By Nancy Dahlberg
Mental health: It’s an issue that has gotten a lot of attention in the entrepreneurial world lately. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely place, and the events of the last year only exasperate that.
Michael Hall, founder of the nonprofit Digital Grass and a serial entrepreneur, knows this all too well. “But when you can share those experiences, not only do you realize other people are going through it too, but some of them have solutions you may not have thought of. Having a tribe you can rely on can help,” said Hall, pictured above.
So Digital Grass’s new project is called GROWTHerapy, a program that advances mental wellness, peer support and sense of community for local Black entrepreneurs. It is a continuation of what Hall has already been doing with Digital Grass in business building and business coaching. Digital Grass is dedicated to establishing a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Florida and provides training and services for minority and women-owned startups.
“With the turmoil of the social injustices and everything that happened with COVID, we decided this should become a priority,” Hall said. “Until you take care of traumas and all the things you have been through, it will always affect your success.”
Next month, Hall plans to open the first cohort of 10 Black startup founders or business owners. They will meet for six weeks, receiving an individual appointment with a licensed therapist weekly as well as participate in a virtual group session. It’s all free for the founders in the cohort, and it will end with a catered virtual dinner. It's hoped the cohort will continue to meet and support one another long after the program ends.
Digital Grass plans to hold five cohorts, helping 50 founders, and track metrics on how the program helped over time. His longterm goal is to expand the program to 50 more people and then expand to 20 more cities.
To help fund the new initiative, Digital Grass received $235,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Digital Grass is just one of four organizations receiving investments this week from Knight Foundation. The foundation said the four organizations, which received a combined $665,000, aim to create pathways that strengthen connections at a time when Miami’s startup community is rapidly growing and attracting founders and investors from across the U.S.
Here are the other three organizations that received Knight funding:
▪ Talent Scout ($240,000): a membership organization that connects talented individuals from diverse backgrounds with South Florida-based technology companies. The program, founded by Rebecca Danta of Miami Angels, is being spun off and will be incubated at Venture Café Miami.
▪ Hello Beautè ($140,000): a non-profit entrepreneur peer group led by Dani Spikes connecting female founders of color to community, capital and commerce.
▪ Refresh Miami ($50,000): The nonprofit tech community founded in 2006 will be rolling out a revamped website that will promote and facilitate community collaboration.
"Miami's startup community continues to grow and draw the attention of entrepreneurs, investors and exceptional talent from across the world," said Raul Moas, Knight’s Miami program director, in a statement. "We’re proud to support organizations that are placing founders at the center of our ecosystem and making it easier for all Miamians to participate in our tech economy."
Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter and email her at ndahlbergbiz#gmail.com