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June 5, 2020

Our Pledge to Take Action

The following message was shared with our employees and portfolio companies:

We are writing to you today in the spirit of compassion and solidarity during this national time of reflection and uprising against racism. Our goal is to connect with you directly and share how we plan to help.

This weekend, we connected to determine how we could provide support. We acknowledge that we can do better, as an organization, as an industry, as leaders and as a society. Importantly, we feel we are in a position to make a difference. Over time, we hope to work together to address foundational issues and to better serve our community with respect, acceptance and inclusion.

What are we committing to now?

  • To listen and educate ourselves.
  • To speak the truth.
  • To not be silent.
  • To each take personal responsibility to look for opportunities to effect change.
  • To expand our community beyond what is familiar and comfortable.
  • To create a safe space for open discussions.
  • To review our hiring plan and double down on our efforts to ensure we have a diverse pool of candidates in our hiring pipeline.
  • To find and commit to programs and partnerships that will bring more people of color into our investment pipeline.
  • To actively support diversity and inclusion in our portfolio with committed resources.

This requires us to take a hard look at these systems, and see how we, as an organization, participate in them. We encourage all of our portfolio companies to continue having these same conversations.

In addition, Norwest commits to making immediate donations as part of an ongoing effort to make what difference we can to improve conditions and outcomes for our community. We have researched a number of organizations at various levels of impact, with the goal of finding organizations that directly impact people of color within education and entrepreneurship, especially in the Bay Area.

With that in mind, Norwest will be contributing directly to the organizations below:

  • Eastside College Prep (East Palo Alto) Eastside College Preparatory School is committed to opening new doors for students historically underrepresented in higher education. Eastside’s priority is to admit students who will be the first in their families to go to college.
    (Sponsoring a student four years – tuition for a student from entry through graduation)
  • (SFSU) College Scholarships (San Francisco) The College of Science and Engineering’s Student Enrichment Opportunities Office (SEO) provides academic support, financial aid, and stimulating research experience in STEM fields to students from underrepresented groups. SEO provides funding & support to students interested in pursuing advanced study and careers in the field of biomedical science.
  • Boys and Girls Club (Peninsula) The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula is the largest youth-serving nonprofit in the Peninsula with a mission to provide the low-income youth of our community with the opportunities they need to achieve school success. The organization serves 2,500 youth K-12th through a heavily structured academic-focused after-school and summer program and is located across three cities: East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Redwood City with a total of 13 sites.
  • Beyond 12 (Oakland) Beyond 12 is a high-impact organization based in the East Bay that works with low-income students of color in high school and thereafter to prepare them for college and help them succeed in college. Beyond 12’s mission is to dramatically increase the number of low-income, first-generation, and historically underrepresented students who graduate from college.
  • Hidden Genius Project (Oakland) The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities.

Many of these local organizations offer volunteer opportunities (such as tutoring and collaborating with students). We are also communicating these opportunities to our employees and their families, and encouraging them to get involved if they would like to donate their time.

As a firm, we continue to prioritize diversity and our goal is to unite as a firm and make a difference. We thank you for your support, and we are happy to have further discussions on these critical topics.

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