DENVER, COLORADO. September 15, 2021 — Uncharted announced today its cohort of ten early-stage social ventures for the Economic Inequality Initiative, a six-month accelerator supporting solutions addressing economic inequality in the U.S. The selected participants will receive $25k in unrestricted funding, access to a peer support community, and introductions to subject-matter experts like Ai-jen Poo, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, and Edgar Villanueva, Founder and Principal of the Decolonizing Wealth Project.
The economic divide in the U.S. is sharp and rising. In the decades since the great recession, middle-and-lower classes saw their collective wealth shrink by over 20%, disproportionately affecting women, people of color, and young people. “Economic inequality is the biggest problem of our generation,” said Banks Benitez, Uncharted’s CEO. “Generational problems require new and long-term ways of thinking, of building power, and of creating change. We’re honored to work alongside the entrepreneurs and activists leading the way.”
Uncharted received 344 applications from early-stage ventures across the U.S. and collaborated with a diverse selection committee to pick ten participants. “By combining the experience of the Uncharted team with that of external experts, we were able to co-create a unique selection process that was intentional about reducing bias and assuring equity and transparency,” said Andrea Perdomo, Director of Uncharted’s Economic Inequality Initiative. 80% of the selected participants identify as female, 60% identify as people of color, and 30% identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
The ten selected ventures are closing wealth gaps in the U.S. through education, housing, small business assistance, financial literacy, and policy advocacy. Meet the cohort:
- Empleo Benefits (Denver, CO): Traditional workplace benefits leave behind millions of workers of color who earn low wages and work non-traditional roles. Empleo Benefits is a marketplace platform that provides non-insured benefits, childcare services, and a subscription to primary care providers to microbusinesses.
- Family & Friends Fund (Fort Wayne, IN): Over $87 billion in charitable assets are sitting idle in Donor Advised Funds (DAFs), waiting to be deployed. Friends & Family Fund is redistributing power from wealthy donors into the community by appointing leaders of color from the community to make grants from a DAF.
- Kings Crown Kings (New Haven, CT): In 2019, almost 700,000 children were arrested in the U.S., cutting them off from their families, disrupting their education, and exposing them to trauma. Kings Crown Kings helps young people build emotional and intellectual capacities through community, economic, and policy capacity-building programs to prevent involvement with the justice system.
- Level (Washington, D.C.): Personal networks are often vital in finding jobs, developing careers, accessing resources, and expanding worldviews. Unfortunately, most personal networks are racially homogeneous in the U.S. Level is building a powerful multiracial community of women tackling the racial wealth gap by investing money and expertise in Black women entrepreneurs.
- Living Wage for US (Sleepy Hollow, NY): Over 40% of workers in the U.S. earn less than $15 per hour, making it impossible for many to afford their basic needs like healthy food and shelter. Living wage for US advocates for living wages through narrative change and enables employers to overcome barriers by creating incentives to pay living wages that afford a decent quality of life for working families.
- Missouri Workers Center (St. Louis, MO): The minimum wage in the U.S. has not increased since 2009, and the annual earnings of warehouse workers in Missouri have fallen almost $9,300 during the same period. The Missouri Workers Center is organizing a committee of low-wage workers in Missouri to increase worker pay and advance policy change through training, leadership development, and education.
- New Movement to Redress Racial Segregation (Oakland, CA): Racial segregation created long-lasting consequences that persist today, like inequalities in wealth, income, economic mobility, and more. The New Movement to Redress Racial Segregation offers Americans of all identities and backgrounds the opportunity to begin a journey of repair by coming together to take action to redress the harms of segregation.
- Pie for Providers (Chicago, IL): There are billions of subsidy dollars unclaimed by child care providers every year in the U.S. Pie for Providers develops software that automates government child care subsidies, unlocking billions of dollars for a majority of women-owned and operated providers.
- Race Against Injustice Now (RAIN) (Gadsden, AL): Over 27% of Gadsden, Alabama, and other segregated towns in the rural south live well below the poverty line. The Race Against Injustice Now (RAIN) empowers and invests in impoverished and BIPOC communities of the Northeast Alabama Region through mutual aid programs, mentorship, community outreach programs, and civic engagement.
- Thrive! (Washington, D.C.): In many cities throughout the U.S., communities of color are under-funded and experience significant barriers to government resources. Thrive! has developed equity audit software that uses 80+ measures to identify systemic racism in government spending. Using the results of the equity audit as a guidepost, Thrive! recommends shifts to spending on programs that work to advance equity and economic mobility.
The Economic Inequality Initiative is supported by several private individuals and foundations, including Pardon, The Cielo Foundation, Swaha Foundation, Mighty Arrow Foundation, MK Sternlicht Family Foundation, Sundial Ventures, Dakota Foundation, and Russell Gives.
To learn more about Uncharted’s Economic Inequality Initiative and the cohort of selected ventures, visit uncharted.org/eii and follow Uncharted on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You can support future initiatives by making tax-deductible donations at uncharted.org/donate or signing up to volunteer your expertise at uncharted.org/mentors.
Uncharted is a social impact accelerator that supports early-stage ventures tackling economic inequality in America. Our programs are fixed-term, cohort-based, and mentorship-driven. They are open to social ventures, nonprofits, movement builders, advocacy organizations, coalitions, and hybrid models.
Our results are exponential—for every $1 in funding we receive, our ventures generate $8.12 within two years, funding that they attribute directly to Uncharted’s support. For over ten years, we’ve backed early-stage ventures with audacious goals. Equipping them to challenge the status quo is what we do best.