Financial services company Northwestern Mutual announced a commitment to combat racism and inequality back in July. Now it’s following through on some of its promises to ensure a better future filled with sustainable change.

As part of its long-term commitment to diversity and inclusion, the company has announced new initiatives aimed at supporting Black startup founders across the nation.

According to a press release, the company’s venture capital fund, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, has dedicated a total of $20 million toward investing in startups founded by Black entrepreneurs.

“At Northwestern Mutual we’re dedicated to supporting and promoting diversity not just within our company, but within our communities and the businesses we partner with nationwide,” said John Grogan — chief product and innovation officer at Northwestern Mutual — in a statement. “Allocating $20 million is only the beginning – we will continue to invest in and provide opportunities for Black founders and are committed to providing access to capital and resources to help them grow their businesses.”

Additionally, the company also plans to launch the Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator powered by gener8tor — a nationally ranked startup accelerator — in an effort to help close the funding gap and advance these startups.

“Innovative thinking is required to drive breakthrough solutions to close the racial equity gap, and by supporting Black founders through Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures and the new accelerator program in partnership with gener8tor, we can make a difference to close this funding gap,” Abim Kolawole, vice president of digital innovation at Northwestern Mutual, shared in a press statement. “Our company’s Sustained Action for Racial Equity task force, which launched earlier this year, is looking at racism and inequality from every perspective. These initiatives will drive change and create impact within our company and communities.”

According to an announcement, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures is “focused on advancing the company’s investment strategy of engaging startups whose technologies have the potential to transform how people experience financial security.”

For entrepreneurs to apply for the $20 million Black founder funding, they must align with Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures’ key strategic areas of focus:

      • Building for consumers’ changing financial preferences
      • Reimagining the client experience
      • The digital health revolution
      • Transformational analytics and technologies

A press release reports The Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator is gener8tor’s first accelerator exclusively focused on supporting Black founders.

The 12-week accelerator will reportedly run up to two cohorts of five companies per year and startups must meet Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures’ investment criteria as it relates to its areas of focus.

The first cohort for the program is set to kick off in early 2021.

Founders can find learn more about applying to the accelerator here.

For more information about Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, click here.