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$15.8M raised for what aims to be Baltimore’s largest minority-managed fund

Jeff Cherry is the founder and managing partner of Conscious Venture Partners. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Baltimore-based firm Conscious Venture Partners announced today that it has raised just over 30% of its funding goal for a new fund that will invest in Baltimore’s women- and minority-owned businesses.  

The fund, known as the Conscious Venture Fund II, has raised $15.8 million with the ultimate goal of reaching $50 million. It is on track to becoming the largest minority-managed fund in the City of Baltimore, according to a Tuesday news release.  

The initiative’s lead local investor is Sagamore Ventures, the investment arm of Kevin Plank, Under Armour’s founder, which has committed $2.5 million to the fund.  

“(Conscious Venture Partners Founder and Managing Partner) Jeff Cherry and Conscious Venture Partners share our commitment to creating a positive impact in Port Covington — and all of Baltimore. The Conscious Venture Partners team has a proven track record of identifying and supporting diverse and innovative Baltimore entrepreneurs, which is critical to the future of the city,” Plank said. 

Other local investors in the fund include Point Field Partners, the investment arm of Steve Bisciotti, owner of the Baltimore Ravens; Brown Advisory; Capital Funding Group; Robb Merritt; Mary Miller; and Guy Filippelli. The fund has also received some contributions from out of state, including $5 million from a pension fund based in California, UFCW – Northern California Employers Joint Pension Plan. 

“We believe that Conscious Venture Partner’s approach to entrepreneurship is forward-thinking and fantastic for our community,” Michael Hankin, CEO of Brown Advisory, said in the announcement. “We are proud to partner with Jeff and his great team and hope that, together, we can help support emerging businesses in Baltimore, as well as the broader start-up ecosystem.” 

Conscious Venture Partners primarily invests in companies that have passed through its Conscious Venture Labs startup accelerator program. Past cohorts included companies that have gone on to find success in Baltimore and beyond, including Fearless Sports, an offshoot of Baltimore software company Fearless. 

Ultimately, the firm aims to invest in women- and minority-owned businesses that are using technology to “create a more equitable society, including in the health care, food, technology, media, mobility, and education industries,” according to the release. 

“Despite the amazing talent and technology we have in the U.S. and specifically here in Baltimore, new innovations for things like the delivery of preventative care, better mental health outcomes, access to technology and healthy food and predictive analytics for under-served communities are clearly needed if we are to continue the standard of living — and give all our citizens access to such – that we so dearly appreciate and enjoy in America,” Cherry said in the announcement. “COVID has shown us how much work we have to do to create a more equitable society and economic system.”