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The best source for news and information about crowdfunding for good.

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

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How Crowdfunding Can Revitalize the Black Wall Street

This is a guest post by Rashaan Everett, the founder of The Greenwood Project, a startup dedicated to rebuilding Black Wall Street.  He’s now dedicated to social entrepreneurship full time after Greenwood’s first funding raise; following stints with Accenture, Capital One, and Morgan Stanley. Rashaan has a B.S in Finance from Howard University and currently resides in his hometown of Long Beach, California.

Let’s take a moment to refocus. It’s been five years since the rise of social media-powered activism. The murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, amongst other events,  ignited a new wave of civil rights organizing and consciousness. Technology has played an undeniable role in this most recent chapter in our fight for equality. For the first time, videos of social injustice are broadcast directly to the world, and we can strategically leverage social media to empower ourselves with a voice that is too loud- and too widespread- to be silenced. Indeed, social media’s most important attribute is the dilution of a mainstream media that does not seek the voices and experiences of those who are not…mainstream. In this way, it has proven more democratic than traditional media could ever be.

Not surprisingly, we have more than taken advantage of this phenomenon. We heavily influence popular culture and sociopolitical discourse on several platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Social media has birthed a new generation of leaders, and the lines distinguishing “Black culture” and “pop culture” are rapidly blurring.

Our participation, energy, creativity, and leadership help power these billion dollar technology and social media companies, so why don’t we own a financial stake in these industries and use them to advance our communities? Technology, in general, provides an unprecedented opportunity to achieve more progress than our grandparents ever could. It’s time to channel our influence and dollars into building Black Business. But how?

Let’s try something different. Together we can double the number of Black-owned businesses over the next ten years. Since 2012, many Black Americans have reignited their passion for championing community progression. So far, however, we’ve achieved awareness, but little tangible progress. Harnessing the link between social change and financial independence is constantly being discussed, aimed at educating and uniting our communities. However, there’s been a lack of focus. What do we do now that we’ve decided something must be done? It’s time for us to put our money where our mouth is.

Rashaan Everett, courtesy of The Greenwood Project

Rashaan Everett, courtesy of The Greenwood Project

Barack Obama passed the JumpStart our Business (JOBS Act) to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs. Still, the major component of this legislation was activated just 17 months ago: Equity Crowdfunding. Equity Crowdfunding allows any American to own stock or debt in a private business for the first time in 83 years. It’s revolutionary, and this technology has the potential to transform Black economics. Since 1933, the wealthy enjoyed a government-protected monopoly that prevented middle-class Americans, and 98% of African-Americans, from investing in high-potential startups. To put it simply, White people have earned trillions through Silicon Valley’s technology since the year 2000. This is why the wealth gap is getting worse: it’s easy for the rich to get richer and almost impossible to overcome the hurdles without family-based wealth. Consider this: even if the founders of Uber came to your door 5 years ago with a great idea and asked for $100, it would’ve been illegal for you to invest in it (if you did make that investment, it’d be worth over $90,000 today).

Let’s use our mastery of social media technology to facilitate Equity Crowdfunding – the tool we can use to rebuild Black Wall Street. With just a few clicks, anyone can invest in a Black business. There can be opportunities to invest in franchises, cannabis companies, purchase shares of real estate, buy equity in creative projects or tech startups, and now anyone can loan money to Black entrepreneurs to fund their movies, restaurants, museums, bars, or literally any project that you believe me.

Think of it like a GoFundMe Campaign, but instead of donating to a cause; supporters can purchase equity or give a loan to support a business idea that matters to them and their community. It’s a game changer. Entrepreneurs can launch projects and use their friends and family as an investor base. Now, minority communities can raise money from each other instead of relying on the banking system or wealthy angel investors who don’t look like us. Even better, when these businesses succeed, the profits are returned to the same minority / middle-class investors; retaining and recycling wealth in our community like never before.

