To our founders, friends and NVP family:
We have been deeply moved by the events of the past several weeks; events that have once again demonstrated a long-standing and tired legacy of racial inequity in the United States but also a powerful movement of people coming together to stand for what is right. As we continue to absorb those teachings and lived experiences, we are reflecting on how NVP can continue to evolve, plan and act in a way that makes our allyship to this important movement both meaningful and impactful.
Upon our reflections, the significance of where we call home, the City of Newark, is not lost on us. The deadly 1967 Newark rebellion was in direct response to the police beating of John William Smith, a black cab driver who was unjustly arrested and assaulted by white officers. While it's inconceivable that so little seems to have changed in 53 years, we gather hope and inspiration from how the people of Newark have come together in the streets, gathered by the thousands, to fight for justice once again. According to the New York Times local protests in late May were attended by 12,000 people and under Newark Mayor Ras Baraka’s leadership, those protests were both peaceful and productive.
This legacy of progress and hope is something we aspire to be part of as Newark writes its next chapter. Newark Venture Partners stands against racism and systemic inequities, and we know that our own venture capital industry needs to change. As we move forward, we are preparing to focus on a few key initiatives, including a recommitment to finding and funding Black entrepreneurs through our community-driven approach to sourcing; designing new ways to weave diversity into the fabric of the NVP team as well as our portfolio companies; strengthening our effort to help aspiring, young Black Founders learn about entrepreneurship, how to start or grow a business, and how to succeed as a venture capitalist; and deeper outreach to and programming for Newark’s small and minority owned business community. All of these build on existing NVP programs, but grow them as tenets of our success as a team and as a fund.
We know that this is not enough - and that there is still so much work to do. This is simply a start, and we expect this note to be the first of several where we continue to outline our ideas and action plans to our community.
To the Black Founders and Founders of Color within our NVP community and the broader VC ecosystem: know that we are here for you and with you. We are listening. We are acting. We are committing to support and share the burden as we move forward. Our doors and hearts (and zoom links) are open – and if you have suggestions on how we can better support this cause as individuals or as a community, we want to know. As Anthony Fraiser of ABF Creative said, “We have to challenge the system with our voice, our art and our actions. But none of this matters if we don’t maintain hope in the process.”
The NVP Team