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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Venture capital last summer began finally reckoning with its lack of Black investors, as part of the country's broader conversation on racial inequities.

The big picture: The relative handful of existing Black venture capitalists were deluged with recruiting calls from brand-name firms, both to poach and to solicit introductions. But many felt there was a pipeline problem.

  • Not a lack of qualified Black candidates, but too few Black professionals in traditional feeder industries (tech, banking, etc.) who viewed VC as a viable career path, or who had venture capitalists in their personal networks.

A group called BLCK VC, in partnership with Anthemis and Lerer Hippeau, responded by creating what it called the NYC Path Program, described as an "on-road for Black professionals to discover jobs in venture capital."

  • More than 300 applications came in, with 21 selected for the debut cohort.
  • The eight-week program launched last October. On Thursday nights, a VC firm partner like Rebecca Kaden of USV or Nikhil Sachdev of Insight Partners would gave an overview of a different topic, such as early-stage due diligence vs. later-stage due diligence or post-investment responsibilities. Then, on Fridays, participants split into smaller groups with their mentor, typically a VC firm principal or senior associate.
  • Jillian Williams, a principal with Anthemis, says that many participants were surprised by how early-stage investing is much more qualitative than quantitative.
  • The program then created a "look book" to show firms that came calling for candidates, as the majority of participants came away with interest in the industry (some, of course, decided it wasn't for them).

What next: BLCK VC is in the process of determining how the program will evolve.

  • Expectations are to host the program twice per year in New York, once in the spring and once in the fall, with broader geographic roll-0ut still being discussed.
  • Cohorts will be kept small so that individuals can more effectively engage with VCs and each other. She adds that

The bottom line: The first step toward rectifying a problem is recognizing that there is a problem. Much of venture capital seems to have done so. The second step is launching and encouraging efforts like the Path Program, so that the industry doesn't backslide, once the socio-political spotlight dims.

Go deeper

Black residents in Tampa Bay face big COVID vaccine disparities

James Bryant, left, and his wife Eunice register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at St. Johns Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa earlier this month. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Tampa Bay's vaccination rate for Black residents is startlingly low.

By the numbers: Of the 54,725 people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine in Sarasota-Manatee, only 812 are Black.

42 mins ago - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.