Fall-Winter 2023
Project Location
Berkeley, CA
Project Type
Fast track
Project Focus
Marketing & Communications
Organization Type
Community or Economic Development


Colorwave was officially founded in November 2020 to broaden access to opportunities for underrepresented leaders in America’s venture-backed startup ecosystem with its founding Board committed to building a thriving community and movement toward greater racial equity across the innovation economy. Its first and flagship program launched was the Colorwave Fellowship, which is a free, virtual, nine-week program for underrepresented professionals that helps participants better understand how the venture-backed startup sector works (through weekly classes and industry leader speaker events) and connects them to full-time opportunities at high-growth companies across the industry. During and after the program, the fellows also receive one-on-one career coaching, in-depth resume and LinkedIn profile reviews, opportunities to connect directly with companies through its industry network, and salary negotiation workshops and support. Since launching its first fellowship cohort in January 2021 and managing five additional cohorts, Colorwave has served nearly 400 participants across over 70 different cities, 30 states, and four continents. One hundred percent of participants recommend its fellowship program, which has led to increased applicant interest through referrals and Colorwave’s seventh cohort starting this fall. Over 135 of its participants have transitioned into new roles across the innovation economy, experiencing an average $50K increase in total compensation and often receiving stock equity that they did not have in previous roles. In 2022, Colorwave launched a supplementary accelerator program for its fellowship alumni who are early-stage entrepreneurs. Five alumni participated in this pilot program with two receiving access to angel or pre-seed funding and validation to continue into other larger accelerator and investment programs.


What is the optimal messaging strategy for Colorwave to secure significant, more consistent funding from larger philanthropic foundations and donors to increase representation of leaders of color in the venture-backed startup sector?


Colorwave seeks to grow significantly through fellowship expansion and additional programming. Its goal is to increase revenue by ~45% in 2023 (primarily through fundraising) to help build capacity to reach more individuals. It is focused on expanding its traditional investment and company sponsorship partners while also looking to secure an anchor foundation supporter and large individual donor support. Talent placement is also a strategic priority for the organization. Given the current labor market in tech and beyond, Colorwave is increasing its efforts and capacity to provide 1:1 support in helping participants locate their next role within or outside of its company network. Reaching certain placement targets is critical to not only helping Colorwave achieve its mission but also in proving its model and conveying a compelling narrative to prospective partners, sponsors, and donors.

Project Overview

As Colorwave strives to obtain funding support beyond its current corporate sponsors, it is seeking from ACT an assessment of and strategy for its messaging to sponsors and philanthropists. The team will develop an overarching, compelling, forward-looking narrative along with tailored communication to the different target funder segments, which will play a pivotal role in the organization attaining its growth goals and mission impact in the wealth-creation, start-up sector.


This is a Fast Track project:

  • Scope: Focused, specific organizational issue
  • Team Size: 2-3 consultants
  • Project Duration: 3 months
  • Estimated Time Contribution: 25-30 hrs total (per consultant)

Read more about the Fast Track Project Consultant role.