July 5, 2017 | Announcements, Blog

Fast Forward Raises $2.2 Million in Philanthropic Funding

June has been one crazy month for Fast Forward! We held our first accelerator launch event in NYC with BlackRock and Comcast NBCUniversal, announced our 2017 cohort, and are just one day away from the start of our 2017 accelerator program.

The biggest news yet? Last Friday we announced that we’ve raised $2.2 million in new philanthropic funding as Fast Forward expands beyond our flagship accelerator program to further cultivate this new market for technology. This philanthropic round is led by Google.org, BlackRock, Comcast NBCUniversal, Open Society Foundations and AT&T. Additional funders include Zendesk, Twilio.org, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Nasiri Foundation, and The Rita Allen Foundation, as well as Omidyar Network which continues its support through a two-year grant.

With this new infusion of capital, we will continue building products that bridge the tech and nonprofit sectors in support of its mission to create a robust ecosystem of support for tech nonprofits. Over the past year, we’ve launched several new products and programs including the first Job Board exclusively for tech nonprofit jobs, board positions, and volunteer opportunities; the Global Tech Nonprofit Community; and the first tech nonprofit summit, Accelerate Good Global.

Fast Forward’s accelerator model is proven, with 23 alumni impacting over 18 million lives and securing $28 million in follow-on funding. This success is due in part to Fast Forward’s strategic relationships with tech corporations like BlackRock, Comcast NBCUniversal, AT&T, Twilio.org, Zendesk, HPE, and Bloomberg which extends beyond capital to create a pipeline for altruism and employee engagement. During Fast Forward’s summer accelerator, executives from these corporations engage in one-on-one skills-based mentorship with the tech nonprofits. These introductions often lead to long-term advisory and follow-on support.

“We are excited to continue supporting Fast Forward and their mission of using technology to solve pressing social problems,” said Jody Kochansky, head of BlackRock’s Aladdin Product Group.  “BlackRock began as a startup itself, combining industry expertise with the power of new technologies. Having the advice and guidance of experienced professionals can be the deciding factor in a startup’s success. By dedicating our resources and the expertise of our employees to Fast Forward’s Summer Accelerator, we have the opportunity to help a new crop of startups develop solutions for some of the most significant problems in our communities.”

Fast Forward’s accelerator applicant pool has grown 4X since year one, and the organization just accepted its fourth cohort of tech nonprofits. Its 2017 cohort includes:

  • Beyond 12 – digital mentorship platform transforming first-generation students into college graduates
  • Concrn – mobile 911-alternative to dispatch help for people in crisis
  • IssueVoter – nonpartisan platform for engaging all citizens in today’s politics
  • MindRight – proactive daily mental health support for teens via SMS-based coaching
  • MyHealthEd – sex education for middle school students delivered through text-based storytelling
  • Online SOS – a chatbot that connects victims of online harassment to resources and support
  • Onward – an employer-benefit platform helping low-wage workers weather financial instability
  • Raheem.AI – a chatbot for anonymously reporting and rating experiences with police

“When Kevin Barenblat and I launched Fast Forward in 2014, a nonprofit accelerator for tech nonprofits was an experiment,” said Shannon Farley, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Fast Forward. “Three years later, we’ve proven that our tech nonprofit take on the Silicon Valley accelerator model works. Now Fast Forward is expanding its programs beyond the accelerator as we holistically focus on growing tech nonprofits as a sector. It’s thanks to the generosity and support of our funders and the global tech community that we are able to accelerate good.”

All eight of the tech nonprofits in Fast Forward’s 2017 cohort are building tech solutions to social issues the founders personally experienced, and 88% of the teams have a founder who is a woman or person of color. Through the Fast Forward accelerator, these organizations are equipped with a $25,000 grant, 100 mentors in the tech and social sectors, curated training, and introductions to the tech nonprofit founder and funder communities. The three-month program culminates in two Demo Days, one in San Francisco and one in Silicon Valley, at which each founder pitches their organization to several hundred philanthropic funders with the goal of raising follow-on funding.

Check out the full coverage in TechCrunch!