Communication Service for the Deaf Launches Round Two of First-Ever Venture Fund for Deaf Businesses

Applications Open October 4; Fund Addresses Employment, Leadership for Deaf Community

New York (September 27, 2018) – Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) announced today the Series 2 launch of its Social Venture Fund(CSD SVF), the first-ever social impact fund and incubator for Deaf-owned and operated businesses in the United States. Building on the success of the Fund’s inaugural year in 2017, round two applications open to new candidates on October 4, 2018. Those businesses ultimately selected will have access to significant resources, including capital investment, mentoring and leadership training.

CSD created this multi-million dollar fund in 2017 to help address the 70% unemployment and underemployment rate among Deaf Americans. The Series 1 Fund recipients are MozzeriaDeafTax, and reFort, all in varying business stages. CSD is the world’s largest nonprofit dedicated to inspiring and cultivating greater opportunity for millions of Deaf people worldwide.

For Series 2, the CSD SVF will look to support new business ideas, nascent startups or businesses just getting a foothold in their industry and mature businesses looking to expand or scale their offerings or operations. New for Series 2, the CSD SVF is expanding to include media productions, which will be accepted in applications in the form of either a script or treatment.

CSD CEO Christopher Soukup says, “the purpose of our Social Venture Fund is clear. We are addressing the unacceptable unemployment rates among the Deaf community that are so inextricably linked to society’s biases about who Deaf people are and what they are capable of achieving. Creating and supporting more Deaf-owned businesses ventures is critical for societal change for our community. These businesses are far more likely to see the value in and hire Deaf employees.”

The CSD SVF is led entirely by Deaf executives with firsthand knowledge and expertise on Deaf community concerns, who are positioned to advise on matters of business, finance, public relations, marketing, legal, technology, and design, and make up a core center of support for the incubator program.

CSD’s Chief Innovation Officer Dominic Lacy, who leads the CSD SVF, said that “it has been tremendously beneficial to work with our current group of CSD SVF partners as we look to bring on more partners while evolving the SVF to become even more supportive of strengthening a burgeoning Deaf business ecosystem.”

The CSD SVF incubator program provides funding, consultation, and resource support to current partners. The program currently offers access to:

  • Direct capital investment
  • Mentorships and subject matter experts
  • In-house resource support, including marketing and creative
  • An intensive hybrid training program for business leadership

The CSD SVF is looking for applications from:

  • New business ideas and recently-formed startups
  • Mature businesses looking to scale up or expand
  • Media production (film or television show)

Application criteria for consideration for CSD SVF include:

  • Commitment to social impact via alignment with CSD’s commitment to Deaf success, notably through the creation of employment opportunities for Deaf people
  • Having the potential to grow and be scalable in sustainable ways
  • Demonstrating leadership in their field through a clear and far-reaching vision
  • Offering a unique, inclusive or innovative spin on traditional approaches for the benefit of greater numbers of people, including Deaf-centered design

Soukup added, “There is nothing more compelling than a story of success. We want to ensure the viability of Deaf-owned or Deaf-led businesses because they are living examples of Deaf success, which in turn will combat negative societal perceptions of Deaf people and their abilities. The hope is that our partners’ success will show other businesses the value of hiring Deaf workers and inspire future Deaf entrepreneurial ventures.”

For more information on the CSD Social Venture Fund, the application requirements, and CSD please visit CSD Social Venture Fund.


Brandi Rarus
Vice President, Public Relations, Engagement & Policy

The Durkin Agency


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