Launched in 2016, Acumen America's portfolio focuses on health, financial inclusion, and workforce development. The emergency grants have been distributed across 11 of its 22 social enterprises so far—including to Newark, New Jersey-based MindRight Health, which provides culturally responsive mental health coaching over text message to low-income youth and young adults of color. MindRight has seen a 20% increase in use since the start of the crisis.
Another grant recipient is Fresno, California-based Bitwise, which equips disadvantaged job seekers in distressed cities with technology skills. It also creates jobs via company incubation and software consulting. During the pandemic, Bitwise launched a platform to connect displaced workers to training opportunities, job openings, and essential services in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
“The US is facing a generational crisis with the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and the crisis around systemic racism," said Nanda. “Entrepreneurs can be responsive to the needs they see in their community by coming up with new innovations that can complement efforts made by government, corporates and nonprofits.”
Barclays has a longstanding relationship with Acumen America. It is the anchor partner of the Workforce Development fund, which it has supported with two grants since its inception in 2016. It has also supported Acumen's global work for nearly a decade.
“Barclays has shown real leadership around how corporations can play a role in putting people and communities first," said Nanda. “It's really in partnerships like this that we're going to bring our communities toward greater inclusivity."
For Mark Thain, Director, Citizenship at Barclays, the key differentiator between the interventions Acumen America supports and a traditional non-profit approach is that they are all led by entrepreneurs with business models.