Proximity Accelerator

Empowering promising, early-stage entrepreneur to pursue impact at scale

The Proximity Accelerator was launched in 2016 to address the severe lack of diversity in leadership in the nonprofit sector. In today’s workforce, people of color (African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans) make up less than one-fifth of executive director positions in the sector, and reports indicate that this number has not changed over the last 10 years, even as the populations have grown. Increasing the number of social entrepreneurs and social sector leaders who come from, and look like the communities they serve will strengthen their efforts and their impact.

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Sandra Gutierrez
Founder & National Director, Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors
Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors supports parents in their role as family leaders and as their child’s first and most influential teacher in a home that is their child’s first school. Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors’ two-generation approach builds parent leadership skills and knowledge to promote family well-being and positive education outcomes for children.
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Hiewet Senghor
Founder & CEO, The Black Teacher Collaborative
BTC’s mission is to engage, develop, and support an intergenerational collective of Black educators, who will ensure that Black children achieve at high levels academically; while simultaneously preparing them with the intellectual, social, emotional, and cultural capital to actively participate in the ongoing advancement of their communities.
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Aaron Walker
Founder & CEO, Camelback Ventures
Camelback Ventures aims to address the inequities of entrepreneurship by providing coaching, capital, and connections to underrepresented entrepreneurs. We work with our social impact innovators through our Fellowship with the ultimate goal of creating great schools and prosperous, livable communities for all families.
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Jamilah Prince-Stewart
Executive Director, FaithActs for Education
FaithActs for Education is a grassroots community organizing nonprofit based in Bridgeport, Connecticut. We are people of faith building power to get our children the education they deserve.
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Diego Arambula
Executive Director, GO Public Schools
GO Public Schools builds and supports a multi-city network of local coalitions, whose members — parents, educators, and community allies — work together to expand access to quality education in California’s most historically underserved communities.
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Monalisa Smith
Founder, President & CEO, Mothers for Justice and Equality
The mission of MJE is to end neighborhood violence by empowering mothers and youth to challenge the normalization of violence and become effective catalysts for change in their homes, schools, and communities. By reclaiming the identity of our communities we restore a sense of hope and purpose for children, youth, and adults.
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Veronica Palmer
Co-Founder & CEO, RISE Colorado
RISE Colorado works to Educate, Engage, and Empower low-income families and families of color to RISE as change agents for educational equity in our public school system.
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Carmita Semaan
Founder & President, Surge Institute
Surge Institute’s mission is to educate and develop leaders of color who create transformative change in urban education.