Grants & Programs

We’re putting together a list of organizations that offer initiatives that could help you on your path to success. If you know of others that would be useful for our community, please let us know at

VIP-X/San Francisco is an accelerator open to Penn and Wharton students and alumni entrepreneurs who are developing their own ventures. This in-person four-month program runs twice a year, in the fall and in the spring. The venture must have demonstrated, measurable traction and be based in the San Francisco/Bay Area during their time in VIP-X/San Francisco. 

WAFFA held a Q&A session about the program with Irina Yuen, Senior Director of Venture Lab, and Ali Krantzler, Associate Director at Venture Lab. If you are a founder/co-founder of a startup and looking for a program in San Francisco to accelerate your business, here’s a recording of that session so you can learn more about applying in the future.


Annual Penn Pitch Competition – The goal is to create equitable opportunities for underrepresented founders. Ventures compete for a chance to win up to $20k in cash prizes, educational programming, network and mentorship from top VCs. In 2023, the application deadline was 3/5.


The MBA Fund holds an annual Pitch Competition for student and alumni founders from Penn. Finalists pitch to top-tier VCs, who “vote with their money.” In 2022, more than $400K in cash was invested at Penn from VC judges including Switch, Contour, and more. In 2023, the deadine was 3/15 for the competition dated 4/7.

The prize money is structured as an uncapped SAFE with MFN or as a follow-on in the event that the company is currently raising and has a round open. On top of cash prizes, finalists will have an opportunity to network with top-tier VCs, receive feedback on their pitches, connect with alumni founders, and receive discounts on services from partnerss.


USA Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative – The USAWEC is a unique 5-month business leadership and management program run by the Center for Global Enterprise (CGE). Empowering women entrepreneurs, including those who have uneven access to high-quality learning, is a crucial component of CGE’s vision. The USAWEC blended-learning program equips a diverse cohort of 150 US-based female business owners with the skills needed to grow successful, resilient, and scalable businesses. (This got a thumbs up from a WAFFA member who participated).


Inclusive Venture Lab from Morgan Stanley – promotes financial inclusion and provides access to capital and connections for early-stage technology and technology-enabled companies led by underrepresented founders. Accepting applications.


FORWARD – An Accelerator Program for Black and Latino retail entrepreneurs by Square
This new program wants to help level the playing field and create a more inclusive and diverse retail industry, offering a $20k grant, practical skills training and exclusive access to mentors like Dwayne Wade and Rosario Dawson. Brought to you by Square in collaboration with Social Change Fund United1863™ Ventures, and American Express.

Applications are open through April 1
, 2023.


Gold Rush is Gold House Ventures’ accelerator for the most promising Asian & Pacific Islander (API)-led companies. Each spring and fall, 8-10 companies are selected to participate in a 12-week program, featuring $150K in seed funding via SAFE by Gold House Ventures, 1:1 advising, masterclasses, networking, a demo day, and an exclusive in-person celebration attended by VIP influencers and investors. Applicant Requirements include: At least one founder is of Asian or Pacific Islander descent; Company is based in the US; and Company has not raised a significant institutional round of funding

Hear directly from Tania Kottoor (CEO & Co-Founder of WEST X EAST) on how Gold Rush played a role in her entrepreneurial journey. 

Interested founders can learn more & apply at reach out to Oscar Wong (WG’21) with any questions. 


Fearless Fund + Mastercard – Fearless Fund and Mastercard are partnering to launch a grant contest aimed at helping Women of Color business owners in cities across the U.S. with the needed funding and digital resources to build and bolster their businesses. The Fearless Foundation is a 501c3 organization where the primary objective is to increase entrepreneurial education through training, and empowerment that will lead African Americans to gain access to capita.


BK-XL is an early-stage startup accelerator program focused on BIPOC founders and based in Brooklyn. The accelerator is a partnership between the Social Justice Fund and Visible Hands. The ten-week accelerator will provide BIPOC founders with access to early-stage venture financing on best-in-class terms while providing office space and ongoing mentorship / support from investors and operators at Blue Pool Capital, Visible Hands, BSE Global, the Brooklyn Nets, Barclays Center, and other partnering organizations. Up to $500k/company.


Hyper describes themselves as a radically different accelerator. They work with founders who have started building a product and are focused on distribution and hiring. They pair you with unicorn founders for four weeks who become your mentors and help you rethink growth and product. They work with up to 25 companies at a time.


PearX is an early-stage bootcamp for founders with high-potential ideas. They lead small-cohort 14 week programs. Their track record – in just 9 years, they’ve seeded 7 companies currently valued over $1B and 3 public companies.

Pear VC Startup Competition – “We’re seeking dedicated entrepreneurs with big ambitions. Winning teams will receive between $25k – $100K via a SAFE note (uncapped, no discount).”  The Pear team has previously built 10 companies and Pear has partnered early with startups now worth over $50 Billion, including Doordash, Guardant Health, Affinity, Branch Metrics, Aurora Solar, and Gusto. 

Competition deadline is 3/29/23. Apply at:  (Early applicants gain priority over limited interview spots)