2020: A Year of Learning, Gratitude and Growth - SecondMuse

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    Co-CEOs Carrie Freeman and Todd Khozein reflect on some of SecondMuse's proudest moments of 2020.




    Wednesday, December 23, 2020

    Dear Friends & Collaborators,

    If there was ever a year that so clearly highlighted the need for resilient and inclusive economies, it was this one. As we reflect back on 2020, we are incredibly proud to have been at the forefront of solutions to suddenly raging global challenges.

    So many of these challenges — from global supply-chain failures to racial inequities the pandemic so clearly exposed — have been the sustained focus of our work for years. In 2020, the threads of our ongoing work came together and enabled us to make immediate contributions to pandemic relief, while launching a series of groundbreaking initiatives that we believe will help guard against future shocks.

    In the short term, we were grateful to play a role in filling shortages of medical supplies in New York and convening 15,000 global innovators to tackle pandemic-related problems through the NASA SpaceApps COVID-19 Challenge. We were especially pleased to provide support and stability to entrepreneurs around the world — many from historically marginalized groups, whose communities have been bearing the brunt of the crisis — as they adapted to the new normal.

    But even as we pivoted to address pressing needs of the moment, we also laid the groundwork for longer-term ventures that will move the dial on economic equity, and make communities and our planet more resilient.

    This year, we were thrilled to launch:


    The $50M fund is the largest-ever VC fund to invest in Midwest, minority-led startups. The Wall Street Journal included its General Partner, Candice Mattews Brackeen, on a list of 10 female VCs “grooming the next generation of game-changing startups.”


    This $50 million initiative, backed by Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures, is designed to accelerate the representation and leadership of women in tech. It kicked off in January with the launch of its first city, Chicago, and will announce the expansion to two other cities next year.

    The new initiative offers global innovators comprehensive climate tech programming in NY. It formalizes and expands the SecondMuse and NextCorps partnership, which has helped 30+ climate tech businesses manufacture products & raise $28M in the last 2 years.

    We were inspired to witness Headstream, our digital youth wellbeing program, and its accelerator evolve into a community at the forefront of innovation for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and LBGTQI+ youth. And amid so much global grief, we were filled with optimism to see so many innovators forge ahead with critical work: More than 400 innovation teams developed inclusive solutions to the scourge of plastic pollution in South and Southeast Asia through the Incubation Network’s (TIN) Circular Innovation Jam. It was the first time we offered the initiative and were proud not only of its success and global reach, but that the TIN team executed it so effectively amid the pandemic. We were similarly impressed to see more than 1,300 teams from nearly every continent submit bold visions for more sustainable food futures through the Food System Vision Prize. The list goes on.

    The enthusiasm we’ve seen around these initiatives — and our broader work to strengthen gender and racial equity, and improve the lives of women and underserved communities across economies — has been an enormous source of encouragement and validation. Our 2020 “State of Entrepreneurship in the U.S.” study amplified this validation by revealing a pronounced yearning among business owners and innovators for economic justice and inclusion.

    The study was part of our broader effort to dig deep into the lessons of 2020 and use even greater precision to diagnose and address economic challenges, from struggling U.S. Main Streets to cities in Southeast Asia.

    We couldn’t have done all of this without your support and collaboration. We are deeply grateful to you and encourage you to continue working with us in the new year to bring sustainability and resilience into the next decade.

    Your friends,
    Co-CEOs, SecondMuse