I challenge all aspiring entrepreneurs to launch that creative idea. You should know that there’s a new source of financial funding that doesn’t require convincing rich investors who may not relate to you that you have a good idea. I challenge today’s business owners to double down their focus, explore expansion and growth opportunities, and recognize Regulation Crowdfunding can propel your business to new heights. Building wealth begins with investing. People of all ages should consider making their first investments today, even if it’s only $100. If you’d appreciate updates regarding investment opportunities, sign up here

More established professionals should read about how Regulation Crowdfunding can diversify their portfolio. There is tangible wealth to be earned at all levels, with numerous investors pledging as much as 100k to Reg CF campaigns. In the Black community, we need to challenge our leaders and athletes to make these type of pledges to invest in minority communities today.

For the first time, there’s a tangible way to support our cause that doesn’t require donating money. Now, you can make a huge impact, and earn a financial reward too. There are no more excuses.

Crowdfunding Platform Directory

This list of crowdfunding platforms does not purport to be complete, but it will include dozens of crowdfunding sites you can consider for your campaign, giving you plenty of candidates for fundraising.

If you are part of the company and see an error that needs correcting, please send us an email.

Investment Crowdfunding Sites (click on the Name/URL to see a more complete profile):

Name/URL Social Impact Focus
BankRoll Includes Social Impact
EarlyShares Includes Social Impact
Equity Net Includes Social Impact
Flashfunders Includes Social Impact
Funding Circle Includes Social Impact
Funding Circle US Includes Social Impact
Gust Includes Social Impact
Localstake Includes Social Impact
Milaap Social Ventures Pte Ltd Includes Social Impact
Mindfull Investors Includes Social Impact
OfferBoard Includes Social Impact
OurCrowd Includes Social Impact
Rabble Includes Social Impact
RedCrow Includes Social Impact
Seed Equity Includes Social Impact
SeedUps Canada Includes Social Impact
StartEngine Includes Social Impact
SunFunder Includes Social Impact
NextSeed Includes Social Impact

Crowdfunding Sites for Donations and Rewards (click on the Name/URL to see a more complete profile):

Name/URL Personal/Nonprofit/Socent/Other/Everything
Classy Socent/Nonprofit Socent/Other
CommitChange Nonprofit
CureCrowd Other
Deposit a Gift Personal/Nonprofit Nonprofit
FreeFunder Personal
Fundly Personal/Nonprofit
FundRazr Personal/Nonprofit
Giveffect Inc. Nonprofit
GlobalGiving Nonprofit
GoFundMe Personal
HIPGive Socent/Other
Hispanics in Philanthropy Socent/Other
iFundWomen Socent/Other
Indiegogo Everything Personal/Socent/Other
Kickstarter Socent/Other
Kickante Everything
Kimbia Nonprofit Nonprofit/Other
Patreon Personal/Socent
peerbackers Socent
PledgeCents Personal/Other
RallyMe Personal/Other
Razoo Personal/Nonprofit
RideToGive Personal
RocketHub Nonprofit/Socent/Other
Spotfund Nonprofit/Other
Watsi Nonprofit
Women You Should Fund Socent/Other
Women’s Worldwide Web (W4) Socent/Other
121Giving Nonprofit

Real Estate Focused Sites (click on the Name/URL to see a more complete profile):

CrowdVenture, LLC
Patch of Land
Prodigy Network
Wellesley & Co.

If you know of a site that we should add to our list, please alert us here.

You Won’t Believe What She Does After Her Breast Cancer Treatment

Alice Crisci was a healthy young woman. At age 31, before having a child, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Prior to beginning aggressive treatments that would make conceiving difficult, she had her eggs harvested and fertilized and had the embryos frozen. She then endured the agonizing treatment for the cancer.

Five years later, with a green light from her oncologist, she did a frozen embryo transfer and conceived on the first try. Alice delivered a baby boy she named Dante. Today, they are both healthy. But the story doesn’t end here.

Dante and Alice Crisci

Dante and Alice Crisci

She remembered that after she started chemo, she decided to get a second opinion, resulting in an important change to her treatment. She also remembered how difficult that was. She’d also learned that medical information on the web is at best generic, at worst wrong and most often unreliable. She started developing an app to allow people to ask questions of medical experts.

To fund the startup, she launched a regulation CF crowdfunding campaign on Start Engine and raised more than ten times her minimum goal of $10,000.

