AmFam invests in 12 social impact startups over the last year

Coins stacked

Madison-based American Family Insurance has backed 12 startups across the country over the last year through its institute that focuses on social good.

The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact recently completed its first full year of venture capital investing with more than $11 million invested in startups, the insurance company recently announced.

The fund specifically backs startups working to build resilient communities, provide economic opportunities, promote healthy youth development and increase academic achievement.

“The institute makes investments to help close equity gaps in our communities by funding mission-driven startups across America,” the institute’s social investment fund managing director John McIntyre said in a statement. “We now have a portfolio of 12 companies that are working to change the world. We’re inspired by the efforts of these entrepreneurs and look forward to engaging with many more in the years to come.”

American Family also has a separate corporate venture arm, which typically invests $250,000 to $5 million in startups from seed rounds to Series B rounds.

Here’s a list of the companies in the institute’s portfolio:

Solstice is a Massachusetts-based community solar company with a goal to make solar energy available to every American regardless of where people live as there are no upfront costs and people do not need to have their own rooftops.

Manatee, based in Denver, operates a digital app that allows parents and children to engage with goals set by their therapists at hospitals and community mental health centers nationwide to track and improve progress between appointments. Early clients have included Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Children’s Hospital Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Biobot is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company seeking to transform wastewater into public health observatories. It was founded at MIT by a biologist and an architect with the belief that sewage offers a unique opportunity to make public health more data-driven and effective. The company has attracted significant national attention for its work detecting COVID-19 in sewage around the country and helping public officials make better decisions about how to keep their residents safer.

BlocPower is a Brooklyn, New York-based company that offers its proprietary software for analysis, leasing, project management, and monitoring of urban clean energy projects in the core of metropolitan areas in the United States. These are offered in partnership with state and municipal governments that have legal mandates to reduce emissions. BlocPower believes it can reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2-3% in the next five years.

Booknook is an Oakland, California-based education technology company whose goal is to ensure every child has access to a world-class reading teacher. It offers a platform for K-8 students to accelerate their reading skills in English and Spanish as research shows deficient literacy is correlated with high rates of school dropout, poverty and underemployment impacting more than 6 out of 10 American fourth graders not reading at grade level. For low-income students in high-poverty schools, that number jumps to 8 in 10 students reading below grade level.

Edquity is a Brooklyn-based student financial success and emergency aid company that believes money should not be the reason people don’t graduate from college. Edquity uses evidence-based technology to distribute emergency aid to the college students who need it most, reducing drop-out rates and improving academic achievement.

One Concer is a Palo Alto, California-based benevolent artificial intelligence company with a mission to save lives and livelihoods before, during, and after natural disasters. It’s built a platform enabling communities and companies to identify, quantify and manage their risk to natural disasters.

Paladin is a Chicago-based justice technology company that streamlines communication about pro bono opportunities with law firms, increasing the capacity of legal service organizations to serve more individuals in their community. The company envisions a world where everyone has access to legal and other vital services. Current statistics show more than 80% of people in America who need legal help don’t get it, even as corporate law firms and other lawyers complete five million hours on pro bono work. Paladin’s platform streamlines the process of connecting those in need of help with those who have the skills to help.

Pigeonly is a Las Vegas-based company that offers a low-cost communication platform that makes it easy for people to support and connect with an incarcerated loved one. Its mission is to improve communities by building products that reduce the destructive impact of incarceration. In addition to providing low-cost jail calls, the platform makes it easy for families and their incarcerated relatives to share photos, letters, and more electronically.

Stormsensor is a Seattle-based company that develops sensors, software and analytics to monitor water in sewer systems and prevent urban flooding. It provides a cloud-based stormwater monitoring platform designed to offer real-time data and insights to track how stormwater is flowing through systems including municipal sewers, private sewers, and commercial sites. StormSensor works with major cities to identify where sewers overflow to prevent urban flooding.

Vincere Health is a Boston-based company with a mobile-based technology platform to assist people in their efforts to stop smoking. It offers an incentive-based smoking cessation program that over time aspires to be a platform that addresses the full range of known problems and behaviors associated with chronic cardiovascular disease (e.g. obesity, lack of medication adherence, limited exercise and fitness).

X2ai is a San Francisco-based company that focuses on the development of artificial intelligence-based coaches to provide mental health support, self-care/burnout prevention and professional coaching through texting on your cell phone. Its mission is to provide affordable, quality mental health care, regardless of income or location and the company has given numerous people access to care for the first time in their lives.

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Brandon Anderegg
Brandon covers startups, technology, banking and finance. He previously worked as a general assignment and court reporter for The Freeman in Waukesha. Brandon graduated from UW-Milwaukee’s journalism, advertising and media studies program with an emphasis in journalism. He enjoys live music, playing guitar and loves to hacky sack.

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