With a new month, six startups are beginning the latest Conscious Venture Lab accelerator program in West Baltimore.
Conscious Venture Lab and SHIFT Ventures sought out companies that are working on solving issues of “urban resilience,” and the latest group of startups are working on education, healthcare, financial literacy and economic opportunity for returning citizens.
According to CVL, cohort members include:
- CoAuthor: An iPad platform that provides coaching for parents and teachers in early-childhood education, and development of socio-emotional and critical-thinking skills.
- Core Staffing Cooperative: which provides temporary staffing while emphasizing dignified work, job-focused education and shared company ownership in helping members achieve entrepreneurial and educational career goals.
- Optikal Care: A subscription box that delivers contact lens care, with monthly payment options to help everyone afford quality eye care.
- Ortus Academy: A company that uses competitive game-playing to stimulate interest in financial literacy, in order to prepare underserved middle- and high-school students to build healthy relationships and habits around money.
- R3Score Technologies: A web-based tool looking to make it easier for banking professionals to assess the riskiness and financial capacity of returning citizens by collecting and integrating data about the whole person.
- TruDiary: An interactive health app that uses blockchain technology to allow women to create a smart health diary, providing relevant data for a doctor and allowing for peer-to-peer mentoring.
It’s the fourth cohort for CVL, and the second to be housed within Baltimore City Community College space in West Baltimore.
According to CVL, five of the companies are run by founders of color, and four are run by women. Program leaders worked with local organizations including Baltimore Young Professionals, Impact Hub Baltimore and the ETC to encourage applications from people of color and women.
Geographically, the cohort include four local founders, and two companies – Optikal Care and TruDiary– that are from the Atlanta area and now in Baltimore for the program.
The program includes a four-month curriculum, and Conscious Venture Lab makes a $100,000 equity investment in each company.
CVL itself also received a new investment from the Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation, which is the family foundation of Allegis Group cofounder and Ravens owner Stephen Bisciotti. The amount was not disclosed.
The foundation was “specifically drawn to the concept of spreading economic opportunity and mission-driven entrepreneurship all around Baltimore,” Jason Bisciotti, who manages investments for the Bisciotti Foundation, said in a statement. “This dovetails with our desire to make Baltimore a more inclusive and prosperous city for all our citizens.”
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