Salesforce Doubles Down With $100M Fund for Education and Other ‘Impact’ Investments

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For its second impact fund, Salesforce is doubling the size of its pockets to support start-up companies working to solve problems in education, workforce training and climate science, and to create economic opportunities for minority and underrepresented populations.

Today, the publicly traded technology company announced a new $100 million Impact Fund within its Salesforce Ventures investment arm. The fund comes from Salesforce’s operating capital—in other words, it did not raise this money from outside investors.

“In the midst of concurrent crises—a global pandemic, economic fallout, and systemic racism and injustice—there’s never been a more important time to seek and support solutions that create new opportunities,” said Claudine Emeott, senior director of impacting investing at Salesforce, in an interview.

The investment strategy does have specific parameters—the most important of which is that prospective funding recipients should be able to show how their tools and services align with Salesforce’s existing product offerings. In education, the company offers a version of its flagship customer relationship management (CRM) system for K-12 and higher-ed institutions. There’s also Trailhead, its online platform for employee training.

Most recently, Salesforce released Work.com, a suite of data services including wellness checkers, communication and contact-tracing tools, to help school and college leaders inform their physical reopening plans.

Emeott, who has been helping her first-grader with remote learning at home, says she can relate to the desire shared among many other parents to get kids back to schools safely. That has become a priority for the company—and the focus of a $20 million grant that Salesforce recently awarded to the major school districts in San Francisco, Indianapolis, Chicago, New York City and Oakland, Calif.

As an example of how a startup in the Salesforce portfolio has complemented the company’s broader education work, Emeott offered AdmitHub, which sells colleges an AI-powered chatbot