If you’re reading this, chances are you care about the future of the social sector. Meet five Black founders who are writing that future. Black entrepreneurs are redefining how we harness tech to fight injustice. All alumni of our Startup Accelerator, the founders below have each gained traction and are poised to scale in exciting ways. Read on to learn about their impact and how to support their missions!
Glenn Cantave and Idris Brewster, Co-Founders of Movers & Shakers NYC
Imagine this: you’re walking down the block, and with a few taps on your phone, you’re suddenly standing in front of an augmented reality monument of Shirley Chisholm. Or Frederick Douglass. Or Pauli Murray. Important Black leaders like these are wrongfully left out of our historical narratives; Movers & Shakers NYC is writing them back in.
Meet Glenn Cantave and Idris Brewster. They’re political activists, artists, and movement-builders. Frustrated by how American history is conceptualized, Glenn and Idris joined forces to launch Movers & Shakers NYC. Their app Kinfolk enables anyone to learn about underrepresented leaders through AR monuments. Users can place a monument anywhere in their environment, plus listen to a narrated biography about their legacy. Glenn and Idris are just getting started. Through support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, they plan to grow Kinfolk from six monuments to 100.
The Movers & Shakers NYC team is also building UNSUNG in partnership with Verizon. UNSUNG is a multiplayer, mobile, AR educational game for classrooms (woah!). Leveraging game-based learning and digital storytelling, the tool empowers students to collaboratively explore immersive learning environments highlighting Black icons. Looking ahead, Glenn and Idris are doubling down to scale both Kinfolk and UNSUNG to more learners across the country. We’re inspired by the way Movers & Shakers NYC is rewriting our narratives to center underrepresented voices.
Briane Cornish, Founder of finEQUITY
30% of formerly incarcerated people in the U.S. have no credit score whatsoever. For those who do, their scores are at least 50 points lower than those with no experience with incarceration. The result can be devastating. Returning community members with a low credit score or no credit at all can’t access housing, internet, and affordable cell phone plans. Recognizing this pressing need, lawyer turned economic mobility activist Briane Cornish founded finEQUITY. finEQUITY helps formerly incarcerated community members establish credit, navigate debt, and become financially independent.
Community members use finEQUITY to access $150 loans that help them establish credit, find resources to address debt, and receive financial coaching. It’s an exciting time for Briane and finEQUITY. They’re piloting their tools to residents of the Bronx, and are poised to expand their reach. Thanks to recent funding from The Robin Hood Foundation and Capital One, finEQUITY plans to scale its solutions to 14 additional states by 2023.
Briane’s life’s work is to open up pathways from prison to prosperity. This isn’t her first justice-focused organization. Previously, Briane founded Cleanslatedc.com, an initiative within Code for America, that offers software to determine eligibility for criminal record sealing. Today, riding off the recent momentum around finEQUITY, Briane is excited to expand her team. She’s looking for technologists, researchers, and marketers to accelerate finEQUITY’s impact. Interested in learning more? Sign up to be the first to hear about career and volunteer opportunities with finEQUITY.
Learn more about Briane and how to support her work at finEQUITY here!
Christina Guilbeau, Founder of Hopebound
Christina Guilbeau was 27 when she realized, through therapy, that her mental health struggles may have begun as early as age 14. She’s not alone. In the U.S., half of lifetime cases of mental illness begin in the early teenage years. Even so, millions of children, especially underserved youth, don’t have access to mental health resources. Christina is changing that.
Her solution? Hopebound. The teletherapy platform connects low-income youth with mental health clinicians who are currently in masters programs. It’s a win-win: youth in need receive free or low-cost one-on-one mental health support, while their clinicians earn the hours they need to graduate. As youth face increased mental health challenges associated with the pandemic, Hopebound’s solution is particularly urgent. “I have learned how to identify and cope with sudden feelings of anxiety, and that I am not as alone as I would think,” said one Hopebound client.
Hopebound is on the path to scale. To date, Christina has led her team in providing over 1,500 free therapy sessions to youth in Georgia and New Jersey. Fueled by a new partnership with Zoom, Christina is excited to grow this number. To get there, she’s expanding her team and her board in 2022, and plans to scale Hopebound to reach more youth across Georgia, New Jersey, and other states. From the 2020 Startup Accelerator to the next 1,500 free therapy sessions and beyond, we can’t wait to see where Christina takes Hopebound!
Learn more about Christina and how to support her work at Hopebound here!
Kiah Williams, Co-Founder of SIRUM
One in four people in the U.S. (that’s 50M Americans) don’t refill the prescriptions they need due to cost. This is a health equity crisis, and Kiah Williams is tackling it head-on. Kiah is the co-founder of SIRUM, a digital platform that connects low-income Americans with unused, surplus medication. Her impact so far? Huge. SIRUM has redistributed over $120M worth of prescription drugs to more than 150,000 patients across the country.
Here’s how it works. SIRUM partners with drug manufacturers, pharmacies, wholesalers, and health facilities to secure unused prescription medicine. They then redistribute this surplus medicine to clinics and community-based organizations that serve low-income patients. It’s no exaggeration to say that SIRUM is saving lives.
Kiah has seen a spike in need for SIRUM’s solution during the pandemic. As people lost their jobs and healthcare, SIRUM made sure folks could still access their medications. Now, Kiah plans to take SIRUM to new heights. More states are adopting medical donation laws (like Illinois). SIRUM is jumping on the opportunity to help states act on this legislation. Everyone deserves access to the medication they need. Where our current healthcare system fails, Kiah and her team at SIRUM are stepping in.
Learn more about Kiah and how to support her work at SIRUM here!