16 Latinx and Black Entrepreneurs in St. Louis to Present at Community Pitch Day

The Elevate/Elevar Accelerator is a 6-month development program for Black & Latinx entrepreneurs that provides founders with curriculum, connections, community, and access to capital. The program aims to accelerate community-owned wealth building and living wage job opportunities in North St. Louis City.

Through the Accelerator, WEPOWER supports a founder community of Black and Latinx changemakers and entrepreneurs who are working together to address systemic injustice at its root. WEPOWER recently announced their second cohort of entrepreneurs.

Meet the New Companies

Get Involved

On Saturday, October 23, WEPOWER are virtually holding a Community Pitch Day to hear business pitches from entrepreneurs of their most recent Elevate/Elevar cohort and celebrate their work thus far.

From 12 p.m. – 2 p.m., the St. Louis community – residents, friends, investors, partners, future customers, and funders – will have the opportunity to learn about each entrepreneur’s business by hearing their pitches and their role in building community wealth as members of a larger movement to restore power and autonomy to Black and brown communities.

Learn More

The second cohort consists of the following St. Louis entrepreneurs:

  • Jessica Black; Jessie B’s Academy
  • Rachel Burn; Bold Spoon Creamery
  • Patrick Clapp; Coffeestamp
  • Estie Cruz-Curoe; del Carmen
  • Melissa Douglass; Goal Driven Counseling
  • Reginald Jennings; Rooterman
  • Tiffany Jones; Cheryl’s Herbs Group
  • Chantelle Nickson-Clark; A&C Happy Hour Wine and Spirits
  • Shamel Robinson; Sonder Lush Nail Studio
  • Jaquan Vassel; Vassel’s Comfort Shoes & Custom Insoles

“While white wealth increased from the 80s on, Black and Latinx wealth decreased significantly, perpetuating the cycle of poverty in Black and brown communities. Elevate/Elevar was created to bridge this racial wealth gap by elevating Black and Latinx founders,” said Keisha Mabry Haymore, Director of Entrepreneurship at WEPOWER.

St. Louis Impact

“The Elevate/Elevar Accelerator is about meeting entrepreneurs at their moments of challenge and growth, and Community Pitch Day will be a time to celebrate their incredible work.”

“The Elevate/Elevar Accelerator program not only provided me with the social supports and resources I needed to realize my vision for Cheryl’s Herbs, but it brought me into a community of changemakers who, like myself, see the endless possibilities for our communities in St. Louis. We are intentionally taking steps to fulfill our dreams while catalyzing collective wealth for our people and communities,” said Tiffany Jones, owner of Cheryl’s Herbs and member of the second Elevate/Elevar Accelerator cohort.

Future Plans

By 2024, WEPOWER plans to:

  • Facilitate two Accelerator programs annually;
  • Increase access to capital through increasing the number of investments offered in partnership with Kiva and through their investment fund, Elevate/Elevar Capital; and
  • Launch a capacity-building strategy that supports residents’ ability to control wealth from businesses, land, and other assets in their neighborhoods.
  1. October 19, 2021

    I think WEPOWER Elevate/Elevar deserves credit for identifying food as a category to throw ESO resources behind. Last year’s vegetarian BBQ option, Original Family Smokehouse, was CRAZY AHEAD OF ITS TIME, if you think back to summer 2020… a year later Benson Hill Biosystems, the region’s most heavily invested startup almost spontaneously IPOs due to a SPAC organized by an ex-Facebook early employee who bet on plant based meat.

    Honestly, I didn’t see it at that time… but there’s even someone running for mayor in NYC based on a metaphor of meat-free products. WEPOWER Elevate/Elevar identified this trend early through it’s own startup selection process… and since then UMSL DEI and now Arch Grants have both subsequently supported foodpreneurs.

    This is why philanthropists need to throw more cash at WEPOWER Elevate/Elevar (and UMSL DEI programs too, tbf). Beyond supporting POC founders (much needed), both are idea filtering systems and you can almost guarantee that variations on these ideas will break through to mass market in future.

    St. Louis needs to throw more cash and leadership resources at these early stage companies earlier, but in such a way as to not throw new companies off balance.

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