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Equity and Access

Equity & Access Track

We invest up to $1 Million USD (with an average amount of $500,000) in the form of a SAFE to de-risk project deployment in California’s frontline communities.

We buy down the risk of trying something new that will be transformational for your company. We want to fund a new piece of technology, a new angle on your business model, or entry into a new market.

In addition to funding, we provide:

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Project design and project management support

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Support around policy, permitting, and other barriers to deployment

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Introductions to customers, investors, corporates, and other strategic partners

The SAFE grants us the right to purchase shares in a future round at a pre-negotiated discount (industry standard is 20%). Payment is milestone-based and deployed as project elements are completed.

We believe that the answers to a more equitable, sustainable world lie in the nexus of community and climate solutions. That’s why we use a place-based model of innovation, working closely with communities, local businesses, industry partners and policymakers to help cohort companies successfully scale their businesses and deploy projects where they’re needed most.

Sara Chander Director of Innovation, Equity & Access

Designed with two principles in mind: Equity In & Equity Out

We fund projects where climate-positive technologies align with opportunities to increase equity and access in frontline communities.

Equity In

Bring equity into your company through:
  • Hiring:Diversity as a strategic goal as well as a just one
  • Professional Development:Inclusion & retention strategies to promote a thriving workforce
  • Responsible Supply Chain:Build better products for more people
  • Representative Leadership:Inclusive & diverse decision makers drive better outcomes

Equity Out

Promote prosperity outside of your company through:
  • Innovation: Equitable & affordable access to green technology & services
  • Economic Benefits:Financial & workforce opportunities to local community members
  • Unintended Consequences:Identified & addressed early on
  • Community Partnerships:Ensure innovation meets the needs of the communities

People view what’s happening in communities of color and low-income communities as kind of like a side thing that we should do after we solve the real problem. But communities of color and low-income communities — that is the whole ballgame moving forward.

Donnel Baird, CEO of BlocPower

We’re trying to create a world where everyone can get solar power, regardless of the income they have and regardless of what type of roof they have and I think Elemental will be a really big part in how we get there.

Steph Speirs, Co-founder & CEO of Solstice

Right now Goodr is a small, but mighty team. My vision for Goodr is huge. Hunger doesn’t just exist in Atlanta. It’s in every city, every community. It doesn’t discriminate. So we need to know how to do what we do, for the masses.

Jasmine Crow, Founder & CEO of Goodr

Where Do We Fund Projects?

California’s frontline communities — the predominantly low-income and minority communities that are experiencing multiple and cumulative sources of pollution and the impacts of climate change first.

 

We identify frontline communities through a combination of tools — including CalEnviroScreen 3.0 — that analyzes a combination of economic, health, and environmental burdens. We prioritize projects in census tracts that are low-to-medium income and communities that have significantly fewer resources to respond to climate change.

How Do We Design Projects?

Our team developed a new model to help startups design strong relationships with the communities they seek to work with. We call this model Square Partnerships.

 

Community-based organizations and nonprofits are an important piece of the square because they ensure that our team is invited in and our project is additive or multiplicative to opportunities and needs in their communities.

Who should apply?

Team

A strong and growing team that can support multiple project deployments.

Maturity

Companies with a scalable business model and an appetite for expansion.

Project & Track-Fit

A project concept that is high-impact and in line with the company’s core business strategy.

‘Equity IN’ projects that establish diverse hiring, inclusion and retention, and responsible supply chain practices.

‘Equity OUT’ projects that have Equity & Access business practices at its core or are looking to accelerate more equitable offerings in Califonia’s frontline communities.

Who should not apply?

  • Companies not looking to deploy in California  frontline communities
  • Companies with fewer than two full-time employees
  • Companies without a working prototype
  • Project developers selling third-party products
  • Consulting firms
  • Marketing or PR agencies
  • Nonprofits
  • Acquired startups

12-18 Month Program

Fall 2020
Winter 2021
Spring 2021
Forever
Project Timeline
Onboarding + Contracting
Project Finalization > Execution > Closeout
Alumni
Program Elements
All Cohort 9 CEOs and at least one other full-time team member will be required to participate in all three "elements" for the first year of the program. After completing the program, we ask that you participate in one or two of the "elements" in the following years to continue building relationships among companies and partners, share your learnings, and seek new investment and partnership opportunities within our ecosystem.
In-Person Elements
Oct 19-23, 2020
Kickoff Week


