Nine projects to forge greater connection between Miami startup founders, open new pathways for talent and capital with more than $1 million from Knight Foundation

MIAMI—May 1, 2019—The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced more than $1 million in new funding for nine projects aimed at building deeper connections between local startup founders, investors and high-potential talent, while opening avenues for new talent and investors to participate in Miami’s growing innovation community.

From a series of curated, intimate social gatherings that bring together newcomers and Miami startup veterans as a way to foster stronger networks, to a fellowship program that provides top-performing local university engineering students with professional development and venture opportunities, to an angel network that aims to open new investment prospects to rising entrepreneurs, the projects focus on supporting and propelling Miami’s innovation ecosystem. They also work to create a greater sense of community amongst startup founders, as well as top talent and funders.

“Local connectedness amongst founders, investors and high-performing talent is a major driver of successful startup communities,” said Raul Moas, Knight Foundation program director for Miami. “Through these projects, we hope to forge a deliberate path to growth for Miami’s startups, the impact of which will reap wider benefits for our city as a whole.”

The projects receiving support include: 

University of Miami ($250,000): To provide Miami’s startups with greater access to capital by supporting the launch of the Cane Angel Network, which will connect alumni, faculty, staff, parent and other university-affiliated investors with promising university-affiliated companies.

Venture for America ($150,000): To help foster the growth of Venture For America’s Miami program, which places rigorously-selected recent university graduates at high-growth companies for a two-year fellowship. Funding will support the hiring of a dedicated Miami Director.

The Venture Mentoring Team ($150,000): To expand a mentorship program that educates, certifies and credentials seasoned business professionals and connects them with talented rising entrepreneurs to hone their potential.

eMerge Americas ($120,000): To advance the year-long eMerge Americas Fellowship, which invests in the professional development of top-performing local university engineering students and introduces them to opportunities at top-tier Miami-based ventures.

Just Dinner ($114,000): To support a series of curated, intimate gatherings that bring together newcomers and veterans of Miami’s startup community as a way to promote greater connection, a deeper sense of community and stronger social networks. 

Creators Council ($106,000): To launch a member-led, peer-sharing and mentorship platform that aims to create a sense of community among founders and high-impact talent by growing the depth and quality of relationships among peers.

American Jewish Committee ($92,000): To foster deeper relationships and opportunities between Miami entrepreneurs and their Israeli peers by introducing a delegation of Miami entrepreneurs to key drivers of Israeli innovation, including decision-makers, entrepreneurs and investors. Miami entrepreneurs will travel to Israel as part of the globally-recognized AJC Project Interchange.

Las Olas VC ($25,000): To help launch the LOVC CEO Summit Series allowing local startup founders and CEOs to connect with their peers and build meaningful relationships. 

Miami Angels ($20,000): To make talent and opportunity more easily discoverable by supporting the launch of Talent Scout Miami, a curated platform that helps Miami’s most promising startups find and recruit top talent.

Support for these projects is part of Knight Foundation’s effort to accelerate the development of a startup culture, open to the entire community, that helps make Miami a place where ideas are built and ventures are scaled. Over the past five years, Knight has invested more than $30 million in entrepreneurship in South Florida.

Learn more about this announcement in a blog post by Knight’s Miami Program Director Raul Moas. 

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit


Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, [email protected]

Image (top): Illustration by Saskia Rasink, titled “Compass real estate agents Miami illustration,” found on Behance; copyright: attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), no manipulations.