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Find out how our unique program helps cleantech startups bridge the “valley of death.

Social Equity

The CalSEED program guides, educates, and supports entrepreneurs in building social equity into their innovations and companies.

Utilizing Equity

Cleanteach innovation has the immense potential to expand health and wealth, especially in low-income communities of color, which often experience disproportionate levels of air pollution due to historic disinvestment. They also pay a larger share of their income for energy costs. We need your innovations to help make the promise of social equity real in the next phase of California’s clean energy economy.

We provide training using our unique framework, as well as skill sharing and coaching to CalSEED entrepreneurs to help them center equity into their companies and their innovations. We are committed to creating a clean energy future that reduces barriers to accessing clean energy technologies, and that advances economic opportunities for Californians that have been historically marginalized including people of color, low-income communities, women, indigenous people, and LGBTQIA+ communities.


In funding for Women led startups


Awarded to Projects in Disadvantaged Communities in California


Companies with women and/or minorities in C-suite positions

What Social Equity Means for CalSEED

Social equity in the clean tech field means increasing access to funding opportunities, technical assistance, and outreach support for historically marginalized populations. Achieving equity requires eliminating barriers to accessing the economic, health, and environmental benefits of clean energy innovation for people of color, low-income communities, women, indigenous people, and LGBTQIA+ communities.

More specifically, for CalSEED, this means:

  • Prioritizing solutions that directly include and work with disadvantaged communities, which are predominantly low-income communities of color.
  • CalEnviroScreen is a state-developed mapping tool that is used to identify disadvantaged communities in California that experience the greatest poverty and pollution burden. It uses environmental, health, and socioeconomic indicators to produce scores for every census tract in the state. Disadvantaged communities are statutorily defined as the top 25% scoring census tracts from CalEnviroScreen.
  • Eliminating barriers to entry for entities such as non-profits or entrepreneurs without existing connections to capital, and offering training so that they can fully benefit from seed funding and professional development opportunities through CalSEED.

Our Framework

Equity-in: CalSEED is an opportunity to support people who have incredible clean energy ideas for innovation – but maybe lack advanced degrees or significant experience in the tech world – to apply for funding and transform their ideas into reality. We welcome diverse communities across California to fully participate in the development and implementation of clean energy solutions through inclusive outreach to encourage applicants from small, woman-owned and diverse-owned businesses as well as from underserved, low-income, communities of color, LGBTQAI+, rural and veteran communities.

Equity-out: Disadvantaged communities need clean energy investments that create healthier environments and reduce the cost of basic necessities.

We support and coach entrepreneurs to:

  • Develop innovations that can improve environmental, health and economic conditions in disadvantaged communities
  • Promote diversity, equity and inclusion practices into their growing companies and teams, and
  • Encourage early-on relationship-building and partnership with community based organizations and inclusive businesses.

Examples of Our Equity-Out Strategy Include:

  • Providing support and resources to entrepreneurs on meaningful community engagement, partnerships, and job creation plans with underserved and low-income communities throughout the development of their innovation.
  • Prioritizing clean energy and/or sustainability needs that improve health and wealth in California disadvantaged communities (e.g. community-owned and operated energy projects; low-cost energy efficiency programs in low-income communities)
  • Targeting air pollution reduction in underserved and heavily polluted communities.
  • Deploying innovations in a disadvantaged community and/or low-income community.
  • Improving the resiliency and reliability of electricity service for disadvantaged communities impacted disproportionately by extreme weather-related events such as heat waves, wildfires, droughts, and winter storms.


—Kevin Kung, Founder and CTO, Takachar
"CalSEED has been instrumental in advancing our marketing and technical goals in California, and in doing so, discovering new partners through its networks and events.”
——Kevin Kung, Founder and CTO, Takachar

Awardee Directory

CalSEED provides Concept Awards to promising innovators, awarding them $150,000 in grant funding, unprecedented professional development resources, and access to the best accelerator and incubator programs in California. Concept Award winners are also eligible to compete for a $450,000 Prototype Award in the annual Business Plan Competition. These small funding awards, along with support services, provide a launch pad to help entrepreneurs succeed in their clean energy ventures.

Learn more 

Know before you apply

If CalSEED funding seems right for you, check out the contractual terms and conditions. Reading them is not only in your best interest but will provide you with important information on what is required of you by signing this contract. Seriously, go read it. Don’t apply before reading!

Terms & Conditions

Applications for CalSEED’s 2021 Cohort are now closed. Sign up for our mailing list to get important updates about when our application will be open.

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