Finally! A Cleantech Entrepreneur Award Focused On Women & People of Color

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It’s no secret that the cleantech space is overwhelmingly white and male. (Oh, really, you’ve not noticed? Check out what these authors have to say about the gender and race disparity in renewables: CleanTechnica, GTM, Recharge (gated), and Energy Post).

Diversity and inclusion within the renewable space is one of the defining issues of this sector. As we work to build a future that benefits all, we need to ensure that our companies, boards, and teams include humans that are representative of the bigger world. Not only that, research shows that companies that include more women and have better diversity measures in place perform better overall.

This is a topic close to my heart, so I was grateful to have this news from Clean Energy Trust land in my inbox. They are hosting a funding opportunity specifically for women and people of color – it’s called the U.S. Bank Cleantech Inclusion Award, and they want to support sustainable innovation and reward those companies outside the dominant cleantech/renewable paradigm.

The following was shared with CleanTechnica from the Clean Energy Trust team. 

US Bank Cleantech Inclusion Award (2)


Clean Energy Trust, a Chicago-based nonprofit with a mission to support cleantech innovation in underserved markets, is excited to identify and help support high-potential founders of startup companies who are female or people of color working on innovative clean energy, sustainability, and environmental solutions.

Clean Energy Trust has partnered with U.S. Bank to provide funding to these underserved and underrepresented cleantech entrepreneurs through the U.S. Bank Cleantech Inclusion Award.

This award will be granted to an entrepreneur who is female or a person of color, building an innovative company that benefits the environment, creates jobs, and drives economic development. To be eligible, the founder’s company must have a product or service that mitigates harmful emissions, reduces carbon, or otherwise positively impacts the environment. Eligible sectors include renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart buildings/cities, water, ag-tech, energy storage, mobility/advanced transportation, and circular economy.

The award recipient will receive a non-recourse grant of $25,000, well as 12-months of business mentorship from Clean Energy Trust and heightened exposure to both investors and potential customers.

“Finding funding for and building a cleantech business is daunting for anybody. Unfortunately, these challenges are amplified for founders who are female or people of color,” commented Erik Birkerts, CEO of Clean Energy Trust. “We’re excited to partner with U.S. Bank to leverage our experience in finding, funding, and growing cleantech startups to help these founders succeed.”

The geographic reach for this award includes companies headquartered in the following states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. We encourage company founders to apply today.

Learn more about this opportunity by visiting Clean Energy Trust’s website. The award application window is now open and closes on December 31, 2019.

For more information on and our investments in cleantech, read about our 501vc® Seed Fund and our portfolio companies.

Clean Energy Trust finds, funds, and grows high impact cleantech startups from the Mid-Continent region of the United States. Structured as a nonprofit, Clean Energy Trust makes seed investments and provides patient, hands-on support to help entrepreneurs scale and succeed. To date, Clean Energy Trust has invested in 31 companies.



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Andrea Bertoli

I'm a marketing and sales professional focused on mission-driven businesses. I'm a journalist, green investor, wellness educator, surfer, and yogi. Find delicious food and wellness stuff on my Instagram @VibrantWellness.

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