Starting with fertility questions, the MedAnswers app is now working, providing free, immediate answers to health questions.

Read the full Forbes article and watch the interview here.Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!


Breaking the Bad From My Pilgrimage to the Home of Walter White

Last weekend, Gail and I visited Albuquerque, New Mexico on a quest to visit shooting locations for the show Breaking Bad. We drove from our home in Salt Lake City and then all around the city. We also visited Farmington and Santa Fe. We had a great time despite putting 1,800 miles on our rented Ford Focus in four days. I was feeling rather guilty about the environmental impact of such a trip so I found a way to offset my carbon impact.

Gail and I sold our car almost three years ago. I wrote about our decision for Forbes. It is one of the most popular articles I’ve written and by far the most well remembered. People still frequently comment on our decision to sell our BMW SUV. One of our motivations for selling it was to be more environmentally friendly. So this long road trip with virtually no socially redeeming value left me feeling a bit guilty.

The home of fictional Breaking Bad character Walter White

The home of fictional Breaking Bad character Walter White

Recently, I wrote a Forbes piece about Cool Effect, a crowdfunding site that sells carbon credits. I figured it was about time I put what I learned into practice.

First, I had to determine how much carbon my trip produced. There are lots of calculators out there so I picked the first one that tickled my fancy with a quick Google search. With less than one minute of data entry, the calculator estimated that my trip produced 0.46 metric tonnes of carbon. Frankly, I was relieved that it was so little. There were times I thought I could feel sea-level rising as I passed slow-moving trucks going uphill.

Next, I visited where I was presented with about a dozen projects that all provide carbon offsets. Today, the prices offered for carbon offsets ranged from $6.04 per tonne to $13.18. Each project does something different to reduce carbon.

The cheapest carbon offset project is called “What’s Cooking?” It provides fuel efficient cookstoves in Uganda, reducing the carbon emissions from cooking there.  The ancillary benefits of this program include saving money for low-income households as they buy and burn less fuel, mostly charcoal. It also reduces deforestation there–charcoal is produced by partially burning wood. Perhaps most importantly, the project improves the health of women and children who spend time around cooking fires.

The most expensive project is called “Putting Methane in Its Place.” The project is located on the Southern Ute Indian reservation in La Plata County, Colorado. There, natural coal seams exposed to the atmosphere by erosion are leaking methane. The Tribe developed a way to capture and use the methane, preventing it from leaking into the atmosphere and allowing Tribe members to use the methane rather than purchasing propane or natural gas that had been drilled. The project also creates jobs for Tribe members.

For my carbon offset–I went all kinds of crazy and bought one entire tonne of carbon offset despite having generated only 0.46 tonnes–I chose “Wind Power to the People.” This project in Costa Rica provides wind power to 50,000 people in 10,000 households in rural Costa Rica. It also provides income to co-op owners in impoverished areas.

All of the projects have been triple checked and verified to assure investors that the carbon offsets they buy are real.  A typical American will generate between 16 and 20 tonnes of carbon per year. A household of four might produce 80 tonnes. Offsetting 100 percent of that carbon production would cost as little as $483.20 or just about $40 per month. While not universally true, there is a positive correlation with income and carbon production. Bigger homes produce more carbon. More cars driven more miles produce more carbon. Taking public transit dramatically reduces your carbon footprint. So does eating less meat! The bottom line is that for most households, offsetting their carbon production is now as cheap as it is easy. Try breaking your bad at CoolEffect.

New Author, Podcaster Launches Radio Show With Crowdfunding Campaign

Tony Loyd is a podcaster who interviews social entrepreneurs. He has just been invited to host a weekly, drive-time radio show. He’s also finishing up a book. To launch all of this, Tony is running a crowdfunding campaign on

Tony lives by the mantra “miracles happen when you are in motion.” He says, the radio show came about because he was out and about, was producing a podcast and another host of the radio show connected him to the producer.

His book, Crazy Good Advice, features ten lessons from the 150 episodes of his show, extracting patterns and insights from the great social entrepreneurs he’s interviewed.

Tony is out to change the world.

