Meet the WEPOWER 2020 Elevate/Elevar Accelerator Cohort

After talking to hundreds of founders, reviewing 90+ applications, interviewing 40+ entrepreneurs, and 800+ community members voting, we have selected 10 dynamic Black and Latinx entrepreneurs to join WEPOWER’s inaugural cohort of the Elevate/Elevar Accelerator.

The Elevate/Elevar Accelerator celebrates the vast untapped potential of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs and the urgent opportunity to spark economic development and wealth building in low-wealth communities.

Our new report Dream of Change, Accelerate Creators shares how and why we designed the accelerator this way. It’s part of our strategy working towards a future where every community has power, the ability to act and self-determine.

Over the next three years, WEPOWER has an ambitious goal to support 50 Black and Latinx entrepreneurs through the Elevate/Elevar Accelerator. We are committed to companies that have the potential to spark job creation and economic opportunity in low-wealth St. Louis communities.

Together, our region has an opportunity to simultaneously elevate founders and communities to build shared economic power by accelerating differently.

Meet the Members of the 2020 Elevate/Elevar Cohort

I don’t think we could have selected a more perfect cohort of entrepreneurs. They are scaling tech, health, and construction companies.

They are creating delectable vegan dishes. They are supporting boys across the globe with growing their literacy skills. They are St. Louis proud and committed to sparking economic development in areas like North St. Louis City.

Companies accepted into our inaugural cohort will access connections, co-working, and curriculum, and capital that will elevate their ability to be investment ready and scale their company to newer heights. The potential, the commitment, and the incredible entrepreneurialism of our inaugural cohort is a story of possibility.

  • They teach us that it is possible to invest – our hope and our resources – into Black and Latinx folks – knowing they have what it takes to thrive against traditional, often flawed metrics while putting community and (social) equity at the center.
  • They teach us that it is possible to dare to develop areas like North St. Louis City – not allowing excuses and fear to enable our region’s complacency when it comes to areas where Black folks are concentrated.
  • They teach us that it is possible to achieve the impossible even when folks and the systems they design are counting them out.
  • They teach us, in the great words of Mae Jamison, the first Black woman to travel to space, “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”

Let their unflinching courage to redefine what’s possible and inspire us to chart a new way of doing business in our region.

Eemerge Roadside Assistance Marketplace
Eemerg allows users to pick the nearest available roadside assistance service provider with a budget in mind. The Eemerge platform connects users directly with those who are available and qualified to assist the user in real-time.

Cervantes Designs
Designs, engineers and fabricates custom furnishings and interiors, using ethically sourced materials, with the aid of automated technology.

Apiary @ The Park
Apiary @ The Park is a cultural Co-working space for creative entrepreneurs, freelancers, as well as new and established small businesses.

Dimensions
Dimensions is a mobile game designed to introduce college students & transplants to their new city and to foster community engagement through augmented reality experiences with longer-term residents and organizations.

Butter Love
Butter Love provides all natural skin care products that help to heal, soothe and moisturize the masses.

Aging in Your Place
Aging in Your Place provides advocacy, case management and other resources necessary to senior and disabled populations in St. Louis to give the client an opportunity to remain in the least restrictive environment: home.

Heru Urban Farming & Garden
Heru transforms food desert areas into healthy and sustainable environments by acquiring and revitalizing land to provide quality organic foods and herbal goods and donates some produce to elderly and single parents.

Shine in All Shades
Shine In All Shades Adult Coloring Book Series + workshops addresses self care & the issue of colorism via hand drawn illustrations paired with positive affirmations – which help cultivate safe & fun spaces for our communities to shine unapologetically!

Books N Bros
Books N Bros is a youth-led book club for boys, which is a subscription-based program to advocate for African American literacy.

Original Family Smokehouse
Original Family Smoke House is a Plant-Based food company that provides 100% vegan comfort classic meals.

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Mentioned in this Article

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Charli Cooksey, founder & CEO of WEPOWER, is a St. Louis native who returned home in 2009 to serve as a middle school English educator through Teach For America after completing her undergraduate studies at Prairie View A&M University. In 2011, Charli co-founded an educational access venture called inspireSTL. During Charli’s tenure, each senior class of inspireSTL Scholars celebrated 100% high school graduation and four-year college acceptance rates. inspireSTL has inducted seven classes of scholars, and it is on track to serve approximately 400 scholars annually. Charli went on to serve as an Executive-in-Residence at the United Way with a focus on education innovation. Prior to WEPOWER, she served as the Interim Executive Director/Lead Catalyst of Forward Through Ferguson.

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