On Deck Access Initiative: 2021 End of Year Report

As we close out 2021, we want to share how the incredible generosity of the On Deck community created access for Fellows from around the world.

 min read
December 19, 2021
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In our Series A memo earlier this year, we talked about the meta-flywheel: for every person founding or working on an impactful cause today, there are hundreds more who could be, but lack the resources to take their first step.

At On Deck, we want to ensure that financial barriers don’t prevent high-potential operators and founders from reaching their goals. That’s why we started the Access Initiative, a $1,000,000+ program supported by donations from the On Deck community. 

As we close out 2021, we want to share how that incredible generosity has created access for Fellows from around the world.

2021 Access Initiative Results:

  • Awarded 1,100 scholarships, totaling nearly $1.4M in funding
  • Scholarships enabled an additional 600+ female operators and founders to join our programs
  • We expanded our global reach by also enabling 400+ international Fellows
  • Raised more than $1,000,000 in funding from the On Deck Fellow community
  • Met the match requirement to trigger an additional $1,000,000 in funding from On Deck for 2021
  • Launched ODF Advance, growing beyond the original Access (scholarship) Fund to become the Access Initiative

The foundation for these results dates back to the very beginning of On Deck. 

In 2020, Fellows who had previously received financial aid came back to us wanting to pay it forward with a donation to support the next Fellow facing financial barriers. Those donations helped launch the original Access Fund: 

Powering the Whole

Not only do scholarships and the ODF Advance program support On Deck Fellows individually, these initiatives also benefit the entire On Deck network.

More talent in our programs means:

  • More value and experiences to draw on in Mastermind groups
  • More introductions to new customers and global networks
  • More possible matches if you're looking for a co-founder or an early hire
  • More opportunity to form life-long relationships with friends, colleagues, co-founders, investors, and more.

Networks become transformational when they do more than signal status, and instead become support systems: helping people solve problems both big and small, personal and professional, when they are a source of inspiration and connection, and when they surface just the right connection or idea at just the right time.

Stories of Impact

You can get a taste for our community in the stories of Fellows like Saamra Mekurio-Grillo, Cara Whitehill, and Jeevahan Murugesu.  We’re excited to share more stories soon. 

What’s Next

Looking ahead to 2022, we want to expand the reach of the Access Initiative. 

So far, we’ve used the Access Initiative to provide scholarships to Fellows.

Next year, we hope to reach underrepresented, under-resourced, and non-traditional communities of aspiring entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurship is one of the most powerful ways ambitious people can change the world.

Let’s work together to ensure that financial hardship is never a barrier to innovation. 

Join us

It's the time of year when many are making financial donations to causes they care about. We'd be honored if the Access Initiative made your list. All donations go to a non-profit foundation partner, enabled by Overflow, a company founded by Vance Roush (ODF2) and Kyle Woumn (ODF3). Donations are tax deductible for residents of the United States.

Finally, as you meet inspiring entrepreneurs, encourage them to apply to On Deck. If they are worried about their current financial situation, tell them about the Access Initiative and the help it has already provided to more than 1,000 On Deck Fellows.

We want them to join a program and build the future with us!

If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please email us at

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