Cohort 9 comes together for the first time for a week of workshops and facilitated discussions that advance companies toward key inflection points and introduces them to our local ecosystem.
December 2020
Equity & Access Immersive


Cohort 9 Equity & Access members will reconvene in the Bay Area for Equity In / Equity Out programming and to continue project scoping and relationship development with project partners.
May 2021
CEO Summit


100+ leadership teams from our newest cohort and alumni companies share networks, knowledge, and insights over the course of a 2-3 day summit.
May 2021
Interactive


At Interactive we curate a room of 250+ investors actively funding companies in the energy, water, agriculture, mobility, and circular economy sectors. All Cohort 9 company CEOs will be given an opportunity to speak on stage and set up one-on-one meetings with investors.

For our next cohort, we are seeking technologies in these sectors:

Solutions:

  • Robotics, artificial intelligence & machine learning
  • Asset management tools 
  • Manufacturing, commercial & industrial solutions
  • Grid design & safety
  • Energy efficiency
  • Carbon sequestration & capture
  • Affordable & clean options for low-to-medium income customers
  • Democratization of energy
  • Electrification of everything
  • Tech at the nexus of other sectors
Nneka Uzoh Headshot

In 2019, we funded companies tackling everything from demand response to hyperlocal climate risk analysis to democratizing access to renewable energy. In 2020, we’re looking for companies whose innovations help us accelerate the transition to a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable and clean energy sector.

 

Nneka Uzoh, Director of Innovation - Energy

Solutions:

  • Affordable, appealing, & reliable mobility options for those most in need – super commuters, seniors & frontline communities
  • Behavior change solutions to reduce single-occupancy vehicles
  • Increased convenience, appeal & access to electric transportation
  • Reduced emissions in heavy freight, shipping, logistics, & air travel 
  • Enhanced roadway infrastructure safety, resiliency & disaster planning

Despite the recent flood of new mobility solutions entering the industry, for the most part we’re still avoiding the elephant in the room — cars. With personal vehicle ownership and overall car trips continuing to climb, GHG emissions are soaring, traffic is increasing in almost every city, and large and mostly empty vessels are polluting the frontline neighborhoods that all too often house our freeways and major roadways. We need to redirect the brainpower and investment that has come into the transportation sector to ensure that we’re on a path toward transitioning to a fully clean and equitable mobility ecosystem.

 

 

Danielle Harris, Director of Innovation - Mobility

Solutions:

  • Carbon sequestration & soil health
  • Food safety & traceability
  • Waste reduction & diversion
  • Alternative proteins
  • Technologies that reduce or combat deforestation
  • Supply chain platforms that support increased access to food, resources & land
  • Solutions that reduce energy use, toxic synthetic inputs & the overuse of water
Danya

Recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change illustrate the global food systemʼs significant contribution to climate change. We seek companies whose innovations increase local food production and decrease emissions throughout the value chain, from farm to fork.

 

Danya Hakeem, Director of Innovation - Agriculture & Circular Economy

Solutions:

  • Measurement & repair
  • Emerging contaminants & newly regulated substances treatment
  • System optimization
  • Membrane related systems
  • Decentralized treatment solutions
  • Capital-efficient utility upgrades
  • Technology related to human capital
  • Data & AI-based maintenance tools
  • Safe, affordable, non-discriminatory drinking water solutions
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Conservation & water reuse solutions

Most public investment goes to centralized infrastructure, overlooking opportunities for improvement elsewhere in the water ecosystem. We prioritize technologies that take a decentralized approach, help municipalities and utilities reduce pollution, and advance solutions to provide clean water for all.

 

Kim Baker, Director of Innovation - Water

Solutions:

  • Waste-to-value solutions
  • Carbon capture & sequestration
  • Resource recovery & reuse
  • Textile & apparel recycling
  • Source reduction & data collection platforms
  • Alternative packaging & next-generation waste sorting & processing technology
  • Solutions that create high-quality, local jobs for people who live in frontline communities
  • Manufacturing companies interested in ‘Equity IN’ projects to establish diverse hiring, inclusion & retention, & responsible supply chain practices
Danya

Our existing industrial and waste systems are unsustainable and inequitable. As we aspire to redesign waste streams using new technologies and business models, we’re looking for market solutions that create value from greenhouse gas emissions and other waste products, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems.

 

Danya Hakeem, Director of Innovation - Agriculture & Circular Economy

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