Raise a Glass to the Camelback 2017 Fellows


I feel that my team and I are some of the most blessed people on earth. Every day we have the opportunity to be co-conspirators with entrepreneurs who are doing the work to "bend the arc toward justice." These entrepreneurs are a daily reminder that change is not inevitable, but rather the result of a collective of passionate, tirelessly working individuals.

In a social and political culture that can leave one malnourished, we are full from the inspiration, hustle and genius of our Fellows. And this year is no exception.

The 2017 Fellows include children of immigrants. One is trying to hack the way we think of school itself with a curriculum that is not only challenging, but is culturally affirming - rather than colonizing. Another uses beatboxing to help students with disabilities in need of speech therapy find their true voice.

The 2017 Fellows include Black men who understand that the stories about black communities directly influence not just how black children see themselves, but how we as a society see - and therefore interact - with them. They are taking on the task of writing new narratives so we see Black men as teachers, as makers, and as literary authorities.

The 2017 Fellows includes women who are thinking outside of the box to improve education. Two are creating innovative school models for underserved populations; another uses technology to change how teachers and students approach literacy itself. Others challenge us to rethink how we approach community advocacy and social justice work.

We are humbled to be a point on their journey and hungry to make the most of that opportunity.

We are grateful to everyone that applied. As an organization that goes out and actively seeks support, we ourselves have been and will be again on that other side of “yes.” We have felt that pang of regret and doubt. Please keep fighting the good fight, and reach out to us if you ever need help.

We cherish the opportunity to witness these changemakers in action up close over the next several months. Thank you to all of our friends and supporters; we couldn't have done it without you. New Fellows, we’ll talk soon.

With grace,

Camelback Ventures - Founder & CEO

NON-PROFIT | Washington, D.C.

Mindright, Inc.
Our texting service provides daily, personalized psychoeducation that helps youth develop positive coping strategies to manage stress. Through our service, we help schools better identify students in need of in-person escalated services. We provide real-time data on student emotional wellness to promote healthy learning environments.

ASHLEY: "I'm feeling incredibly humbled to be included in this group of inspiring social entrepreneurs. As the New Year approaches, we're excited to work alongside other Camelback finalists to address issues of educational equity and level the playing field for every student."

NON-PROFIT | Brooklyn, NY

How Our Lives Link Altogether! (H.O.L.L.A.!)
We develop grassroots and culturally relevant indigenous practices and workshops for working through and transforming trauma in the lives and families of youth of color. We provide/offer/engage youth with the political history and analysis of systems of oppression in regards to their personally and community experiences.

CORY: "Healing is an intentional practice of political resistance against the on going onslaught of generationally inherited structural violence and secondly, to embrace and develop indigenous and grassroots traditions and practices of socio-psycho-spiritual healing to recover from the impacts historical trauma caused by chattel slavery and its multiplying legacies."

SCHOOL | Los Angeles, CA

Crete Academy
Crete aims to provide a high-quality college preparatory education, while simultaneously manifesting the expectation of not only attending college, but graduating and pursuing dreams after earning the degree. The vision for the school is not only to help low-income or homeless students but also their families.

HATTIE: "I am humbled and honored to be considered a finalist of Camelback Ventures. If selected to a part of the 2017 cohort, I am most excited about meeting other fellows and social entrepreneurs who are making a difference for others. I know that this opportunity will propel my school forward in a way that I could not in my own effort. This is an exciting time and I congratulate each one who is standing with me!"


Bridging Education & Art Together (BEAT)
BEAT Global’s mission is to transform the lives of youth by empowering artists to build community through creative self-expression rooted in advancing Hip Hop culture. The BEAT Curriculum is a comprehensive 25-lesson curriculum designed to use MC/rapping, poetry, songwriting, and performance as tools for self-expression and community building.

JAMES: "No idea is powerful until it is shared, and I am incredibly excited about the possibility of sharing and developing our venture with the Camelback community of coaches, consultants, and co-creators. Partnerships and collaborations are critical to the growth and elevation of our idea and organization, and to be accepted into the Fellowship is at the same time humbling and thrilling. I look forward to the opportunity of building with the Camelback community, and ultimately, impacting the millions of young people in need to speech therapy worldwide."

NON-PROFIT | New Orleans, LA

TrainingGrounds is a non-profit organization that provides evidence informed programming with a focus on age appropriate developmental practices. We assist families and professionals throughout the greater New Orleans area with understanding the importance of how rich learning experiences and positive adult-child interactions in the first five years of life contribute to later success and overall child well-being.

