July 29, 2021
The following is a press release from Mentor Spaces, a company in ECMC Group's Education Impact Fund portfolio
Mentor Spaces, a community-driven mentorship platform helping companies scale their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, today announced it has raised $2.5MM in a seed round of funding. The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact (AmFam Institute) led the round, with participation from ECMC, Portfolia, Rethink Education, Service Provider Capital, and The Social Entrepreneurs' Fund.
"As one of the largest mentorship communities for underrepresented students and professionals, funds from this round will enhance our ability to support our clients' goals to efficiently build diverse talent pipelines through a mentorship-centered strategy," said Chris Motley, founder and CEO, Mentor Spaces. "As a Black founder, raising institutional capital is not easy, and our team is thrilled at the positive response that the market has shown to our unique approach to solve one of the biggest challenges talent acquisition leaders face today."
While LinkedIn's research shows that one's location, education, and employment can give individuals a 12-fold advantage in gaining access to opportunity, underrepresented professionals without confidence and social capital are at a significant disadvantage when pursuing new job opportunities. Many mentorship solutions in the market don't address the key issues caused by this "network gap," further limiting opportunities for underrepresented students and professionals. Recent studies also show that Black employees are leaving early-career jobs in droves due to the lack of support and visibility to opportunities at their organizations.
Mentor Spaces' native mobile app facilitates career conversations between prospective candidates and "in the know" employees to support confident decision-making, and provides the social capital necessary to close the network gap. With a reach of more than 50,000 members, the technology leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure that conversations with experts are aligned to one's professional interests and goals through asynchronous Q&As and live mentor sessions in group and 1:1 formats.
"Most mentorship technology and programs exist within the ‘four walls' of companies, limiting access to people externally who need mentorship the most," said Motley. "As a Black kid from the South Side of Chicago with a teenaged single mother, there was no way I could have navigated to a career at Goldman Sachs had I not had a conversation with someone who worked there or in the industry. A person can't be who they haven't seen."
This unprecedented approach to the practice of mentorship allows companies, including Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Employee Resource Group (ERG) leaders, to cultivate relationships with underrepresented candidates before and after formal recruiting events.
"Our mission at the AmFam Institute is to close equity gaps," said Rob Kornblum, Principal & Fund Manager, AmFam Institute. "Mentor Spaces is the first company we have seen to enable mentoring at scale, particularly for underrepresented talent. We're thrilled to help the Mentor Spaces team grow to be a key tool in improving diversity, inclusion, and retention."
Several global enterprises and Fortune 500s leverage the power of Mentor Spaces, including GM Financial, TIAA, T-Mobile, and UBS. Mentor Spaces enables these companies to enhance brand, engage colleagues, and mentor historically marginalized populations to cultivate diverse talent pipelines. Organizations benefit from up to a 30 percent increase in employee retention, a 50 percent decrease in time spent on admin and talent sourcing, and a significant increase in employee engagement.
The seed round of funding will support the expansion of the executive leadership team with key new hires, build upon the sales and marketing foundation, and accelerate platform innovation to maintain a leadership position as a cutting-edge mentorship platform for diverse talent acquisition and retention. The latest technology innovations include the addition of live events on the Mentor Spaces platform, called Sessions, where mentors discuss trending topics, workplace issues, and industry trends to a small group of community members. Future platform updates include additional integrations with leading technology providers to create a seamless end-to-end experience for all Mentor Spaces community members and customers.
Mentor Spaces' significant growth since launching less than a year ago has led to partnerships with some of the largest nonprofits supporting Black professionals, including the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA®) and INROADS. Mentor Spaces has already made an impact on NBMBAA® and INROADS members, with additional expansions ahead of the 2021 NBMBAA® Conference and Career Expo in September of this year. The company's unique approach to community-driven mentorship and considerable momentum has also resulted in the company being selected to the SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco Future of Work accelerator and inaugural Techstars Workforce Development accelerator programs.
To learn more about Mentor Spaces and join the Mentor Spaces community, visit: https://www.mentorspaces.com.