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Diversity & Inclusion

The Venture Mentoring Team is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values.


We appreciate and leverage our backgrounds, experiences, and cultures, and we involve and reflect the communities, universities, startups, and small businesses we support.


We align our policies, practices, and resources so that people of all races, cultures, and socioeconomic statuses have opportunities to thrive.


We create a supportive environment in which everyone feels valued and respected.

Our Commitment

The Venture Mentoring Team is working every day to ensure that we are making a positive impact on equity, diversity and inclusion in the mentoring we pursue and the community partners we engage to work with us

We celebrate and leverage the diversity of our 180 mentors and the richness of the backgrounds, cultures and experiences they bring to strengthen our work. Our belief is that all races, cultures, and socioeconomic groups should have the opportunities they need to thrive, and we have created a diverse and supportive environment in which everyone is valued and respected.

The proof of our commitment and our impact rests in our strong Community Partner relationships.

Our Community Partnerships

Elevate Together

Elevate Together, a nonprofit program initiated by Office Depot in conjunction with the Urban League and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, addresses systemic discrimination and racial disparities in business growth and profitability in Black and Hispanic communities. We are a National Mentoring Partner and work with the Urban League and Hispanic Chamber through Elevate Together to impact underserved business communities in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, South Florida, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Detroit, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston with expert mentoring. The Urban League and Hispanic Chamber nominate new mentors to participate in the Elevate Together program as we continue to expand our impact nationally. Our Community Partners nominate startups and small businesses to receive the VMT’s mentoring along with grants to support their growth.

Target Corporation’s Forward Founders

Through the Target Corporation’s Forward Founders program, we help early-stage minority-owned consumer product companies located all over the U.S. get shelf- ready for mass distribution. We help minority business owners through expert mentorship by building their skills in managing consumer packaged goods, helping them gain access to industry-leading resources and valuable business partnerships.

Black Girl Ventures

Black Girl Ventures refers promising start-ups and small businesses owned by black women in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, Durham, Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, Atlanta, Birmingham, Houston and Austin. Our mentoring helps these promising businesses gain access to community, capital, and capacity building that leads to economic advancement.

Black Angels Miami (BAM)

Through our community partner, Black Angels Miami (BAM), we are mentoring black-owned technology start-ups, helping to prepare them for top investment opportunities across the country. With BAM we are working to change the landscape of venture investing, leveraging the value of diversity.


Working with The Venture Mentoring Team has been nothing short of revolutionary for my startup, ReefVitalize. Every mentor on my team has been dedicated to helping me pursue my goals, keeping me on track, and providing extraordinary insight to push my venture to its next step.

Recently, I was awaiting the approval of an international research permit to launch our pilot location, which had been taking an extended period of time. I was starting to get nervous about the launch timeline when my mentors reached out to their networks to see if anyone had connections within the department where I was seeking permits. Within three weeks, VMT Mentor Jennifer Hudson, had not only pinpointed a mutual connection who knew a key member of this department, but was able to help push through the approval of this permit and officially kick off almost three years of hard work. Without her and the rest of my mentorship team, my startup would not be where it is today, and I am so grateful to be able to continue this journey with them.

Brenna Bales


The VMT has been an invaluable resource for the Cerus Performance team. The varied experience of our mentors has given us insight in marketing, finance, operations and more. The VMT has created a safe space where we can share our struggles and successes with no judgement. We always leave our meetings with ideas we hadn’t thought of before and we feel excited and inspired. Summer Kusel is an awesome team lead who is encouraging and positive. Bob Nelson and Bob Dakin both have a vast amount of knowledge and always introduce high-level concepts for us to consider. Nelson Telemaco is thoughtful with his ideas. Ruth Brophy is a rockstar with finances. Christine Arnholt is creative and knowledgeable about our industry. It feels fantastic to have The VMT’s support and guidance.

Jeff Evans


Florida Atlantic University

The path taken by entrepreneurs is never a straight line and is full of twists and turns that often require expertise and guidance from professionals outside of the organization. We at 2nd Vault could not be more grateful and appreciative of the time and knowledge provided to us by the Venture Mentoring Team. Every minute spent with our mentoring team is time well spent and invested. The VMT mentoring team is a perfectly crafted group of professionals that all have meaningful direction and insights to provide. The VMT mentors keep us focused on what is in front of us systematically, helping to lead our company to scale. We feel so fortunate to have been selected as mentees of the VMT and hope to pay it forward in the future.  Thank you for all you do and the impact you have on start-up founders, as there is no price one could ever assign to the value we have received.

Kevin C. Cox, phD, MSE

Senior Instructor and Assistant Director

Elevate Together

Office Depot initiated the Elevate Together program in 2021 partnering with The Venture Mentoring Team, the National Urban League and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to deliver impactful, measurable and scalable support services that foster business creation and growth opportunities for Black and Hispanic businesses.

It has been an honor to partner with the Venture Mentoring Team during Elevate Together’s launch and early stages. Their mentoring methodology and training set a high bar, and their mentors have been invaluable to our Elevate Together grant recipients.

We look forward to the VMT’s continued work with Urban League affiliates, Hispanic Chambers and other community partners to provide mentoring services to minority-owned small businesses as they grow and expand their mentoring services.

Sharu Goodwyn

National Manager, Community Investment, Elevate Together

Alex Price

National Director, Community Investment / Co-Leader, Diversity Council