MELANIE: "I am very excited that TrainingGrounds has been accepted into the 2017 Camelback Fellowship! TrainingGrounds has grown so much in such a short time and we are looking forward to 2017 to conduct our first pilots, refine our program offerings, and grow the company into a stable fixture in the New Orleans Early Childhood landscape. Camelback will be an amazing support as we continue to build our infrastructure to assist families, educators, and communities in strengthening the foundation on which children can succeed."

FOR-PROFIT | San Francisco, CA

Literator frees schools from relying on infrequent testing data by providing actionable insights through daily observations. We replace paper tools with a mobile app that guides teachers through collecting individual student data. We also provide schools with a dashboard that alerts administrators to problem areas throughout their organization.

MICHELLE: "I feel fortunate to pursue my passion; to build a technology startup focused on increasing equity in education. I am honored to be included as a finalist for Camelback Ventures because it means I have the support of a community that recognizes the value of supporting diverse leaders to drive innovation. This year, I’m most excited to do the work necessary to truly make the dream of serving every single student a reality."

FOR-PROFIT | Washington, D.C.

Words Liive
Words Liive believes our students are effectively communicating sophisticated themes, ideas, and thoughts through multiple formats everyday. Words Liive provides new approaches to literacy using contemporary languages such as the lyrics of urban music and code/computer programming languages.

SAGE: "There's a phrase from my artists friends that goes, 'All we ever needed was a stage'! As an entrepreneur of color, real mentorship, skill building, and capital is that stage. I'm exuberant that 2017 will be the year we get the platform we need to really scale to our potential!"

FOR-PROFIT | Atlanta, GA

Weird Enough Productions
WeirdEnough Productions is a multimedia production company specifically dedicated to creating positive media images of people of color. We create original content that combats media stereotypes and we deliver information about media literacy to the communities that need it most.

TONY: "I feel humbled and fortunate to be considered for the Camelback Ventures Fellowship. I'm excited to share my passion for media literacy and storytelling with the Camelback team. In 2017, I'm most excited about empowering students around the country with the tools needed to use media for social change."


Peer Connect
We train both youth and adult stakeholders to build, engage in and sustain community relationships, restorative practices and youth voice. With that, youth travel to our partnership sites around the country to share out best practices around circle-keeping and violence prevention.

TYLER: "I'm feeling great! I'm most excited about building the Peer Connect brand and providing quality training services to schools interested in shifting culture. It is a great feeling to build capacity within all stakeholders so that they can empower themselves to effect change."


NON-PROFIT | Philadelphia, PA

The Fellowship for Black Male Educators
The Fellowship is a professional membership and activist organization dedicated to advancing the development, recruitment and retention of Black male educators in Philadelphia’s public schools. Our mission is to triple the number of highly effective Black male educators in Philadelphia public schools to 1,000 by 2025 by ensuring a sustainable school-to-career pathway for them.

VINCENT: "I am happy for the opportunity to bring a venture to the table that I believe in. I hope to grow this vision with Camelback to address a social justice issue in U.S. education with diversity, equity and access. We have a lot of work to do when it comes to the Black male experience (both educators and students) and our broader positive impact on all students and school communities. Let's network and build this important work along side our boys and young men in schools!"

SCHOOL | Denver, CO

Hack School
HackSchool is developing a center-based high school model in which time and attention are separated by social issue rather than by traditional subjects. For example, students will not spend an hour each day in classes like mathematics, literacy, science, etc... Rather, students might rotate and “live” in different focuses such as the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center or the Wilderness Survival and Environmental Sustainability Center.

WISDOM: "I am excited for this next step to build community with other entrepreneurs of color. There is nothing more inspiring to me than seeing members of marginalized/oppressed groups think for themselves and courageously pursue their own liberation."


P.S. 305
P.S. 305 is a non-profit project that strives to be the driving force for educational excellence in Miami. Students, parents, teachers, and community members are informed about the performance of schools and are actively working to improve academic outcomes through advocacy at all levels of the education system.

YANNELL: "Across the country, leaders are pushing on the status quo, and I am grateful for Camelback for supporting this great work in a real way. I hope to grow and push alongside other entrepreneurs and accelerate our learnings toward the benefit of our communities. 2017 promises to be an impactful and hopeful year."

We had many amazing applicants for the 2017 Fellowship. If you're interested in learning more, you can view a list of our 83 Semi-Finalists and a more in-depth post on the 34 Finalists.