Venture Equity Project aims to remove barriers for entrepreneurs of color

Penn State's logo with the College of Health and Human Development displayed at Times Square
Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square, New York City

Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development’s equity research was highlighted alongside other partners at Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City, the commercial marketing presence of the Nasdaq Stock Market in Times Square.

Through a collaborative partnership with The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, researchers from the Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative (EIC), led by Meg Small, director of the EIC’s Design4Impact Incubator and director of social innovation at the Prevention Research Center, have completed year one of the two-year Venture Equity Project (VEP), which is comprised of a coalition of 10 leading academic institutions and global nonprofits, and supported by JP Morgan Chase.

The VEP aims to permanently improve the barriers that exist in the flow of capital to entrepreneurs of color. The entrepreneurial ecosystem is supported by critical first mover capital investments, but their roles have been largely unexplored and their potential impact on subsequent venture investment in entrepreneurs of color has not been fully investigated. 

“Penn State is thrilled to be working with venture partners and research collaborators on innovations that advance entrepreneurial equity”, said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research at Penn State. “The visibility in Times Square highlights the importance of this work and celebrates the tens of thousands of entrepreneurs that we have engaged since 2014.”

The Venture Equity Project aims to permanently improve the barriers in the flow of capital to entrepreneurs of color.

The visibility of the project on The Nasdaq MarketSite continued the celebration of the efforts of VEP Year One, which has built a unique data-sharing consortium of organizations in the US and United Kingdom from a range of relevant stakeholders, including capital allocators, entrepreneurs of color, and community organizers, that all understand the impact of systemic racism in this sector. The initiative is focused on integrating data sets to better understand the market opportunity behind investing in diverse fund managers and entrepreneurs of color as well as identifying points in the ecosystem where intervention is needed and where opportunities exist.

The framework for this two-year, international project has been built with research partners at EIC, Carnegie Mellon's Transition Design Institute, and Stanford University's Department of Management Science & Engineering. The international consortium includes vital industry partners including Camelback Ventures, The Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership (IFEL), Capital Enterprise, VentureESG, Extend Ventures, The ParentPreneur Foundation, and VetsInTech.

“This project has been a remarkable opportunity to work closely with exceptional partners and stakeholders in the field to align the data and leverage it for positive outcomes,” said Max Crowley, director of the EIC and associate professor of human development and family studies, and public policy.

For more information on partners, their respective work, and project updates, go to the Venture Equity Project website.

About the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center:

The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center is a non-profit committed to growing inclusion and access for entrepreneurs worldwide. The Center meets the real time needs of entrepreneurs through educational programming and then shares its learnings with policy-leaders, capital allocators and academic institutions. Established with the support of the Nasdaq Educational Foundation, the Center has been a resource for more than 50,000 entrepreneurs since its inception in 2014, a majority of whom come from underrepresented audiences. For more information please visit:

About the Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative:

The EIC is a research center for the science of scientific impact — aiming to improve the relevance, value and use of research evidence to increase societal well-being.  The EIC leverages expertise in administrative data, program design and evaluation, and researcher-policymaker relationships to optimize public and private investments. The EIC is a unit of the Social Science Research Institute and supported by the College of Health and Human Development. Read more about the Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative. Follow the EIC on Twitter @Evidence2Impact

People Mentioned in this Article

Meg Small Max Crowley