Legal Setback for Venture Capital Firm’s Grant Initiative Supporting Black Women Entrepreneurs

Legal Setback for Venture Capital Firm’s Grant Initiative Supporting Black Women Entrepreneurs
  • PublishedSeptember 30, 2023

The United States Appeals Court Blocks Fearless Fund’s Grant Program for Black Women Entrepreneurs

Fearless Fund, a venture capital firm, faced a setback as the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 vote, temporarily halted its grant program for black female business owners. This decision came in response to a request from the American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER), which had sued Fearless Fund over these grants. The AAER, led by activist Edward Blum, previously gained notoriety for its involvement in cases challenging the use of race in college admissions.

Initially, a judge in Atlanta, Georgia, denied AAER’s request for a preliminary injunction against Fearless Fund, allowing the grant program to continue. Rev. Al Sharpton held a press conference to commemorate this decision. However, AAER continued its legal pursuit, arguing that the grants created a “racially exclusive program” and violated Section 1981 of the 1866 Civil Rights Act, a law prohibiting race-based bias in contracts, according to a subsequent ruling by U.S. Circuit Judges Robert Luck and Andrew Brasher. The appellate court will now closely examine the program’s permanent future.

Edward Blum, the founder of AAER, expressed satisfaction with the court’s acknowledgment of potential illegality in the Fearless Strivers Grant Contest and anticipates a final resolution of the lawsuit.

Fearless Fund has not provided a response to inquiries from the Washington Examiner. While the organization’s women of color grant program has closed its applications, other grant programs it offers remain open.

Fearless Fund, known for awarding over $3 million through various initiatives and receiving investments from companies like Mastercard, Tory Burch, and JP Morgan Chase, faces ongoing legal scrutiny over its grant program’s eligibility criteria.

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