We’re proud to announce that the New Media Ventures Innovation Fund is funding five startups working at the intersection of media, culture and citizen engagement with $50,000 for each. Together Hearken, Blavity, The Culture Lab, Contratados.org and ParentsTogether diversify voices in the public space, foster civic engagement and drive culture toward support for progressive change.
The work of these organizations is mutually reinforcing. Blavity and Hearken expand the range of voices and topics represented in the media, creating community engagement. By helping to shift the norms of our culture, The Culture Lab lays a popular foundation to support change. Building the power of previously under-represented groups lets Contratados.org and ParentsTogether expand civic engagement and create advocates. No one of these efforts alone is sufficient for progressive change – each supports the others.
If you’d like to support these startups’ critical work, you can contact us. Investors can provide funding directly, or through the Innovation Fund. We are also seeking advisors and mentors to provide the startups with guidance and help them expand their reach.
A big THANK YOU to everyone who made this possible so far – in particular our screening committee members and the Innovation Fund supporters.
Here’s what the startups we just funded do:
Blavity creates original, often user-created content reflecting the experiences and interests of black millennials. With a community of over 1.2 million people, Blavity has demonstrated the power – cultural and economic – of a community previously largely ignored by the media. It has also provided a platform for a range of new multicultural voices to reach an audience.
Hearken democratizes the process of journalism by letting individuals help determine which stories newsrooms cover. Newsrooms get original story ideas via public questions and use public voting to measure interest before they report. Readers become partners in the reporting and are featured in the stories. The result is an informed and empowered audience – a strong basis for engagement in civic life.
The CEL Culture Lab creates and runs both projects and tech-based products to boost popular media engagement and shape culture strategies for social change. Services like the Cultural Pulse help advocacy groups and campaign organizers tap into the evocative power of entertainment by linking their issues with pop culture stories. Audience energy can then advance policy priorities, activism moments and social justice values.
Contratados.org, an arm of the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, is like a “Yelp for migrant workers.” Until now, migrant workers have had little access to information about potential employers, often with tragic consequences – including wage theft, stolen passports, injury or even death. Contratados.org lets migrants give each other the power of accurate information while exposing dishonest employers and middle-men.
ParentsTogether uses creativity and technology to solve parents’ daily challenges, and then unites parents to advocate around shared interests like affordable health care and paid family leave. Because parents are hard to organize using traditional methods, ParentsTogether is reimagining the membership-based organization (think of the AARP) for a digital age – offering parents media and services they love via the mobile channels they use most, and then knitting them together into a force for change.
We will be announcing our next Open Call very soon to find the next cohort of incredible entrepreneurs to fund and support. Stay tuned!