American Public Media Group Supports Launch of Lunar Startups as an Independent Nonprofit to Build a More Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Nov 12, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn., Nov. 12, 2020 — American Public Media Group (APMG) today announced that Lunar Startups, a program of the organization’s Glen Nelson Center, is launching as an independent nonprofit with a mission to create a more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem. Thanks to support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, APMG’s Glen Nelson Center served as Lunar Startups’ program incubator for the past three years, making it possible for Lunar to now scale its impact as an independent entity.

Lunar was the first new business launched by the Glen Nelson Center, a philanthropy-backed innovation center that accelerates and invests in startup media ventures with a strong commitment to racial and gender equity. Opened in 2018, Glen Nelson Center is named in memory of Dr. Glen Nelson, a longtime supporter, board member, and board chair at Minnesota Public Radio and APMG who passed away in 2016.

“Lunar Startups is doing extraordinary and important work,” said Jon McTaggart, president and CEO, APMG. “We are thrilled Lunar is ready to grow the vital service it plays in our startup ecosystem, and we are grateful for the generous support of the Knight Foundation.”

Startups that graduate from accelerator programs have an estimated 23% higher survival rate than other new businesses, but women and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs participate in these programs at exceptionally low rates.

“The traditional accelerator playbook doesn’t work for the majority of entrepreneurs,”  says Lunar Startups Executive Director Danielle Steer. “We built Lunar with CEOs who identify as BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ so that we could meet their unique needs, providing substantive value, not performative support.”

The Lunar programming provides a holistic system of resources, capital, peer networks, and professional connections that clarify a pathway to scale. Lunar Startups’ philosophy is grounded in the belief that scaled-up, inclusive entrepreneurship is the most important strategy to build community wealth, mitigate race- and gender-based economic gaps, and increase the number of high-quality jobs available for marginalized professionals in the Twin Cities region and beyond.

Lunar Startups is kicking off an ambitious, three-year campaign that is foundational to its launch, with a goal to raise $2 million by the end of 2023. To date, Lunar Startups has raised $65,000 with the goal of raising $100,000 by the end of 2020.

In three years, Lunar Startups’ first 32 cohort companies have created 56 high-quality jobs, engaged 180 contractors, raised $2.8 million in capital and generated $7.8 million in revenue.

Steer says this is just the beginning. "Our economy needs entrepreneurs now more than ever to recover from the numerous crises of 2020. We know that elevating entrepreneurs in whom we have historically underinvested will be critical to our success as a community," she said.

On the heels of an unprecedented election and in the midst of a global pandemic and social reckoning, Lunar Startups is creating real traction and change, driven by the recognition that society must invest in the future of emerging entrepreneurial businesses if the country is to rebound successfully from COVID-19. To create lasting racial and gender equity, Lunar Startups is seeking support from individuals and companies who want to support underinvested businesses and BIPOC, women and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.