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How this nonprofit is closing the diversity gap in social impact leadership

Represented Foundation is a partner nonprofit that was born out of a desire to close the diversity gap in social impact leadership.

The idea for the organization first came about in South Africa in 2008, when the founder Noel McKenzie was interning with an NGO committed to serving street children in Cape Town. Observing that the community served was comprised of 100% people of color, while the only non-White employee in the company was the van driver, Noel wondered how program participants were supposed to learn to become leaders, without the opportunity to see what themselves represented in the roles. When Represented Foundation was established in 2017, it was built around the mission to create a community network where emerging Black and Brown social impact leaders could get the training they need, before stepping confidently into the role, themselves. interviewed Represented Foundation’s marketing coordinator, Andrea Sanchez-Mendoza to share how the organization is growing its impact, and how corporate teams can be a part of it.

Tell us about the impact Represented Foundation has made on the communities you serve. Any success stories you like to share?

Here at Represented Foundation we have made an impact by running 4 cohorts of our  incubator Vision. Execution. Results. (V.E.R.) for Black and Brown social impact leaders. The six-month cohort style leadership development program brings training, mentoring and executive coaching support to social impact leaders from different seasoned, nonprofit professionals of color. 

All of our V.E.R. Fellows that have come through our program have gone on to do great work within their communities, and continue to grow their own organizations. We would like to highlight one of our 2020 V.E.R. Alumni, Nicole Barnwell, President of “The HBCU Hub.” She has educated 1,5000 total students about HBCUs, and has awarded $10,000 in scholarships to students to attend college. She is truly making a difference in the lives of many students in her community. We are proud to share that Nicole has just received her first official grant from the Citizens Committee for NYC for $2,500. 

In a recent interview with Nicole, gushed about her time with Represented. “(Being) from a background that wasn’t nonprofit related, it helped me to understand the social impact and nonprofit space a lot better…especially as a black woman, entering into a predominantly white space.” ​We love to hear from our fellows and alumni on how much our program helped them on their way to creating their own legacy. 

We are so proud of the accomplishments of our V.E.R Alumni and we love to share their stories on our new blog series: “The Legacy.” Read the full interview here.

How does offering virtual activities through help your organization’s mission?

Our mission is to close the diversity gap in social impact leadership, providing emerging Black & Brown entrepreneurs with relevant panel discussions and ten core training sessions in the fundamentals of strong business development, fundraising financial management and more to help build their new  social enterprise.

Learning directly from established leaders really helps our fellows grow and expand their knowledge of the nonprofit sector, and refine their organizations through group discussion. During PRIDE month, and in honor of Juneteenth we were honored to have the co-founders of BLK MKT VINTAGE , join us for an intimate panel. Our fellows learned many lessons in running a social enterprise from these two amazing women to create an impact in their community.  With, we look forward to helping our fellows and alumni step into their leadership by becoming panelists, themselves and helping others identify early struggles and successes of emerging social impact leaders. 

How can corporate teams help you achieve your mission?

Our corporate teams are invaluable to us here at Represented Foundation. By partnering with us they help us create a real future for our Black & Brown social impact leaders. 

One of our biggest corporate supporters is Warby Parker. This cohort the company provides 16 volunteers to support fellows, during Volunteer Service Groups. (VSG)  By dedicating their time and talent to our Black and Brown Social Impact Leaders, volunteers can help spearhead growth and equity for these amazing new social enterprises.. If you’re interested in becoming one of our corporate sponsors, you can find out more information here

Do you see changes in people’s mindsets after volunteering with your organization?

Our Volunteer Service Groups (VSGs) help our Black and Brown social impact leaders by supporting them in bringing their ideas to life. They can offer their services in these three areas; business development, operations & finance, and marketing & communications.​ Once you become a part of our team, you become a member of our family for life. Our volunteers have gone on to serve as long-time mentors, supporters and advisors to the new companies created by our fellows. We love to see volunteers come back year after year, and our alumni are still active members in our community. 



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