He says, “Our business is focused only on amplifying the stories of social entrepreneurs. Stories move us. They take us out of our logical brains and help us to connect with one another.”

“When people hear stories of social good, they are engaged, informed and inspired,” he continues.  “Because social entrepreneurs are everyday people like you and me, when listeners hear their stories, they see themselves as possible changemakers too.”

The audio format is powerful, Tony says. “The stories inspire people to take action. Listeners are more inclined to give time, talent, and treasure to help a cause. Or, they take the leap and become changemakers themselves. The circle expands and encourages more social good and more stories that need to be told.”

Tony Loyd

Tony Loyd

More about the Social Entrepreneur:

Twitter: @SocEntPod

Every Monday you hear interviews with social entrepreneurs, founders, investors and thought leaders. They share their successes, failures and what they have learned along the way.

Tony’s bio:

Twitter: @TonyLoyd

Tony is the executive producer of the podcast Social Entrepreneur where you can hear the stories of changemakers who are making an impact on the world.

Tony has provided leadership to Fortune 500 companies for over 25 years, with global brands such as John Deere, Medtronic and Buffalo Wild Wings. He has extensive experience conducting strategic planning, leading organizational design, creating talent management strategy and conducting leadership development workshops.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and crowdfunding speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!


Nonprofit Crowdfunding Explained

Salvador Briggman, author of Nonprofit Crowdfunding Explained, says he shares all you need to know to succeed with your nonprofit crowdfunding goals.

Salvador says his goal was to share the insights that for-profit crowdfunders are using so that nonprofits could get those benefits, too. He’s excited by the potential for crowdfunding to help nonprofits get the word out about their inspiring work.

He notes that peer-to-peer fundraising is a better model for crowdfunding than a traditional, centralized approach. By empowering supporters to do the fundraising for your organization, you let them reach their friends directly and expand your reach infinitely.

Salvador points out, “You can’t leave anything to chance.” You have to equip your team with tweets, posts and links that they can instantly share without work or thought so that coming up with something to say isn’t their responsibility.

In this way, he says, a small group of advocates can help you raise more money more quickly.

Salvador, who says his superpower is understanding emotions, points out that you can’t get people to do anything without tapping into their emotions. Your crowdfunding campaign needs to do that.

Salvador’s business, CrowdCrux, provides information about crowdfunding in a variety of forms, including a blog, a podcast and books. He says, “I am solving the problem of the need for education about crowdfunding. I solve it by providing original free content and premium products to get people to their goals faster.” Salvador offers a free course on crowdfunding.

Salvador Briggman, courtesy of CrowdCrux

Salvador Briggman, courtesy of CrowdCrux

More about CrowdCrux:

Twitter: @crowdcrux

CrowdCrux is the #1 source online that will take you from a novice to crowdfunding pro. I put out a podcast, that has been downloaded more than 100,000 times, a blog, which had more than 1 million visits in 2015, and a YouTube channel that’s rapidly growing. I’ve also written four books on various topics related to crowdfunding. I started, which now has over 7,000 members and co-own

Salvador’s bio:

Twitter: @sbriggman

Salvador Briggman founded the popular blog, CrowdCrux, which has been cited by the New York Times, The Wallstreet Journal, CNN, Forbes and more. He helps entrepreneurs raise money on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. He also covers new developments in the crowdfunding industry.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and crowdfunding speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!


JOBS Act Opens New Window For Small Company IPOs

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

With the “dot com crash” in 2000, largely by regulatory design, small company IPOs all but disappeared from the American economic landscape.

A scarcely noticed part or title of the 2012 JOBS Act sought to address that directly by reinvigorating Regulation A, raising the cap from $5 million to $50 million and creating a path for a Reg A offering to be an effective IPO (initial public offering). The new rule is commonly called Reg A+.

In early 2016, Elio Motors went public using Regulation A.

The rules weren’t effective until mid-2015 and the market is just beginning to mature. Rod Turner is the founder and CEO of Manhattan Street Capital, one of the players in this nascent marketplace.

Turner says his firm has 18 clients preparing their Reg A+ offerings. Watch my discussion with Rod at the top of this article.

