Women Who Tech, one of the largest organizations dedicated to funding women-led tech startups, launched a new grant program to identify standout female leaders in tech working to mitigate issues caused by the pandemic. 

The COVID-19 Tech Grant will award women-run companies innovating in industries such as  healthcare, education  and civic engagement. Of the five finalists, two will be named winners and will be rewarded either the $3,000 impact grant or the $10,000 innovation grant. Award recipients will also receive one-on-one pitch coaching. Applications close Sunday, August 23, at 11:59 p.m. PT.

“We believe one of the best ways to solve some of the world’s biggest problems that we’re facing as a society is through tech,” says Women Who Tech founder Allyson Kapin.

While women are often at the forefront of innovation in tech, they continue to face funding obstacles. The pandemic has only intensified this gap.  

“Funding for women-led startups has declined by over 30% between Q2 of 2019 and Q2 of 2020 and they were only getting 2.7% of funding to begin with,” says Kapin “For Latinx women-led startups: 0.32%. For Black women founders, funding is even more dismal at only 0.0006%.” 

Women Who Tech leans on its allies, including Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies and Women Who Tech advisory board member. Newmark, who’s the only male on Women Who Tech’s seven-person U.S. advisory board, is very clear about his role: “The idea is to give a voice to underserved populations, and then, for the most part, get out of their way,” says Newmark. 

Through past grant programs, Women In Tech has assisted companies like the Black female-founded streaming service kewliTV that’s aiming to combat media’s underrepresentation of Black narratives. The company’s content is now streaming on Comcast platforms. 

Women Who Tech wants to be an ongoing part of the funding gap conversation, with plans to release a survey accessing the top barriers and challenges women face within startup and tech culture. The organization also wants to expand its influence.  

“We’re thinking about ways we can fund more women-led startups who need our help globally,” says Kapin.

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