Robin Hood Annual Report 2023



New Yorkers. We worked with four Catalyst participants this year. Their technologies range from helping people purchase fresh food at the farmers market to paying off debt. Each year, successful Catalyst alumni are eligible for further investment through the Follow-on Fund. In 2023, this fund provided three alumni with $250,000 in investments or grants to grow their impact. Foundational to all these efforts is the work of the Design Insight Group (DIG), a community of more than 2,000 New Yorkers for whom poverty is a lived experience and who participate in co-designing and informing the development of these ventures.

Blue Ridge Labs runs an 18-week Fellowship Program and each year they work on an annual challenge to address poverty. This year, we welcomed 16 local innovators who responded to our 2023 challenge: Building Healthy Futures for Children in New York City . As part of this program, the fellows launched five new ventures. Their innovations give the youngest New Yorkers a fair shot at opportunity. We also run a Catalyst Program. It is a five-month bespoke training that offers $60,000 in funding, health insurance, and in-kind resources to participants whose ventures address the extraordinary challenges faced by low-income

Spotlight on Lulo Blue Ridge Labs Fellowship

Spotlight on Starlight 2023 Catalyst Participant

In an increasingly digital world, tech-based solutions are key tools to address real-world challenges, like poverty. Blue Ridge Labs is Robin Hood’s poverty-fighting innovation lab, focused on supporting, incubating, and scaling community-driven tech solutions that alleviate the obstacles of New Yorkers experiencing poverty.

Starlight is a Catalyst venture that helps low-income households stay connected to the internet without financial worry. Internet access is vital in the post-pandemic world. Starlight helps households advocate for their needs with providers and streamlines the process of applying for and applying and qualifying for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal benefit. Through partnerships with fintechs and nonprofits, Starlight has saved households an average of $1,400 a year. Saving money on internet bills not only helps house- holds dedicate money to other needs but increases the likelihood they will stay current on internet bills and maintain connectivity — longer term, this leads to reduced debt and better workplace and education outcomes. After the Catalyst program, Starlight went on to raise a $1.7 million in a pre-seed round of venture capital funding led by Looking Glass Capital and Outside VC.

Lulo is a Blue Ridge Labs fellowship venture that provides grocery pickup service for participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. By removing barriers to shopping using food benefits, Lulo aims to further reduce food insecurity and improve health for birthing people, infants, and children. The existing state of the WIC program is highly restrictive and confusing. Participants report spending hours in the store looking for eligible brands, sizes, and flavors only to find out at the register that they have made a mistake. The hassle and stigma associated with WIC shopping, coupled with program inefficiencies, has resulted in $1.6 billion of food benefits going unredeemed each year. With Lulo, families order their groceries online, and then Lulo matches their preferences with eligible items. Participants just need to show up at the store and swipe their eWIC cards, receiving their groceries in a way that respects their time and dignity.


SIX new poverty-fighting technology ventures launched

$1.5M invested in nine poverty-fighting technology ventures

THREE new follow-on fund investments in Blue Ridge Labs alumni

450+ hours of community engagement sessions with DIG members

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