On December 13, 2023, NWLC joined an amicus brief led by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in the Eleventh Circuit. This case involves a challenge by an Ed Blum-backed organization to the Fearless Foundation’s Fearless Strivers Grant program, whose “mission is to bridge the gap in venture capital funding for women of color founders.” The program awards $20,000 grants to small businesses owned by Black women who, despite their skills and promising businesses, struggle to obtain funding in the U.S. venture capital market. In fact, as the brief explains, Black women receive less than 0.35% of all venture capital funding; and Black business owners are more likely than white business owners to get less than the full amount of credit they request from financial institutions. Ed Blum’s group is trying to stop Fearless—or anyone—from improving this situation by arguing that this grant program violates a civil rights law known as Section 1981’s prohibition on racial discrimination.

Our brief argues that Congress enacted Section 1981 as a remedial measure during the Reconstruction era to secure the rights of newly emancipated Black citizens who historically had been, and were being, deprived of the rights to make and enforce economic contracts. Therefore, this challenge to the Fearless Strivers Grant program, a philanthropic, remedial program that awards grants to Black women-owned small businesses that have been disadvantaged in their ability to obtain funding, is contrary to Section 1981’s congressional purpose and intent and should not succeed.