Community Vote 2/22 - 2/25


The Elevate/Elevar Accelerator is a 6-month entrepreneurship development program for Black & Latinx entrepreneurs. Through the Accelerator, we support founders with curriculum, connections, community, and access to capital through grants. We also support founders with interest-free loans in partnership with Kiva and a founder-focused investment fund.


  • 1/18 - 2/5: Applications open
  • 2/12: All entrepreneurs notified if they made it to the next round
  • 2/15-2/217: Semi-finalists' interviewed
  • 2/19: Finalists announced
  • 2/19 - 2/24: Community vote
  • 2/26 - Cohort of ten entrepreneurs announced
  • 3/2 & 3/4: Entrepreneur onboarding begins (additional dates in March tbd)
  • 4/1: Accelerator & curriculum begins


Elevate/Elevar is a direct response to both need and opportunity. From 1983 to 2013, our nation’s median wealth decreased by nearly 20 percent. While White wealth increased during this period, Black and Latinx wealth decreased significantly. This has left our communities in states of extreme disinvestment, perpetuating the cycle of poverty. We can bridge the racial wealth gap by elevating Black and Latinx founders, who are too often overlooked and underestimated. Investment in their success is estimated to generate 1.1 million more businesses and 9 million more jobs. It would boost our national income by 300 billion dollars.

Elevate/Elevar Accelerator, as a Village Capital Community, is part of an international network that supports ready-to-scale companies. Our program offers St. Louis-based founders:

  • Cohort learning — Investment readiness curriculum with proven track record of 91% survival rate, 8.6x more investments raised, 43% more revenue generated and 43% more jobs created than non-cohort companies. (Our 2020 cohort increased monthly sales more than 300% during the Accelerator.)

  • 1:1 Coaching — Bi-monthly 1:1s with customer growth and acquisition business coach, monthly customizable workshops and office hours with legal, human resources, technology, accounting and marketing professionals based on cohort needs, and an advisory board of mentors

  • In-kind professional services — Branding & marketing services from a top agency in St. Louis, paid accountant and Quickbooks account for duration of the program with potential for discounted services after

  • Access to capital — $5,000 in equity-free grants, customer acquisition stipend to pilot and test SEO and ads, and forums and meet-ups with 20+ lenders, non-traditional funders and investors, venture capitalists

  • Support for you as a human — Therapist / wellness coaches to ensure emotional and mental wellness needs are met

The community vote is a process that allows us to follow the lead of Black communities who have experienced generations of economic disinvestment. It allows us to activate community power, create space for community voice, and gives the communities we serve an opportunity to help us select what businesses do, or do not, work with our communities.

We are especially hoping to hear from residents in wards 3 and 21. Type in your address here to check what ward you live in: The Community Vote will be held from 2/22-2/25. You will be able to vote via our website by clicking the “Vote” button at the top of our website.

2021 Elevate/Elevar Finalists

Chantelle Nickson-Clark

Wine boutique with exclusive wines, beers, and more.

Ciara Imani May

Biodegradable hair extensions and synthetic hair recycling.

Daphne Benzaquen

Peruvian handmade bags and apparel made with minimal waste.

Dwight Cox

U.S based in-flight fuel transfer service for longer flights.

Estie Cruz-Curoe

Vegan certified manufacturer of frozen fresh black beans and sauces.

Jaquan Vassel

Custom-fitted diabetic shoes and insoles.

Jessica Black

Early learning center for children, including special needs.

Kionna Wells

3D printed self watering planters for office, home, and garden.

Laurence Reynolds

In-home private dining experience with an executive chef.

Melissa Douglass

Multi-state and virtual mental health counseling group.

Patrick Clapp

Coffee shop with ethically sourced coffee from Honduras.

Rachel Burns

Small batch ice cream with fresh and local ingredients.

Rashod O'Kelley

Cleaning and sanitation services for homes and businesses.

Reginald Jennings

Locally owned full service sewer and drain cleaning company.

Sara Patino

Locally made jewelry collection with recycled metals and gemstones.

Shamel Robinson

Chemical and acrylic free nail care salon.

Omi Kongo

Afrocentric handmade jewelry and healing services.

Shaunessi Tucker

Toxic free and vegan friendly detoxing deodorant.

Tiffany Jones

Handmade and custom blend herbs and essential oils.

Uniti Hicks

Gourmet butter toffee popcorn.

Tashara Earl

Stylish and wearable protective technology for low-light and hazardous environments.


Whitney McClendon-Gregory

Eemerg allows users to pick the nearest available roadside assistance service provider with a budget in mind. The Eemerge platform connects users directly with those who are available and qualified to assist the user in real time.

Valeria Rodriguez

Shine In All Shades Adult Coloring Book Series + workshops addresses self care & the issue of colorism via hand drawn illustrations paired with positive affirmations - which help cultivate safe & fun spaces for our communities to shine unapologetically!

Fatimah Muhammad

Apiary @ The Park is a cultural Co-working space for creative entrepreneurs, freelancers, as well as new and established small businesses.

Tyrean Lewis

Heru transforms food desert areas into healthy and sustainable environments by acquiring and revitalizing land to provide quality organic foods and herbal goods and donates some produce to elderly and single parents.

Winnie Caldwell & Sidney Keys III

Books N Bros is a youth-led book club for boys, which is a subscription-based program to advocate for African American literacy.

David Cervantes

Designs, engineers and fabricates custom furnishings and interiors, using ethically sourced materials, with the aid of automated technology.

Brandon Original

Original Family Smoke House is a Plant-Based food company that provides 100% vegan comfort classic meals.

Julian Keaton

Dimensions is a mobile game designed to introduce college students & transplants to their new city and to foster community engagement through augmented reality experiences with longer-term residents and organizations.

La’Crassia Wilderness

Butter Love provides all natural skin care products that help to heal, soothe and moisturize the masses.

Tiffany Elise Wesley

Pure Vibes is a worker-owned company that creates essential wellness products, including artisan-made soaps and aromatherapy products, that elevate our customers and communities.

Dream of Change Report—Announcing the Elevate/Elevar Accelerator!
Start your application to the Elevate/Elevar Accelerator!
Elevate/Elevar Founders’ Commitment to Community
black woman smiling - circle

“The stronger families are, the stronger their communities can and will be. Entrepreneurship can help build individual and community wealth, but only if we are intentional in our efforts.”

Lisa Hamilton, President & CEO of Annie E. Casey Foundation


man stand up paddle boarding

Roo Yawitz

Daniela Velázquez

Daniela Velázquez

Chisom Uche

Chisom Uche

Dan Sills

Dan Sills

Emily Lohse Busch

Emily Lohse Busch

Lakesha Mathis

Lakesha Mathis

Dr. Cheryl Watkins Moore

Dr. Cheryl Watkins Moore

Barry Maciak

Barry Maciak

Phillip Sangokoya

Phillip Sangokoya

Feliz Tovar

Feliz Tovar

Neal Richardson

Neal Richardson

Heather Cameron

Heather Cameron

Chavelle Patterson

Chavelle Patterson

Tyler Kelley

Tyler Kelley

Rikki Henry

Rikki Henry


SLAM! logo


Village Capital logo

Village Capital

OMiga logo


Score logo


Square One logo

Square One

Global Accelerator Learning Initiative logo

Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI)



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