Fearless Fund Barred From Providing Grant Funding To Black Women Entrepreneurs

Fearless Fund has been barred temporarily from providing funding to Black entrepreneurs.

As AFROTECH™ previously reported, the venture capital fund had been sued by Edward Blum and his American Alliance for Equal Rights group in August 2023 for “explicit racial exclusion” by creating a grant program dedicated solely to Black women, The Washington Post shares.

Initially, U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash had ruled in favor of Fearless Fund, but the verdict was blocked by a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Sept. 30, 2023.

Fearless Fund, looking to retract the verdict, filed to appeal the September ruling.

In the most recent update, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has temporarily blocked Fearless Fund from continuing its efforts to support Black women entrepreneurs with funding, CNN reports. The panel judges ruled the Fearless Fund’s Fearless Strivers Grant Contest is “substantially likely to violate” Title 42 of the US Code’s provisions, which does not permit the use of race as a consideration for awarding and enforcing contracts, the outlet notes.
“The American Alliance for Equal Rights is grateful that the court has ruled that the Fearless Fund’s racially exclusive grant competition is illegal,” Blum said in an emailed statement, according to The Washington Post. “Our nation’s civil rights laws do not permit racial distinctions because some groups are overrepresented in various endeavors, while others are underrepresented.”

Fearless Fund Co-Founder and CEO Arian Simone told CNN:

“I am shattered for every girl of color who has a dream but will grow up in a nation determined not to give her a shot to live it. On their behalf, we will turn the pain into purpose and fight with all our might.”

She added, “America is supposed to be a nation where one has the freedom to achieve, the freedom to earn, and the freedom to prosper. Yet, when we have attempted to level the playing field for underrepresented groups, our freedoms were stifled.”

Fearless Fund Co-Founder and General Partner Ayana Parsons commented via Linkedin: “I am beyond disappointed with today’s ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the American Alliance for Equal Rights’ (AAER) versus Fearless federal court case. The court’s decision against Fearless Fund and the Fearless Foundation is a setback for women of color and all marginalized communities.”

Looking ahead, Fearless Fund and its legal team are weighing their options.

“This is the first court decision in the 150+ year history of the post-Civil War civil rights law that has halted private charitable support for any racial or ethnic group,” Jason Schwartz, a lawyer with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, which is representing the Fearless Fund, said in a statement emailed to The Washington Post. “The dissenting judge, the district court and other courts have agreed with us that these types of claims should not prevail.”

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