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News Briefs

Next Wave Impact Reveals Finalists for 2021 Founders of Color Showcase

Six of the ten founders selected are women. The diverse companies hail from seven U.S. states, represent six different industries and address 10 UN Sustainable Development Goals

After receiving nearly 50 nominations for its second annual Founders of Color Showcase, global impact investor syndicate Next Wave Impact has selected six finalists. Finalists will pitch their companies to an audience of investors, funds and angel groups on May 3, 2021. All finalists are people of color and six of the ten founders selected are women. This year’s innovative startup leaders tackle 10 of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. They represent a range of industries including healthcare, education, environment, consumer and cleantech.

Increasing opportunity for founders of color

“Funding opportunities are glaringly disproportionate for founders of color who want to scale their businesses, and the Founders of Color Showcase is one way to help reverse that,” said Alicia Robb, founder of Next Wave Impact. “We look forward to welcoming this year’s talented finalists to the stage to present their innovative products and services, with the potential for growing their network, creating new syndication partnerships and scaling their businesses.”

The top six finalists will present their companies at the Founders of Color Showcase. The program will take place on May 3, 2021 at noon PT/3 p.m. ET.

The 2021 finalists are:

  • Janna Westbrook of Provider Pool in St. Louis, MO
  • Kwaku Owusu and Melanie Igwe of DrugViu in New York, NY
  • Clarence Tan and Edna Martinson of Boddle Learning in Tulsa, OK
  • Diana Yousef of change:WATER Labs, Inc. in Cambridge, MA
  • Troy Clarke and Calvin Mackie of Golden Leaf Energy in San Francisco, CA and New Orleans, LA
  • Sonja Ebron and Debra Slone of Courtroom5 in Durham, NC

To register to attend the free event, please visit

“What an incredible group of founders,” says finalist Westbrook, who is powering the future of work for nurses. “I am honored to be among these individuals and look forward to building relationships through the Founders of Color Showcase.”

Investing in founders of color

The inaugural showcase took place in 2020. Ten finalists gained exposure to more than 200 investors from the early-stage investing ecosystem. They went on to raise millions of dollars last year. Next Wave Impact partnered with Loon Creek Capital to set up Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs). This brought nearly $1,000,000 in investments to five of the finalists. View the full program from the May 11, 2020 Showcase here and the recording from the event here.

Event co-hosts:

  • Kachuwa Impact Fund
  • Beta Boom
  • Fundr
  • Stella Angeles
  • Founders First
  • Women 2.0
  • Angel Capital Association

“Fundr is proud to be one of the co-hosts of the 2021 Founders of Color Showcase which provides a unique opportunity and commitment to elevating and funding incredible founders that tend to go overlooked in the industry,” said Lauren Washington, co-founder of fundr.  

Company champions:

  • Chloe Capital
  • Avestria Ventures
  • Ad Astra Ventures
  • Pax Angels
  • Atento Capital
  • Sputnik ATX
  • New Orleans Startup Fund
  • Precursor Ventures
  • SheEO
  • AT&T Aspire Accelerator

Showcase sponsors

  • Aspiration
  • Anchor Point Foundation
  • Kauffman Foundation
  • Stella Labs
  • Signature Windows
  • Clean Energy Credit Union
  • Eleanor Freidman Fund
  • Ascent CFO Solutions
  • Loon Creek Capital

About Next Wave Impact

Based in Colorado, Next Wave Impact is a movement driving impact, diversity and inclusion in early-stage investing and the entrepreneurial ecosystem through its innovative learning-by-doing progressive fund model and other activities that drive capital to typically underserved entrepreneurs. Learn more at

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