December 10, 2013
Walt Swanston, Interim Executive Director
McLean, VA — The New U: News Entrepreneurs Working through UNITY project announced today that its two 2013 seed grant winners have been selected based on three-fourths-weighted judges vote combined with a one-fourth crowd-sourced peer vote.
As in past years, program co-directors Doug Mitchell and Alli Joseph felt that using crowd-sourcing as part of the decision-making process was the most equitable way to choose winners. “After receiving feedback from past grant recipients, camp participants and our panel of judges, we adjusted the formula for deciding who wins. We wanted the decision to be less of a popularity contest and more of an experientially informed decision by experts,” said Doug Mitchell, program Co-director. “The open public vote remains a vital part of the process, as our judges get to see how our contestants ‘sell’ others on what they are doing.”
The NewU project delivers training boot camps and strategic mentorships to develop and nurture the entrepreneurship skills of journalists of color and prepare them for full participation in digital media. New U is a Ford Foundation-funded program and is administered by UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, Inc.
The New U project is intended to increase the number of innovative thinkers and product developers who are of color, providing them with a forum in which to develop and express innovative ideas. “Every year, we learn at least as much from our companies as they learn from us,” said Co-director Alli Joseph. “The entrepreneurs who apply to New U are the sorts of people we expect to see as strong leaders in the start-up community. They are scrappy, smart, uncowed by failure and full of passion for their ideas. It is this important formula that breeds success.”
The winners from participating organizations and unaffiliated groups are Eunice Nuekie Cofie, CEO/Founder of “EthnicDermMedia,” and Kathy Times, Co-founder of “Wheretogo411.”
After the public vote concluded, a panel of esteemed, anonymous industry judges reviewed all candidates’ submissions and revised video pitches, work they had improved after attending New U 2103 start-up camps. Each winner will receive $20,000 in seed grant money to help fund her business.
“This grant will help spread awareness about a unique tool designed to help grow the African-American business class, and spur economic development in communities that suffer disproportionately from economic neglect,” said grantee Kathy Times. “I’m ecstatic and want to thank the New U judges for this awesome gift that will help us fuel a national campaign; it will change the economic reality of urban communities across America,” she added.
Eunice Nuekie Cofie also shared her excitement. “I am so excited about winning the NewU grant. It will help EthnicDermMedia empower women and men of color to understand the skin that they are in.”
In 2013, eleven participants attended one of three two-day “boot camps” to learn vital business skills and pitch their ideas to a group of mentors and guest entrepreneurship experts. The companies recorded their business pitches on video as part of their application to the program, and again to complete their participation in the competition. In early December, UNITY and NewU asked members and the rest of the web community to vote for the best business concepts.
The $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation will fund the program through 2014. This is the third grant from Ford to support the New U project.
About UNITY: Journalists for Diversity
UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, an alliance of three journalism associations, is the nation’s most diverse journalism organization. A coalition of the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association, UNITY is a strategic alliance advocating fair and accurate news coverage about people of color and LGBT issues and aggressively challenges news organizations to increase diversity in whom they employ at all levels of their companies.
For more information, visit www.unityjournalists.org or call (703) 854-3585.
About the Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. It is guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.