The ESG Initiative at the Wharton School


WIVA Explores Melanence, an E-Learning Startup Focused on Communities of Color

A team of Penn students in Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA) researched Melanence – an online professional ecosystem where communities of color are empowered to grow skills, build networks, and earn additional income.

Melanence logoThe pandemic is accelerating the shift to online learning. However, instructors of color are under-represented on existing platforms. Additionally, online learning platforms utilize a “one size fits all” solution, which lacks diverse perspectives and teaching styles.

There is consistent evidence that students of color perform higher on standardized tests, have improved attendance, and have lower suspension rates when taught by teachers of their same race. Johns Hopkins University and American University report that Black students who have even one Black teacher by third grade are 13% more likely to enroll in college. Low income young Black men are 39% less likely to drop out of high school if they had at least one Black teacher in elementary school.

Melanence addresses these issues through an online learning platform that explicitly recruits instructors of color to create courses that are technically and culturally relevant to their target audience. The platform provides a safe space for communities of color to take the next step in their professional and entrepreneurial journeys by taking courses on a variety of topics with peers and instructors that understand their cultural context.

Exemplifying the collaborative culture of WIVA, Wharton undergraduate student Tyler Jonas, W’23 and Wharton MBA student Alexander Weir, WG’22 worked together to source and research the company, ultimately connecting Melanence to the crowdfunding platform Netcapital. “We are excited to support the Melanence team as they scale their platform and embark on this next stage of growth. Melanence’s mission of empowering communities of color to change the world is well-aligned with our purpose and we believe their trajectory offers promising opportunities for success,” they said.




Neither the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School, Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA), nor any of their respective students, faculty, directors, officers, employees, representatives, affiliates, or agents (collectively, the “Penn Parties”) (i) is acting as underwriter, broker-dealer, promoter, financial advisor, or other intermediary with respect to any offering of securities by any entity mentioned in this article, or (ii) has received or will receive any compensation from any person or entity as an incentive to publish of this article.  In addition, the Penn Parties have not received and will not receive any compensation or other item of value in connection with any possible or future investment in any securities issued by any entity mentioned herein.

Any research or diligence described above (i) was performed by WIVA solely for its own, limited, educational purposes, and not for the purpose of aiding any person in making any investment decision, and (ii) may be limited and incomplete, by its very nature, as a result of limited publicly available information and other limited information voluntarily made available to WIVA.  No Penn Party shall have any liability whatsoever arising from any error or incompleteness of fact or opinion in, or lack of care in the preparation or publication of, this article.

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