasley Linnick, and Victoria Dunning speak with Shannon Farley at Fast Forward’s Accelerator

Always a cohort favorite, we kicked off our 6th and final 2018 session with our funder panel, where leaders from some of the biggest philanthropic organizations around shared real talk with our teams. BlackRock’s Managing Director of Social Impact, Claire Chamberlain, Open Society Foundation’s Senior Program Officer with the Democracy Fund, Erica Teasley Linnick, and Ford Foundation’s BUILD Program Officer, Victoria Dunning all gave the teams thoughtful advice on how to appeal to funders and maximize your chances of being supported by institutions. One of our biggest takeaway? The importance of vision, passion, and grit when pitching to funders.

Mentors from BlackRock’s executive team joined us for our very last mentor session, where teams received trajectory-changing advice. We were thrilled to welcome back Scott Roen, who came to mentor for a second year in a row.

Scott Roen of BlackRock in mentorship
Scott Roen of BlackRock Mentors Fast Forward entrepreneurs

Tuesday was the last day of the 2018 Accelerator. We warmed up for the evening’s BlackRock Demo Day with fireside chats from leaders like Jocelyn Wyatt, CEO of, and Fast Forward alums Peter Gault, founder of Quill, and Dan Kass, Co-Founder of

We rounded out our terrific trip with our first NYC Demo Day! The Demo Day was hosted by Jody Kochanksy, Global Head of Software Development at BlackRock, who strongly believes in technology’s power to drive positive change. The #FFWD18 teams pitched to a standing-room only space, with their pitches streaming on BlackRock TV, reaching offices across the globe.

In addition to supporting Fast Forward each year, BlackRock invited all of their employees to vote on their favorite tech nonprofit. The winning prize was a generous $25,000 grant. While all the teams rocked their moment on BlackRock TV, the winner was…


Upsolve's Rohan Pavuluri accepts the BlackRock Employee Award from Jody Kochansky
Jody Kochansky of BlackRock awards Rohan Pavuluri of Upsolve the Employee Award

We are so grateful to BlackRock, Jody Kochansky, Mimi Narbonne, Peter Williams, and Claire Chamberlain for their unwavering support of Fast Forward and the tech nonprofit ecosystem. We couldn’t do it without you, and we appreciate all that you contribute to supporting the world-changing organizations in our cohort. We’re already looking forward to next year!