The UpShot: Championing Equity - Let’s Celebrate our Black Founders!


Today we celebrate Juneteenth, a pivotal day in American history, marking the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans in 1865. Also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, Juneteenth originated in Galveston, Texas, when Union General Gordon Granger announced the end of slavery, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This delay highlights the systemic barriers that have historically impeded Black Americans’ access to freedom, opportunity, and economic prosperity. Today, Juneteenth is a celebration of resilience, a tribute to the ongoing fight for civil rights, and a call to action for addressing contemporary inequities.

As we reflect on Juneteenth, there’s still so much more progress to be made as a country and city since 1865. In the startup landscape, we see the persistence of inequities in venture funding. Less than 1% of venture funding goes to Black-founded startups. Last year, with the overall 37% decline in capital in the U.S., funding to Black-founded startups dropped a staggering 71%, according to Crunchbase.

Despite being among the fastest-growing segments of entrepreneurs, Black women receive even less VC funding. According to recent reports, Black women founders receive only 0.39% of all venture capital deployed. This systemic lack of investment in Black female founders has culminated in the recent federal appeals court ruling against the Fearless Fund’s grant contest, which awards $20,000 grants to businesses owned by Black women. The court’s decision to suspend the grant program sets an unfortunate precedent. The ruling hamstrings charitable efforts aimed at addressing the massive inequities in venture funding and entrepreneurial support, slowing social and economic progress across the nation.

As we commemorate the struggle and freedom of African-Americans on Juneteenth, we are reminded of our collective and enduring work toward equality and justice in the United States. As the birthplace of Equitech, Baltimore has an important role to play in supporting the advancement of an inclusive tech ecosystem. Equitech unlocks innovation, economic potential and opportunity by leveraging the advantages of diverse leadership, equitable standards and practices, and a culture of belonging in tech.

At UpSurge, we would like to offer some promising statistics showcasing the excellence that is possible when an ecosystem and the world at large recognizes the opportunity and brilliance Black female founders present:

As we reflect, we can also support the work of many Baltimore organizations who are endeavoring to bridge the gap in access and outcomes through financing, mentorship and spaces:

It goes without saying that UpSurge and our community is betting on Baltimore because of the strength and brilliance of our Black founder community. We encourage the Baltimore business, tech , and startup community to lean in with our Black founders and mirror the existing promising endeavors to bolster the success and growth of Black-founded startups in Baltimore!

What’s UP: Founders

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What’s UP: Funders

What’s UP: Friends

Heads UP: Opportunities

Heads UP: Events

Rise UP: Learn

The UpShot is Baltimore’s Equitech ecosystem news, curated for startups, founders, funders and friends, all working together to build the country’s first Equitech City. ↗️↗️↗️
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