Community Carrot advances social justice and racial equity by teaching young adult entrepreneurs from low-income backgrounds how to start their own successful business.
Founded in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D.C. as a community response to chronic youth underemployment, Community Carrot’s co-founders listened to input from over 200 community members, most of whom come from multi-generational poverty. They told us how an entrepreneurship school or program would give entrepreneurial young adults a path to the workforce that was otherwise unavailable to them.
Our Framework for Advancing Racial Equity and Inclusion
Community Carrot champions inclusivity and values each individual for their unique contribution to our program. We embrace the power that comes from bringing together people of diverse backgrounds. We practice active listening to be sure that all perspectives are heard. We recognize the harm White supremacist systems have caused, and in particular their effects on Black people, indigenous people, Latinx/Hispanic people and many other people of color (collectively referred to below as “BIPOC”). To us, racial equity and inclusion mean fair opportunity for every person — whatever their race, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or religion.
Community Carrot is committed to applying an intersectional approach to advancing racial equity, to examining power imbalances, and to looking at each individual as a whole. We will model the equity we believe should be present throughout society, and we will combat individual, institutional, and structural forms of racism and White supremacy in our society through all facets of our operations and programming. Specifically, we commit to:
- Ensure our workplaces and program spaces are inclusive environments where BIPOC feel safe to bring their whole selves and can expect unbiased, safe, and just treatment.
- Seek platforms and opportunities for BIPOC participants, staff, leadership and our Leadership Board to contribute to their growth as they wish, through opportunities created by the organization, public discourse, and through our efforts to amplify their voices.
- Strive to ensure our staff, leadership and Leadership Board are reflective of the demographics of the communities we serve.
- Provide equitable pathways for growth for participants, staff, Leadership Board and prospective hires who are BIPOC.
- Incorporate anti-racist and non-discriminatory practices through all aspects of our programming, including curricula design, selection and training of staff, leadership, Leadership Board, curricula implementation, and outcomes evaluation.
- Keep our programs 100% free for all participants and strive to eliminate socio-cultural, financial, and physical barriers to participation in our programs.
Research shows that access to capital, business instruction, and engaged mentors are essential for businesses to succeed. But these three vital cornerstones are in short supply for young adults from low-income backgrounds. And social service supports to address mental health, homelessness, or other hurdles, are essential for these young entrepreneurs to be able to focus on their business.
The “carrot” of start-up capital, business instruction, mentors from our community of caring volunteers, and social services supports, transforms lives of our participants. We instill a personal mission in our participants – to build a successful business of their own – which in turn generates a roadmap for demonstrable incremental steps to bring participants into the middle class.
The Carrot model is based around providing these supports to level the playing field.
If you are a business owner or community leader seeking to give back, we welcome you into our community!
Community Carrot co-founder David Sheon moved from DC to Seattle in 2018 and formed a partnership with the Social Impact Y (YMCA of Greater Seattle). The Y helped to identify our first Seattle cohort of 13 participants. The Y provided the wrap around services to support their journey. In 2020, a blend of Seattle-based business leaders and social service providers linked arms to create our own 501c3 non-profit. In 2021, our second Seattle cohort of 14 entrepreneurs was placed and supported by our in-house life coaches and instructors.
To date, 40 businesses have been started through the Carrot program, with every participant receiving their business license.
You can learn more about the small businesses and partners that support Carrot here.