January 9, 2017

Skill Scout & Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Receive $50K Peer Investment as Fall ’16 CivicX Wraps

Cohort 8 Group Picture

The Points of Light Civic Accelerator announced today that it will invest $50,000 each in Skill Scout (Chicago) and Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (Detroit) – one for-profit and one nonprofit startup. Both are ensuring workforce success for youth in Detroit and the Great Lakes region by launching new models that create greater opportunity and prepare young adults for the 21st Century workforce.

The Civic Accelerator is the first accelerator and investment fund in the country focused on “civic ventures” – for-profit and nonprofit startups that solve social problems by including people as part of the solution. The goal of the accelerator is to equip each startup to seek investments and scale their social innovations.

The investment came at the end of The Civic Accelerator’s eighth bootcamp-style startup program and investment fund. Our Fall 2016 program convened 14 startups over 12 weeks for three in-person, weeklong sessions in Detroit and Chicago, in addition to an in-depth virtual curriculum. The participants themselves selected the two ventures that received $50,000 investments.

The ventures were all working toward shared outcomes – education and workforce development for opportunity youth – and for the first time, we focused on a geographic region, which allowed us to bring like-minded funders, mentors and partners together to go deeper into solutions in a region experiencing high unemployment, disconnected young people and new emerging job opportunities. The venture solutions include alternative learning models, youth education & technical skills training, career readiness programs, and tech-enabled workforce development platforms to help young people achieve educational success, living wage jobs and economic mobility.

Skill Scout, a Chicago-based for-profit, is transforming how companies and candidates experience each other through video job posts and engaging work samples.

Elena Valentine, co-founder of Skill Scout said, “This investment will allow us to accelerate development of our tech platform and DIY job video app to make better hiring tools available to more companies at scale. It will also allow us to more quickly build ways for candidates to show their skills in non-traditional ways. Receiving this investment is so much more impactful coming from a cohort of trusted colleagues who have been a part of a meaningful personal and professional journey.”

Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, a nonprofit based in Detroit, is committed to providing youth with paid summer employment and training opportunities to prepare them for living wage jobs.

“This investment will help us build out our earned revenue strategy, in line with our overall efforts to make this work more sustainable,” shared Shuna Hayward and Kate Cherry with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent. “Receiving this investment from such amazingly talented and inspiring peers – to have their confidence in our team and its work – is a humbling experience.  We look forward to growing our impact and doubling the number of Detroit youth we serve in the next several years.”

“It has been terrific to work with our corporate partners, faculty and mentors, to help accelerate these 14 teams of entrepreneurs, who are disrupting education and workforce development for youth in the Detroit Area. And to work hand-in-hand with Detroit community leaders who recognize the urgency and imperative to work together to help connect young people to the emerging opportunities in the region,” said Ayesha Khanna, founder of The Points of Light Civic Accelerator. “We are proud that our teams represent the diversity of the larger community, and bring domain expertise and passion to their ventures, with 93 percent of the ventures led by racially and ethnically diverse founders/co-founders and 57 percent led by female entrepreneurs. We are pleased to welcome the graduated class of innovators to the Points of Light network.”

In its fourth year, The Civic Accelerator has invested $800,000 in U.S.-based social entrepreneurs and has paired 101 teams with more than 150 mentors, partners and strategic advisors. The graduated teams have so far generated over $54 million dollars in revenue and reached over 5 million individuals to solve social problems.

The graduated ventures in the Fall 2016 Class are:

  • ALEX (Boston, MA, For-profit), anyone’s learning experience is a marketplace of college courses for career advancement.
  • Atlantic Impact (Detroit, MI, Nonprofit) uses local and global travel to improve outcomes for students attending high poverty schools.
  • BLOC (Franklin Lakes, NJ, For-profit) is a professional network that unites black college students so that they can collectively rise.
  • Detroit Food Academy (Detroit, MI, Nonprofit) develops Detroit high school students as leaders through entrepreneurship rooted in food.
  • Detroit Training Center (Detroit, MI, For-profit) teaches the skills necessary to match students with high paying jobs through customized, hands-on vocational programs of study.
  • Fletch (St. Louis, MO, For-profit) helps colleges increase utilization of student support services including tutoring, advising, and financial aid.
  • Flying Classroom (Opa-Locka, FL, For-profit) is a real Magic School Bus offering expeditions around the globe and making it easy for teachers to engage students with STEM+ learning.
  • GenFKD (New York, NY, Nonprofit) prepares students to thrive in the 21st century through on-campus skill development programs.
  • Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (Detroit, MI, Nonprofit) provides Detroit youth with paid summer employment and training opportunities.
  • Henry Ford Learning Institute (Dearborn, MI, Nonprofit) empowers young people to be more innovative and creative in how they think and learn.
  • JOURNi (Detroit, MI, Nonprofit) empowers underrepresented and underserved Detroiters through coding and software development instruction.
  • Overgrad (Chicago, IL, For-profit) is a web platform for high school students and the people that support them.
  • Skill Scout (Chicago, IL, For-profit) transforms how companies and candidates experience each other through video job posts and engaging work sample applications.
  • WeThrive (Santa Monica, CA, Nonprofit) is an entrepreneurial mentoring program that pairs college students to middle school students in under-resourced communities.
Megan Christenson
Megan is the Director of the Civic Accelerator at Points of Light. In this role she is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Civic Accelerator, including venture recruitment, program and curriculum development, portfolio monitoring and evaluation, direct investments, and developing
strategic program and philanthropic partnerships.