Welcome the 2018 Camelback Fellows
A letter from Camelback Founder & CEO, Aaron T. Walker:
Four years ago, I had a meeting with a potential funder who told me I wouldn’t find any social entrepreneurs of color to invest in. He told me that there was a pipeline problem, that they “just weren’t out there.” This year, with 530 applicants to our Fellowship (triple the amount from last year), I can definitively tell you that he was wrong -- though we always knew that was the case, right? One of last year’s Fellows, Wisdom Amouzou, shared how hustling is ingrained into our communities, expressing the reality that for us, “hustle” isn’t just some nice startup catch phrase to put on a mug, but rather a mindset that permeates our work and our lives. One of the Finalists this year, Kimberly Diaz, recently wrote on EdPost, “How many of your tias or padres own their business? Sure, maybe they didn’t go through a design-thinking protocol with sticky notes and sharpies, but they once had a start-up!”
Our recruitment and selection process was incredibly difficult for us this year. The phrase we said most often was, “If we could take 20…” We saw an amazing range of applicants from underrepresented communities. At each stage in the selection process, we debated for days (not an exaggeration), poured over essays, scores, and recounted interviews. We took more applicants at each stage than we ever have before, having a hard time saying no to anyone just yet. As a result, we’ve also grown the cohort numbers itself.
Meet the thirteen 2018 Camelback Fellows. We have four school founders here, individuals who are ready to dedicate the next chapter of their lives to opening an innovative institution that can change the lives of all those who enter its classrooms. We’re funding tech that’s pushing the envelope for voter empowerment, community safety, early childhood education, careers and generational wealth, and education research. We’re supporting founders who believe in power of the creative education and the arts, founders who emphasize the importance of equitable access in these fields. There are orgs that have created thoughtful programming to awaken new modes of thinking for youth and adults alike around civic engagement, immigration, and diversity in the workplace. I hope you enjoy reading the profiles of each Fellow below as much as I have.
Thank you to all applicants that shared their vision and themselves with us -- it has been our honor to get to know you. To our supporters, thank you for sending in recommendations, good wishes, and your enthusiasm. To our volunteer evaluators and interviewers, THANK YOU -- your time and expertise is always appreciated, and we couldn’t have done this without you. To my team: thank you for believing in this work and being willing to have hard conversations. And of course, to our 2018 Fellows: welcome to the family.
Camelback 2018 Fellows
Fellows are listed alphabetically by first name with organization details and quote (both as provided by Fellows). Fellows will have their own profiles on our website after the first Summit in New Orleans.
Antionette Carroll • Creative Reaction Lab | Auset Ali • Visions Performing Arts Company | Brandon Anderson • Raheem AI | Byron Arthur • Lyceum Schools | Damola Ogundipe • Civic Eagle | Janine Gomez • I Dream Academy | Martha Hernandez • madeBOS | Myron Long • The Social Justice School | Nicole Bishop • Quartolio | Sophie Shrand • Science with Sophie | Tammy Kwan • Cognitive ToyBox | Vanessa Luna • ImmSchools | Yulkendy Valdez • Project 99
Antionette Carroll - Creative Reaction Lab
Nonprofit - St. Louis, MO - www.creativereactionlab.com
ABOUT: Creative Reaction Lab is training Black and Latinx youth to design healthy and racially equitable communities. To create systems-wide change, we're taking two approaches: 1) pioneering an equity-centered form of creative problem solving, and 2) creating a collaborative youth-led, community-centered movement challenging racial inequities in the education, media, health, and government sectors.