Rod is passionate about using capital for good, creating opportunities for women entrepreneurs and creating companies that will employ people at scale. He’s also a Forbes contributor who has written about these topics.

Rod says, “Mid-sized companies have very limited access to growth capital. Regulation A+ provides an excellent solution in that our companies can raise up to $50 mill per year from investors of any income level worldwide, and the shares can be publicly tradeable, making them more appealing to the investor and providing liquidity to the company founders.”

Allowing ordinary investors to participate in offerings of small companies, gives them the opportunity to participate in their growth. Back in the 1980s, Microsoft went public as a relatively small business and ordinary investors were able to participate in the growth of the company exceeding two orders of magnitude. On the other hand, Facebook didn’t go public or allow ordinary investors to participate until the company had reached a valuation of $100 billion–only wealthy investors participated in the creation of value.

The new marketplace is exciting. Watch the interview with Rod to learn how your organization can take advantage of Reg A+.

Rod Turner, courtesy of Manhattan Street Capital

Rod Turner, courtesy of Manhattan Street Capital

More about Manhattan Street Capital:

Twitter: @Manhattanstcap

Funding platform for mature startups and mid stage companies. using Regulation A+. We take companies through the whole Reg A+ offering process to achieve a successful Reg A+ offering. Our website technology integrates the necessary services so companies can make their offering work efficiently on Manhattan Street Capital.

We provide some services directly, others we provide by introducing our companies to specialized service providers: Specialized CrowdFunding Marketing agencies, Legal, Broker/Dealer, Investment Banks, Underwriters, Broker Dealer Syndicates, Market Makers, escrow, transfer agent and auditors.

Rod’s bio:

Twitter: @iamrodturner

High energy strategic thinker. Excellent leader. Engineer with skills in all areas. Experienced M&A expert. Crowdfunding expert.

M&A experience: At Symantec I led the takeovers of their first acquisition (TimeLine), and their most strategic acquisition, Norton. I drove the merger processes to ensure success and upside. The implementation of the Norton merger has been called “the best ever in Tech.” I also lead the successful acquisition of PCAnywhere and an AV technology company into the Norton Group. Mobile Automation was acquired by iPAS and Our Neighborhood Energy was acquired by CBD Energy Australia. Two informative experiences of being acquired.

Founder, CEO Manhattan Street Capital and FundAthena April 2015 – now

RegA+ growth capital marketplace for mid-sized companies. Adapting IPO business model to the Internet, using new SEC RegA+.

Advisor to startups and CEOs of large companies, 2004 to current. Chairman & cofounder CirrusLS SaaS, bank lending. Strategic Advisor AssistMyCase (SaaS Legal research). NetQuarry, a .NET app dev platform. Our Neighborhood Energy, electricity retailer in Australia. Workshops for Warriors, non-profit trains Veterans in advanced workshop skills free of charge. Numerous other startups.

Founder, Chairman and CEO, April 2011 – June 2013. Built business CrowdFunding marketplace with Mentors, advisers and unique innovations for scale.

Chairman, Artslant. Sept 2008 – current: CEO 2008 through 2010. Grew revenues 12.5%/month compound, and site page views by 700%.

Managing Partner, Irvine Ventures 1999-2003: Founded Irvine Ventures with Safi Qureshey, investing in tech startup companies, mentoring entrepreneurs. Raised $32million in angel and venture capital for, and built six startups.

Chairman & Founder, Mobile Automation 1996-2004. LAN & Internet software configuration, MSP and Enterprise IT market. Angel financing (Peter Norton), VC from Greylock (Dave Strohm). Sold the company to iPass (IPAS on NASDAQ) in 11/04.

President & CEO, Knowledge Adventure 1993-94. Grew revenues from $240k/month to $1.5m/month. Raised $12 million venture capital from Mayfield (Mike Levinthal).

Symantec 1985-1993. At startup, Executive VP for worldwide marketing, sales & product management. Promoted to division General Manager with P&L 5/87. Raised three rounds of venture capital, lead investor Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (John Doerr). In 1987 as GM, I ran the merger and accelerated the first company acquired by Symantec-Breakthrough Inc, TimeLine project management, and the Q&A database line. Trebled product group revenue in three years while generating 100% of Symantec’s profit. Grew Symantec revenues from zero to $250mil/year. IPO 1989.

