An Atlanta-based venture capital grant spearheaded by the Fearless Fund firm has had all efforts toward championing Black women founders shut down by Georgia’s Appeals Court. A lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by the firm was filed by a conservative advocacy group back in August 2023.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the grants would allow access to funding for Black-women- owned-businesses, yet the lawsuit states that it is discriminatory to other races.
The American Alliance For Equal Rights, a nonprofit founded by conservative legal strategist Edward Blum, is suing the Fearless Fund. Blum is a repeated challenger of affirmative action in schools and businesses.
The Fearless Fund granted $20,000 to assist these businesses in their development. However, no grant winners can be determined until the legal case has been settled.
During a court meeting held on Sept. 26, the plaintiff’s attorneys urged the District Court to ban the use of racial eligibility criteria from the Fearless Fund’s application. Its motion was denied on grounds of free speech, as the Fearless Fund has a right to explicitly say its mission is to support Black women.
Later that evening, an emergency motion filed by the American Alliance to overturn the initial ruling was granted, with two of three judges determining that the Fearless Fund was “racially exclusionary.”
A lawyer on behalf of the Fearless Fund, Alphonso David, shared in a statement expressing his disagreement with the court’s ruling as they prepare for the next step in the process.
“We respectfully disagree with this court’s decision, appreciate the important points raised by the dissent, and look forward to further appellate review. We remain committed to defending the meaningful work of our clients,” said David. The legal team intends for the firm to continue its mission.
Fortunately for those impacted by this indefinite pause, other companies aligned with the values of uplifting Black female founders are continuing the work, including Collab Capital, which supports Black-owned businesses. However, the Fearless Fund’s efforts in distinctly backing Black women entrepreneurs remain at a standstill until the matter is resolved.