ANTIONETTE: "I'm ecstatic to be named a Camelback Ventures Fellow. Joining the Camelback Ventures community isn't just about building our business or brand, but also about expanding our community to include individuals that continue to overcome systemic barriers and obstacles due to our identities. It is rare in the national startup space to connect with founders through more than professional opportunities and challenges, but also personal and cultural understanding. #wakandaforeva"
Auset Ali - Visions Performing Arts Company
School - Denver, CO - www.visionsperformingartscompany.org
ABOUT: Visions Performing Arts Company strives to preserve, maintain, and support the tradition of African and Latino American performing arts through education. Hosting performances, instruction, mentorships, education, and outreach, VPAC will use the stage to bridge gaps and show that there is no difference in the human experience.With a huge amount of support from the community for 13 years VPAC has been an after-school and elective performing arts program dedicated to preserving African and Latino American performing arts through education. Using the arts to empower identity in student performers and provide access to quality training and performances by instructors and mentors who look like them is our foundation.
AUSET: "I represent our students, and as a leader, I have been rejected and not given access to quality opportunity to develop to my full potential just like them. Being accepted this far is allowing me to FEEL the same belief I hope to give our students. I know the feeling of denial and the tireless work to survive off of minimum resources to hope for an industry to value your talent and who you are authentically. Round three humbled me to experience what it means to show up in all of who I am, and genuinely be accepted."
Brandon Anderson - Raheem AI
Nonprofit - Washington, D.C. - www.raheem.ai
ABOUT: Raheem AI is an award-winning nonprofit sponsored by My Brother's Keeper Alliance, an initiative of the Obama Foundation, leveraging technology to build a world free of police violence. We're increasing police transparency and accountability by eliminating the barriers to reporting police conduct and delivering a secure, anonymous, and easy way to report police interactions.
BRANDON: "I'm excited to build alongside some of the most impressive founders I've had the opportunity to meet in my entire life."
Byron Arthur - Lyceum Schools, Inc.
School - New Orleans, LA
ABOUT: Our organization plans to operate a charter school that will serve the young men of New Orleans. The school will prepare students for college and/or career through a program of challenging academics, social and emotional learning, robust extra-curricular offerings, opportunities for student leadership, and a commitment to community service.
BYRON: "This has been an amazing journey that continues to challenge me as I work with my team to reimagine school. I would hope to share our idea with a group of visionary and committed individuals and in term make a contribution to the realization of their dreams. I am humbled and excited."
Damola Ogundipe - Civic Eagle
For-profit - Atlanta, GA - www.civiceagle.com
ABOUT: Organizations that engage in policy advocacy (from the NAACP, to corporations, to Chambers of Commerce) have low rates of success. Less than 20% of the time, an advocacy campaign actually results in the desired outcome. Our company created a solution that utilizes Artificial Intelligence to help organizations maximize the quality and outcomes of their policy advocacy campaigns.
DAMOLA: "I feel like T'Challa after he recaptured the throne. Wakanda Forever."
Janine Gomez - I Dream Academy
School - Washington, D.C. - www.idreamacademydc.org
ABOUT: Seats in schools of high demand do not exist in SE DC. Kids must travel across town to attend schools that engage in purposeful, self-directed work, with intentional focus on social emotional learning. IDA disrupts this inequity by increasing access to this type of learning in this community. What makes IDA unique is that we customize learning around each child's passions and curiosities.
JANINE: "I'm deeply moved by this; thank you! Our team worked HARD to complete the Round 2 application! I'm proud of the fact that we articulated our vision for I Dream Academy DC in a way that inspired Camelback to select our venture as a Fellow. I'm elated about joining the Camelback community and growing my skills as an entrepreneur at lightning speed. I'm ready for the challenge."
Martha Hernandez - MadeBOS
For-profit - Oakland, CA - www.madebos.com
ABOUT: madeBOS (made by own self) is an AI driven, career-pathing platform that empowers employees of entry-level jobs, to drive their own career development. madeBOS delivers a configurable and customizable solution to address retail's short and long-term talent strategic goals and leverages Machine Learning to curate attainable career paths increasing diversity, engagement, retention and performance.
MARTHA: "I am grateful for the opportunity to share the madeBOS vision and to join a community of resources that will expedite our impact. Thank you so much!"
Myron Long - The Social Justice School
School - Washington, D.C.