In 1990 Symantec acquired Peter Norton Computing (maker of the Norton Utilities), and I was GM for the merger and the business. Introduced the Norton Antivirus in ‘91, the main profit generator for Symantec. In three years we grew Norton revenues from $20/mill/year to $200mill/year, taking the Norton group from 25% of Symantec’s revenue to 82%.

Acquired two companies into the Norton Group.

Chairman, Cofounder 1984-1990: Microport Software Inc. Startup ported UNIX System V to the 286.

Ashton Tate/dBASE 1981-1984: Startup microcomputer database software company, 12th employee. VP of US marketing and sales; GM of the International division. Grew sales from $2m to $150m/yr, IPO in ‘83. Made dBASE the market leading database on the PC by 1983.

Aston Univeristy 1975-1979: First Class Honors, Bachelor of Science in Energy Technology (Electrical & Mechanical Engineering) from Aston University, England. Stanford: Graduated Executive Institute 1983.

Interests: Married, with two sons. Boating. Racing cars. Public speaking. Altruism. Leadership. Innovation Born on a farm in the UK, moved to Silicon Valley to get into VC funded startups. My accent is gradually migrating across the Atlantic Ocean.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!


This Entrepreneur Is Working To Address Affordable Housing Crisis With Shipping Containers

The country’s fascination with tiny homes has led to a nascent movement using shipping containers for low-income housing. With some tiny homes and apartments having fewer than 200 square feet, the 40-foot shipping container and its approximately 320 square feet could feel relatively spacious.

Wanona Satcher, the CEO and founder of ReJuve Corp based in Atlanta, is launching a new initiative to create “Plug-In Pods” using shipping containers. She hopes to create a flexible model for l0w-income housing that addresses need of a range of people, from millennial minimalists to seniors who may want or need to live backyard-close to family caregivers.

Be sure to watch my interview with Wanona at the top of this artice.

Two Plug-In-Pods, one home and one office, rendered side-by-side courtesy of ReJuve Corp

Two Plug-In-Pods, one home and one office, rendered side-by-side courtesy of ReJuve Corp

Recently, Wanona launched a crowdfunding campaign on the new ifundwomen crowdfunding site. She has already raised $11,920 toward her goal of $20,000 to construct a prototype dwelling in a container.

The costs for creating a dwelling begin with the $2,000 to $3,000 price for a container. Wanona hopes to keep the all-in cost between $20,000 and $40,000.

Wanona is seeking to use a land trust to create financial models that will keep the housing units affordable long into the future. For the prototype dwelling, Wanona has received a donated site.

Container homes could potentially have very long lives. Containers are designed to withstand weather when shipped across oceans, on trains or highways. The strength of a container could be an optimal space for a dwelling.

Wanona is working to acquire and equip a manufacturing a facility where the containers can be converted. This will create jobs and allow the completed homes to be shipped to a site for installation.

She hopes that the homes will contribute to solutions for poverty in America. By providing radically affordable housing, she hopes to enable people to find sustainably affordable lifestyles.

To learn more, visit Wanona’s crowdfunding page at ifundwomen.

Wanona Satcher, courtesy of ReJuve Corp

Wanona Satcher, courtesy of ReJuve Corp

More about ReJuve Corp:

ReJuve Corp is an Atlanta-based charitable urban design nonprofit for social good. Our team reuses and upcycles spaces and materials to develop permanent equitable communities and effective neighborhood services around the globe through cost-efficient and environmentally sound methodologies.

Wanona’s bio:

Wanona Satcher is an urban designer, landscape architectural designer, city planner, economic developer and has produced children’s theatre. Wanona holds Masters degrees in landscape architecture and community planning from Auburn University as well as Economic Development and Finance Professional Certification from the National Development Council in small business development and real estate development. She’s been featured in the Huffington Post, GOOD Magazine and was a Next City Vanguard. Wanona is currently working on a crowdfunding campaign to rapidly build affordable housing and entrepreneurial spaces in low-wealth communities.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!


