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Bowser Administration Selects Partner to Develop and Manage Inclusive Innovation Fund for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, September 5, 2018
The Marathon Foundation Will Leverage the District’s Seed Investment to Raise Private Capital for DC Companies Led by Underrepresented Entrepreneurs

(Washington, DC) – The Bowser Administration today announced it will partner with The Marathon Foundation (TMF) to create the DC Inclusive Innovation Fund, a new program that will invest in early stage District businesses led by underrepresented entrepreneurs, including people of color, women, LGBTQ people, and individuals with disabilities. The District will provide seed funding of $1.5 million to help the fund raise private capital to support DC entrepreneurs. 

“This partnership will break down financial barriers and move us one step closer to ensuring all Washingtonians, including underrepresented entrepreneurs, are able to share in our city’s continued prosperity,” said Mayor Bowser. “Together, we will build on our progress in making Washington, DC the capital of inclusive innovation and create more pathways to the middle class for District residents.”

The DC Inclusive Innovation Fund will invest in pre-seed, seed, and pre-Series A stage companies with at least 51 percent ownership by underrepresented entrepreneurs. The fund will target technology, technology-enabled, and non-technology companies with potential to scale. TMF will also support prospective companies and entrepreneurs seeking investment with entrepreneurial training and education.

In February, the Bowser Administration, led by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), sought ideas on the design and approach for the Inclusive Innovation Fund through a Request for Information (RFI) and followed with a Request for Applications in April. DMPED received more than 30 responses to the RFI that helped shape the District’s approach to improving access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs and received six applications from potential partners for the fund.   

The DC Inclusive Innovation Fund is one component of the Bowser Administration’s inclusive innovation strategy. In November 2016, the District released Pathways to Inclusion, a roadmap for making Washington, DC’s tech and innovation economy the most inclusive on the East Coast. This report was the first such assessment and revealed the importance of capital to achieving an inclusive innovation economy. The fund is also one of the strategic initiatives of Mayor Bowser’s Economic Strategy which focuses on making Washington, DC the global model for inclusive prosperity through diversity and innovation.   

The DC Inclusive Innovation Fund will complement existing financial resources available to District entrepreneurs, including the Great Streets grant program and Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, administered by DMPED, and the DC BizCAP programs, administered by the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking. Over the next several months, TMF will raise capital for the fund with the intent of investing in companies by mid-2019. 

The Marathon Foundation is a DC-based philanthropic member organization whose mission is to accelerate the development of strategic relationships that will create access to capital, develop talent, and create deals. TMF is led by a team of investment veterans, Vernon Lee, Jr. and Duane McKnight, who collectively have nearly four decades of investment, portfolio management, and entrepreneurial experience and share a longtime commitment to investing in and supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs. 

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