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US Appeals court blocks grants to black women

Fearless Fund Donates to FEMLY

Venture capital fund Fearless Fund cannot resume making grants to Black women-owned businesses because of a court order.

First, this is hot, flaming, piles of garbage.

Second, right now this is a preliminary injunction – it’s only binding Fearless Fund. Not for any other grant providing organization or fund.

Third, a preliminary injunction means the judge found that Fearless Fund is likely to lose on the merits. Doesn’t mean they will.

If you want to continue giving grants to black women (as you absolutely should), but don’t want to risk litigation, here’s I would suggest:

1. Instead of targeting or excluding a specific racial group – target “underserved communities.”

Potato, Potahto but one is more generic than the other.

Another hack is to run paid marketing campaigns with custom audiences. If you have a list of emails of past grant winners and applicants, you can use that list to target people in similar situations as those past winners. That’s called lookalike audience targeting. We talked about lookalike audiences when discussing how to reduce marketing spend.

Long story short: To use lookalike audience targeting, take a list of past winners’ or applicants’ emails, and upload them to the social media platform of your choice. We like Meta (Facebook and Instagram) ads for this. The social ad platform will then visit the profiles associated with those emails, and build a persona based on those profiles. After that, they’ll create a list of brand new people you’ve never talked to that you can serve ads to.

It’s kind of like how police often use “criminal profiling” today instead of “racial profiling” because the latter is illegal (wink wink, nudge nudge). Except, a lot of those that are incarcerated were incarcerated because of racial profiling. They can effectively target the same people without running afoul of the Constitution. If it works for the cops, it can work for you, too.

2. Make sure your grant programs (even charitable ones) are open to all applicants. (Doesn’t mean they need to win).

You’re not required to give grants to anyone in particular. You just can’t exclude certain groups of people because of their race alone. Racial identity cannot be the predominant reason someone does not win a grant.

That does not mean they need to win, however. There are a litany of reasons someone doesn’t win a grant. Get creative, if you want.

3. The 11th Circuit covers Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

Not in those states? This won’t affect you legally. At most, others can sue, make similar claims as the American Alliance for Equal Rights did in their case against Fearless Fund, and use this case as a “see? they did it!” but that doesn’t mean your federal appeals court needs to make the same decision as the 11th circuit here.

Fundamentally, it’s not binding outside of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.

Conclusion

This sucks. And it sucks even more that we just can’t leave well enough alone. Fearless Fund was doing positive things that, frankly, wouldn’t have needed to be done in the first place if we weren’t quite such a racist, napoleon complex saddled country.

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Jack Treseler

Jack is a serial entrepreneur with a decade of experience in marketing finance brands. Jack believes investing and business can be used for good, and loves helping fintech companies scale their business (and their revenue). He's also a fan of pineapple on pizza, but we won't hold that against him.