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Raynier Seed Fund

Supporting minority entrepreneurship in Philadelphia

Vital Start at Venture Cafe
Vital Start Health founder at Venture Café


The Raynier Institute & Foundation, a Seattle-based philanthropic organization with Philadelphia roots partnered with Drexel University and the Science Center to improve access to capital for minority entrepreneurs through a seed fund.

The Fund will invest $25,000 per startup, in up to four startups per cohort, and up to three cohorts per year until all funds are exhausted. Returns into the evergreen fund, if any, may extend the life of the fund.

The Fund is intended as a step toward addressing persistent inequality in minority business ownership by providing access to funds, guidance, and networks early in the entrepreneurship process. A recent study by a pair of venture capital rating groups suggests that while the disparity in start-up funding has been improving, the fact remains that over the last five years, less than a quarter of new businesses have been started by minority entrepreneurs.

Who is this program for?

Who Can Apply

Qualified applicants to the program are defined as “Underserved Founders” using the National Institute of Health Diversity definition.

Additional criteria includes:

The applicant should be a for-profit C corporation (see additional note below regarding LLC’s) headquartered or willing to work/operate within the 11-county Greater Philadelphia region.

View cities in the region.

Startup or early-stage company that has not progressed beyond an early seed round of funding.

Experienced team with at least one member of management working full time.

Product or service does not violate any local, state, or national law.

Organizing Committee

A three-person organizing committee, consisting of representatives from the Science Center, the Close School and Drexel’s Office of Research & Innovation evaluates applicants seeking capital and connects them to entrepreneurial support resources.

The selection process utilizes a combination of the committee’s expertise, supplemented by key community members with a history of cultivating and supporting minority entrepreneurs. The investments are managed by Drexel, with all returns to be reinvested in the fund.

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