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pledgela

Photo by Samson Amore

If you know where to look, Los Angeles and its surrounding cities are full of little gems explaining the area’s history. While stopped in traffic in Santa Monica today, one plaque caught my eye – it proclaimed that African-Americans are one of the oldest cultural groups to call the beach cities home, dating back to the late 1800s, and are responsible for building much of the infrastructure we use today.

Looking at the makeup of the business communities in Santa Monica and neighboring Venice, that historical context is far from evident.

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Courtesy of Grid110

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Despite Black- and Latinx-led startups raising record amounts of funding in 2021, the fact remains that the startup scene—and the venture capital industry that funds it—remains overwhelmingly white. Of the $330 billion raised by U.S. startups last year, the amounts received by Black and Latinx founders remained in the low-single digits.

Miki Reynolds encountered that gulf firsthand in 2014, when she found herself unemployed in Los Angeles after the software company she worked for shut down. She recalled struggling to connect with other—mostly white and male—folks in the tech ecosystem. “As a woman in tech, a woman of color, I just felt like I didn't identify with the community.” In 2015, Reynolds founded Grid110—a no-equity, no-cost accelerator program designed to create a space in the industry for people like her.

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