Throughout the month of February, Kiln celebrated Black History Month. The theme for the 2022 celebration was Black Health and Wellness, which examined how the American healthcare system has chronically underserved the African American community, and celebrated the legacy of Black contributors, scholars, and practitioners in Western medicine. 


Throughout the month, we set out to: 


Celebrate the contributions of Black Americans, specifically those in healthcare, who serve our communities and demonstrate resilience and strength. 


We studied James McCune Smith (1813-1865), the first Black American to receive a medical degree (albeit from the University of Glasgow Medical School due to racist admissions practices within the U.S.), the first Black pharmacy owner in the US, and the first Black physician to have a publication in U.S. medical journal. 


We learned about advocate Alexa Irene Canady, who in addition to becoming the first Black neurosurgeon in the U.S. and having a career as the Chief of Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, is a champion for young women pursuing careers in medicine and neurosurgery. Read more about Dr. Canady here


To read more about reducing racial disparities in health care, we suggest the CommonWealth Fund’s report and Emory University’s public health reading list on racial health disparities. 


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Share the success of Black entrepreneurs and highlight Black-owned small businesses.


This list of Black-owned businesses near Kiln Boulder and throughout Boulder County, Colorado is full of restaurants, retail, and lifestyle businesses, and features local Black artists, real estate agents, and professionals in the area. 


Here’s another list we’ve been utilizing, which focuses on Black-owned Utah food businesses, ranging from restaurants to markets to bakeries to food trucks. Read more about why it’s crucial to support Black-owned businesses on the consumer and corporate levels here


We highlighted several of Inc.’s top female founders, including Crystal Etienne, founder of Ruby Love, a company creating apparel that makes menstrual periods more manageable and less shameful, and Mandy Price, founder of Kanarys which helps other companies address systemic racism in the workplace. 


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Learn alongside you, as we explored strategies for correcting systemic underinvestment in Black communities.


Black founders are instrumental in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems with new technologies and innovative thinking. Still, they disproportionately lack access to funding resources needed to launch their businesses. In fact, while more than 13% of the U.S. population is African American, Black entrepreneurs only received 1.2% of the total venture capital invested in U.S. startups in early 2021. Even worse, Black founders only received 0.6% of all venture capital deployed in 2020. 


Some funds that are making a difference to correct this paradox include: 

  1. Google’s Black Founders Fund, which provides non-dilutive cash awards to Black led startups that have participated in our programs or have been nominated by our partner community or a previous recipient. The fund also provides recipients with Google Cloud credits, Google.org Ads grants, and hands-on support to help their startup grow.
  2. Collab Capital is “an investment fund supporting Black-founders to build sustainable, innovation-centered businesses”
  3. Black-led venture capital funds including Concrete Rose, Reign Ventures, Plexo Capital, and Noemis Ventures


For further reading, check out “The Essential Funding Guide for Entrepreneurs of Color” published by Inc. 


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Promote resources for further learning and donations.


This month we read articles from the Harvard Business Review titled “A VCs Guide to Investing in Black Founders” and “Is Your Company Actually Fighting Racism or Just Talking About It?” and “How Organizations can Support the Mental Health of Black Employees.” 


We also recommend UC Berkeley’s free small business toolkit, which contains sixty resources and marketing tips for Black entrepreneurs. You can access it here. 


Kiln has also been active in hosting events of our own to promote further learning within our coworking communities. On March 8th, we’re hosting Roy Banks, CEO of Weave HQ, to lead a discussion on how to build and lead a diverse and inclusive company. 


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Black History is American History. We’re looking forward to continuing to support Black entrepreneurs, leaders, and advocates for change.