New Venture Seeks $50k to Teach Coding to Adults on Autism Spectrum

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Oliver Thornton says his Aspergers is his super power. His brother, who is also on the autism spectrum, serves as a role model. Because autism hits close to home, he wanted to do something to address the unemployment rate for those with autism, which approaches 85 percent, he says. So, he launched Coding Autism with Austen Weinhart.

The two visited with me about their plans. Watch the interview at the top of the article.

Oliver, who serves as the company’s CEO, says, “Although we are pre-revenue, we just recently launched our crowdfunding campaign with the goal of fundraising a minimum of $50,000 on StartSomeGood. If we are successful with fundraising $50,000 on that platform, we will be able to cover the minimum costs to make the Coding Autism ASPIRE program happen.”

The money they are raising will go to pay the instructor, an assistant instructor, an occupational therapist, a social skills intervention expert, a career counselor and to pay for the space where the intensive 15-week course will be taught. Those who complete the course are expected to have sufficient skills to be able to begin a career as a software developer.

Oliver adds, that if they exceed the $50,000 goal they will be able to discount the tuition to the first class of students. If they reach $120,000, they can waive tuition altogether.

As of now, Coding Autism has raised $18,815.

Oliver says mentorship is key to the program’s success, “Research has proven that adults with autism tend to do significantly better in their careers and live more fulfilling lives when they have mentors and advocates. Coding Autism has made it one of its cornerstones to provide ongoing advocacy and mentorship services to all Coding Autism students. Our Coding Autism mentors and advocates ensure that all Coding Autism students stay on track with their curriculum requirements, their personal goals, their employment goals, and more.”

Readers can learn more and contribute to the campaign by visiting StartSomeGood.

More about Coding Autism:

Twitter: @codingautism

Coding Autism is a full-service professional coaching and training company that trains adults on the autism spectrum in professional skills such as software engineering, quality assurance, and web development. We also assist our graduates in finding employment within the software and technology industries. We do so by providing services such as immersive programs and bootcamps, resume workshops, career counseling, interview preparation, and coaching/mentorship, all of which is designed around providing an environment where people on the spectrum can thrive.

Oliver Thornton, courtesy of Coding Autism

Oliver Thornton, courtesy of Coding Autism

Oliver’s bio:

When I was two years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome shortly after my older brother was diagnosed with Autism. In 1994, the year of my diagnosis, having any variation of Autism was perceived as a horrific condition by society and experts in the medical field. In fact, doctors had told my parents that I would never develop adequate social skills and to not expect him to succeed independently in life.

Throughout my adolescent years, I struggled with my speech, making friends, and lacked self confidence in his intelligence and ability to succeed. One day, I had a realization. Through the motivational forces of autism influencers such as Temple Grandin, I transformed my mentality of what it truly meant to be an individual on the autism spectrum.

With this newly adopted mentality, I dove head on into my later years of college at California Lutheran University (CLU), where I was able to accomplish impressive feats such as obtaining my Real Estate Salesperson License, co-founding and spearheading CLU’s professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, and winning CLU’s 2016 New Venture Competition.

Since my college graduation, I have devoted my waking hours to building my father’s real estate team/Real estate representation at Compass in Beverly Hills as well as building my start-up Coding Autism, which helps and trains autistic individuals in professional skills such as software engineering, website development, QA, etc as well as assists in finding and obtaining employment in the software and technology industries. In recent months, I have been slightly drifting away from real estate and moving towards working on Coding Autism full-time.

I am confident that my entrepreneurial mindset, my gift of Asperger’s syndrome, and my drive to succeed and make the autism community more progressive will allow me to satisfy my highest endeavors with Coding Autism and my future ventures. Eventually, I sees myself manifesting into one of the most influential advocates, thought leaders, and mentors of the autistic community in my generation.

