A team of Penn students in Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA) helped facilitate an impact investment into Melanence – an online professional ecosystem where communities of color are empowered to grow skills, build networks, and earn additional income.
After conducting rigorous due diligence on Melanence, the student team at Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA) is thrilled to help facilitate an impact investment deal with the start-up on the crowdfunding platform Netcapital.
The pandemic is accelerating the shift to online learning. However, instructors of color are under-represented on existing platforms. Additionally, online learning platforms utilize a “one size fits all” solution, which lacks diverse perspectives and teaching styles.
There is consistent evidence that students of color perform higher on standardized tests, have improved attendance, and have lower suspension rates when taught by teachers of their same race. Johns Hopkins University and American University report that Black students who have even one Black teacher by third grade are 13% more likely to enroll in college. Low income young Black men are 39% less likely to drop out of high school if they had at least one Black teacher in elementary school.
Melanence addresses these issues through an online learning platform that explicitly recruits instructors of color to create courses that are technically and culturally relevant to their target audience. The platform provides a safe space for communities of color to take the next step in their professional and entrepreneurial journeys by taking courses on a variety of topics with peers and instructors that understand their cultural context.
Exemplifying the collaborative culture of WIVA, this impact investment opportunity was sourced and executed by Wharton undergraduate student Tyler Jonas, W’23 and Wharton MBA student Alexander Weir, WG’22. “We are excited to support the Melanence team as they scale their platform and embark on this next stage of growth. Melanence’s mission of empowering communities of color to change the world is well-aligned with our purpose and we believe their trajectory offers promising opportunities for success,” they said.