Kirchner Fellowship HBCU 2023-24 Cohort Announced

Fellows will be “Impact Venture Capitalistsfor an Academic Year

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. and WASHINGTON (July 24, 2023) – The Kirchner Impact Foundation and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced today the selection of three students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the third Kirchner Fellowship HBCU cohort. The fellowship is part of a $1 million collaboration between the two foundations over five-years to increase diversity within the venture capital industry by training HBCU students to become agriculture technology venture capitalists. Kirchner HBCU fellows invest capital in early-stage food and agriculture companies applying ground-breaking technologies to provide sustainable solutions to address global food challenges.

The 2023-2024 Kirchner HBCU Fellows are:

Wilberforce Twinamatsiko

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Twinamatsiko is pursuing a master’s degree in computer science and technology. He is researching food and nutrition education and empowerment in local underserved communities. He has worked as a drug manufacturing quality analyst and has been involved in United Nations Populations Fund and World Bank public health projects.

Zaire Dartez

Morgan State University

Dartez is a former Stanford University Innovations Fellow and a participant in prestigious programs and case competitions such as the Turner MIINT (MBA Impact Investing Network & Training) Competition and HBCUvc Fellowship. Pursuing a master’s degree in business, she has a passion for impact investing, edtech and regenerative agriculture and recognizes the transformative power of venture capital in shaping a better future.

Malcolm Bilal

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Bilal is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He has interned at Fifth Third Bank’s Decision Sciences Group and Enterprise Data Office, as well as at Beacon Partners commercial real estate agency. He also previously worked for the student-run hedge fund BLK Capital Management.

The fellows will be “impact venture capitalists” for an academic year while remaining full-time students at their respective universities. The fellowship provides an opportunity for students to learn about and ultimately control the entire investment process from mandate creation and deal flow sourcing to financial and impact due diligence, with full discretion over an investment decision. The fellows work directly with the Kirchner Impact Foundation leadership team and its network of thought leaders to engage in a series of face-to-face and online educational experiences that expose them to real-world, early-stage investment opportunities.  In previous years the Kirchner HBCU Fellowship has been awarded to students from Florida A&M University, Xavier University, Tuskegee University and Howard University.

“The third year of our program introduces an incredibly talented group of fellows attending HBCUs across the country. These new collaborations allow us to expand our reach and engage with a diversity of institutions,” stated Hattie Brown, Kirchner Impact Foundation co-manager. “This is extremely important given the unfolding events around diversity, equity and inclusion in the higher education system in the U.S. and the significance of HBCUs in this environment.”

“We are pleased to continue our five-year partnership with the Kirchner Impact Foundation, which supports FFAR’s mission to invest in scientific workforce development and address big food and agriculture challenges,” said Dr. LaKisha Odom, FFAR scientific program director for Soil Health. “We’re particularly excited that this opportunity focuses on HBCU students to build exposure to and diversity and inclusion in the industry.”

“I am honored to be selected for the Kirchner Fellowship program, which perfectly aligns with my interests in sustainable farming practices, venture capital diversity and innovation,” said Dartez. “I am looking forward to immersing myself in a vibrant community of driven individuals, sharing experiences and creating positive change together.”

“I was interested in joining this program because it provided me with the unprecedented opportunity as an undergraduate student to have full discretion over the investment of real capital that could potentially have a positive impact on lives all around the globe,” added Bilal. “Having this large amount of responsibility may be daunting to some, but for me working in that area of unfamiliarity is where I will be able to experience the most growth both personally and professionally.”

“Coming from a non-business background, at the same time being interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, this fellowship is a great opportunity for me to get exposure and training in the investment and business world,” said Twinamatsiko.

The Kirchner Fellowship HBCU program is made possible through the support of the Kirchner Group, a leading values-based traditional merchant bank and partners such as the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research and Burroughs-Wellcome Fund, as well as individual donors.

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Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.

Connect: @FoundationFAR

Kirchner Fellowship
The mission of the Kirchner Fellowship is to strengthen impact investing ecosystems in areas underserved by capital markets through training and empowering a diverse next generation of investors to allocate equity investments into early-stage companies. Through the use of a “real world, real time, real money” model, the program has proven that it is possible for newly-formed investment teams to become effective capital allocators in a matter of months.

The Kirchner Fellowship is an initiative of The Kirchner Impact Foundation (501 (c) (3)) one of the “returning arms” of Kirchner Group, that focuses on harnessing the positive power of enterprise to make a difference in addressing some of the most important issues of today.

The Foundation is always looking for like-minded organizations and individuals to help it continue to expand its training programs and impact. Contact us to learn more or click here to donate now.

Hattie Brown | Co-Manager, Kirchner Impact Foundation |

Kirchner Group
Kirchner Group was founded in 1985 as a boutique firm and today operates various subsidiaries, providing advisory services (M&A, assessments, diligence) and operational support (interim management, workouts, turnarounds) as well as asset management (dedicated, portfolio optimization) – all leveraging a proprietary approach that dovetails domain and process expertise.

Throughout the decades Kirchner Group has been internationally recognized for its unique business model centered around creating value while promoting values: “earning while returning”. The firm has also established a reputation for building and rebuilding important business and social paradigms based on its deep entrepreneurial orientation.

Kirchner Group’s clients and partners include early stage to mid-market companies, venture capital and private equity firms as well as family offices and some of the world’s largest insurance companies, commercial banks and institutional investors.

Blair Kirchner | Managing Director |