Austen Weinhart, courtesy of Coding Autism

Austen Weinhart, courtesy of Coding Autism

Austen’s bio:

I come from a background of extensive experience in the technology space, performing roles in marketing, quality assurance, and web development. Early on as a student at UC Berkeley, I was the president of the public relations student group, PR @ Cal. After graduating from Berkeley, I worked on both technical and marketing projects for high-profile clients such as Adobe, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and others. I was drawn into Coding Autism both for my passion for autism advocacy and also as someone who is a product of a coding bootcamp education myself. I am eager to create an environment where others can turn their lives around by learning to code, just as I did.

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Devin is a journalist, author and crowdfunding speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!


Journalist Champions More Inclusive Community Capital

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Amy Cortese is a rare bird indeed. She is almost alone in focusing her pen on crowdfunding’s ability to build underserved communities. She is equally interested in the place-based communities and demographic communities. Her book, Locavesting, is the definitive book on the topic.

Amy’s business, also called Locavesting, serves as a source of information for communities seeking greater access to capital.

Amy explains her view of the problem, “We live in an age of massive wealth inequality and lack of economic access, especially for women, people of color and those in underserved areas. How do we create an economy that works for all, instead of the few? The first thing is to tackle finance and channel more resources into communities.”

Access to capital for underserved communities is one of the great promises of crowdfunding. By reducing the dependence of women and minorities on traditional sources of capital like banks and venture capital that have not met their needs, crowdfunding hold the potential to lift communities.

Amy says, “Locavesting has chronicled and championed the rise of community capital.”

Recently, Amy launched a new platform, she describes as “Kayak for crowdfunding” that aggregates equity crowdfunding offerings in one place. She calls the new service Investibule.

“Investibule takes that a big step forward by connecting people with investment opportunities in their communities,” she says. “We believe in the wisdom of the community. Our goal is to accelerate the movement by raising awareness and shifting the financial narrative and flow of money into these emerging community-friendly investments.”

Great challenges remain for crowdfunding to achieve its potential for changing communities. The scale of equity crowdfunding in 2016 remained far below the hopes of the industry.

Amy says the number one challenge is education. “Most people have not heard of crowdfunding, or may be intimidated by the idea of directly investing. We also recognize that in some communities, there is not much disposable income to invest. So while the will may be there, the means may not be.”

Amy recognizes, too, that crowdfunding and other related community financing mechanisms can’t solve all of the problems for underserved populations.

“Individual investing is just one slice of the pie—albeit a potentially powerful one,” she says. “Inequality, economic justice are such deep issues, we need concerted action on the part of institutional investors, corporations and lawmakers. In addition, many entrepreneurs need technical assistance and coaching before they are ready to raise money—we don’t address that part of the equation.”

Despite the challenges, Amy remains optimistic. “We hope to contribute to, in a small way, a more fair and just economy and society. You can’t have a healthy economy without healthy, resilient communities. By channeling more capital to community-based ventures, we hope to grow a new generation of job-creating entrepreneurs and empower communities to invest in themselves and they change they want to see. We believe in the idea of community underwriting, that the wisdom of the community can surface and support the best ideas and ventures.”

On Thursday, January 12, 2017 at noon Eastern, Amy will join me here for a live discussion about her work to improve access to capital for struggling communities. Tune in here (at the top of this article) then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Amy Cortese, courtesy of Locavesting

Amy Cortese, courtesy of Locavesting

More about Locavesting:

Twitter: @investibule

Locavesting is the definitive source for news and educational content about the evolving community capital and crowdfinance fields. We shine a spotlight on the innovate models that are empowering entrepreneurs, investors and their communities. Building on that base, is a new aggregation platform that connects investors with crowdfunded offerings in their communities—a “Kayak for community capital.”

Amy’s bio:

Twitter: @locavesting

AMY CORTESE is a journalist who writes about topics spanning business, finance & food for publications including the New York Times and B magazine. Her book, Locavesting, was one of the pioneering works on the emerging local investing and community capital movement. She is the founder & editor of, a media and educational site that covers the evolving community finance space, and cofounder of investibule, a new discovery platform for community-based investments. Based in Brooklyn, Amy has been named a “Top 30 Crowdfunding Thought Leader,” and was awarded a New Capital Markets Leadership Award by the Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Association. She was honored to present at the historic April 2012 Rose Garden signing of the JOBS Act.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!


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