First Founders is representing the region in nationwide Resource program

The project's goal is to build a community of leaders of color heading up entrepreneur support organizations.

Garry Johnson.

(Courtesy photo)

First Founders, the Delaware-based startup accelerator for underrepresented entrepreneurs, is one of 18 “ecosystem leaders” nationwide in the first cohort of Resource.

Backed by Black Innovation Alliance (BIA) and Village Capital, the project connects the heads of entrepreneur support organizations, or ESOs, serving Black, Latinx and Indigenous founders.

Leaders of color in Resource’s ESO Accelerator will learn how to build financially sustainable organizations and curate connections to potential funders. The goal is to build a national community of leaders and funders of color.

“A lot of support has been directed towards entrepreneurs of color in light of the recent racial uprising, but it’s important to ask how Black and brown entrepreneurs are supported and developed,” said BIA Executive Director Kelly Burton in a statement. “This work is being carried out by small and mid-sized minority-led organizations, most of which are neither well-resourced, nor well-supported. If we want entrepreneurs of color to win, we need better strategies for supporting minority-led entrepreneur support organizations. Resource is a step in the right direction.”


“If nothing changes, the median wealth of Black Americans will fall to zero by 2053,” said Village Capital CEO Allie Burns. “Historically, entrepreneurship has been one of the most consistent drivers of wealth for people of color. And incubators and accelerators are a key driver of successful Black-owned businesses — one in three Black founders who raise $1 million graduate from a Black accelerator. We want to make sure that those accelerators and other ESOs have the financial, social and human capital to keep their doors open and grow.”

Founded by University of Delaware graduate Garry Johnson III in 2019, First Founders most recently held a national podcast-based pitch competition on its Innovation Included podcast. It was one of Johnson’s virtual ideas allowing COVID-friendly programming, along with another virtual program called the Inclusive Startup Accelerator. Pre-pandemic, First Founders had launched its first fintech-focused accelerator in January 2020.

Other organizations in the current Resource cohort include WEPOWER from St. Louis, DivInc from Austin and Harlem-based Beautiful Ventures.

People: Garry Johnson
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