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Being fearless sometimes requires going where no one else has gone — or, in the case of underrepresented groups, going where no one like you has ever gone.

We noticed many companies on CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list check one of those boxes. While disruptive innovation is the core thread among all companies on the ranking, many of this year’s honorees have a unique business model centered around social or environmental purpose, 13 have a female founder, and 14 have CEOs representing racial and ethnic minorities. Triple Pundit’s recent article on sustainability innovators was just as inspiring, full of scientists and entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid to do something different.

Below, we feature several organizations and individuals who are working fearlessly to conquer challenges and shape a better world — as well as many investors who support others who are disrupting the status quo. They inspire us with their bold actions and courage in the face of adversity. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do.

Blazing Trails to Heal from PTSD
We feature many trailblazers in Breaking Good, but Will “Akuna” Robinson might be the first who is literally conquering trails. Robinson is the first Black man to achieve the triple crown of hiking — three trails totaling nearly 8,000 miles. His journey is an inspiring tale of conquering inner demons to find peace.

As a veteran of the Iraq War, Robinson was struggling with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2016 when he came across the movie Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about healing by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Even though he had never been hiking, he decided to emulate the journey even before the credits started rolling, as he told ESPN a few years later.

Within weeks, Robinson’s embarked on the PCT. An injury cut the hike short after 1,600 miles, but that didn’t stop him. Motivated to finish, Robinson completed the trail the following year, then went on to hike the Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail the following years. He says getting in nature allowed him to live again, gain back his confidence and calm his anxiety.

Now, Robinson advocates for hiking as a path to mental health, hoping to inspire others to hit the trails in search of peace.
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Impact Investor Commits $65M to Fight Ocean Pollution
In news about new funds seeking to make an impact: Singapore-based Circulate Capital launched a $65 million initiative to reduce plastic pollution in Latin America and the Caribbean, building on its efforts to stimulate the circular economy. The new initiative boasts backing from major corporations, including Dow and Unilever. Circulate Capital isn’t the only sustainability-focused investment firm to launch a new fund. Just Climate announced last week it raised $1.5 billion for its inaugural fund, with strong support from institutional clients such as Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund and several pension funds.
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AI to the Rescue: Climate Edition

Artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be shaking up every industry, and climate tech and sustainable investing are no different. In a Q&A with The Wall Street Journal, Amy Francetic, co-founder of Buoyant Ventures, highlights innovative startups her firm is investing in, many of which are using AI to shape the energy transition. Meanwhile, Forbes describes how AI-based tools are revolutionizing sustainable infrastructure investing.
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LGBTQ+ Founders, Entrepreneurs, and VCs to Know

Although 7.1% of US adults identify as LGBTQ+, founders in this group still receive less than 1% of venture capital funding. That’s why it’s inspiring to read the profiles featured in PitchBook’s latest list of 47 LGBTQ+ founders and investors, who are blazing trails to create space for themselves and others in the capital markets.
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$150 Million Fund for Black and Latinx Startups
Nearly three years after SoftBank launched a $100 million fund to support diverse founders, the firm is now building on its investments with the Open Opportunity Fund. Continuing the mission to support and build a community of outstanding Black and Latinx founders, the new $150 million fund opens access to other LPs and organizations to invest in the fund.
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Celebrating Freedom

Next Monday, Americans will observe Juneteenth, marking the day the last enslaved people in the US learned they were free. Juneteenth is a newly recognized federal holiday, but Black Americans have celebrated the momentous day for generations. The New York Times highlights celebrations happening across the country, from Galveston, Texas (the birthplace of Juneteenth), to Martha’s Vineyard. If you are looking for inspiration for your own barbeque, cookbook author Nicole Taylor shares some favorite recipes with Bon Appétit.
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