ABOUT: The Social Justice School celebrates and supports the development of diverse identities. In this middle school, students have choice in what they learn, when they learn, and how they learn. They are equity-centered designers who tackle real world problems by engaging in relevant project-based learning. Students become change makers in their communities, school, and the world.
MYRON: "I am super humbled and honored to be among an amazing group of Fellows! I am confident that the work that all the finalists (and Fellows) are doing will lead to radical social change!"
Nicole Bishop - Quartolio
For-profit - New York, NY - www.quartolio.com
ABOUT: Quartolio is an intelligent knowledge management platform that accelerates research by connecting the dots across scientific data and documents. With AI, Quartolio analyze millions of Open Access articles and datasets, connects the dots, aggregates it all in a single web platform, and personalizes scientific research by curating to each researcher's needs. Our business model is B2B KaaS.
NICOLE: "Camelback offers the opportunity to connect with like-minded founders who are confronted with many of the same challenges within tech and the startup world. I'm so excited to join as a Fellow, and I’m also excited about the fellowship being a home for underrepresented entrepreneurs now and in the future."
Sophie Shrand - Science with Sophie
For-profit - Chicago - www.sciencewithsophie.com
ABOUT: Science With Sophie is an interactive science comedy series inviting viewers to explore science all around them and remember they are brave, curious, funny, smart scientists every day. With an all-female writing team and cutting-edge teaching pedagogy like the Next Generation Science Standards, the show combats inequity in STEM fields and underrepresentation of women in mainstream science media.
SOPHIE: "I am ELATED! What an honor to be counted among such game changers in the Finalists list. I am in near-tears with the thrill of knowing how many incredible humans are taking risks to make the world a better place. I can't wait to meet - and collaborate with - some of them as Fellows soon!"
Tammy Kwan - Cognitive Toybox
For-profit - Brooklyn, NY - www.cognitivetoybox.com
ABOUT: One third of children in the US start kindergarten unprepared in critical language and math skills. Cognitive ToyBox is developing an early childhood platform for kindergarten readiness. We develop touchscreen games that make it easier for teachers to do assessment and for children to learn foundational language and math skills.
TAMMY: "I am leveraging my experience in developmental psychology and technology to build a research-backed platform for kindergarten readiness. I am most excited that Camelback is open to funding ventures in early childhood education - an under-resourced funding area that is crucial to a child’s development and later success."
Vanessa Luna - ImmSchools
Nonprofit - San Antonio, TX
ABOUT: Our immigrant community must be at the forefront of change in achieving education equity for all students and families. Our vision is to lift the voices of immigrant students and families in order to transform our K-12 education system. Through policy action, professional development, and community efforts, we seek to create inclusive, safe and welcoming schools that allow immigrant students to reach their fullest potential. We will work to close the gap between immigration and education in order to build equitable systems for undocumented students and parents in our public schools.
VANESSA: "As women of color, immigrants and new social entrepreneurs, we are thrilled for this opportunity. We must believe and invest in those directly impacted by inequity, as it is us who must be in the front of the lines of change. I'm thrilled to have been selected as a Camelback Venture Fellow! Thank you for believing in ImmSchools and our potential to bring positive change to immigrant students and families."
Yulkendy Valdez - Project 99
For-profit - Boston, MA - www.project99.co
ABOUT: Project 99 delivers a data-driven curriculum leveraging empathy and design thinking to help companies engage and retain their millennials of color. Millennials of color are 3x more likely to quit their jobs. This high turnover is due to "unfair treatment" from microaggressions to outright discrimination that is widespread in Corporate America. This "millennial drop-out rate" costs companies $30.5B a year. That's why, we develop leadership programs for companies to better engage and retain their diverse talent.
YULKENDY: "As a co-founding team of first-generation college graduates from Dominican immigrant families, choosing social entrepreneurship over a traditional job was not the easiest decision. The Camelback journey has played a crucial role in our development and growth as entrepreneurs from the Fellows we have met and got the opportunity to learn from to the technical advice the application process provides. We are energized and humbled by the opportunity to be part of a network that is ensuring people that look like us can bring our vision of an equitable world to life."