Our Community

We’re excited for you to join our community! We are learners, mentors, staff, and partners, all of whom are focused on building the capacity and confidence of emerging Black entrepreneurs. We’re looking forward to this journey, and we know we will go farther together.

Meet Our


Run the Future Learner, Spring 2022

Venture Idea: Bringing neurodivergent superheroes into the comic book world


Run the Future Learner, Summer 2022

Venture Idea: An app to make books more accessible to immigrants in their native languages


Run the Future Learner, Winter 2023

Venture Idea: Full-spectrum doula services providing education access, care, and resources to Black folks

Tariq & Thomas

Run the Future Learner, Summer 2022

Venture Idea: Further developed their existing clothing line by gathering feedback, engaging with target customers, and launching Brand Ambassadors


Run the Future Learner, Summer 2022

Venture Idea: A platform to connect people in need of medical treatment with people that are willing to donate medicine or services


Run the Future Learner, Winter 2023

Venture Idea: Replacing single-use coffee cups with an alternative cheaper and eco-friendly substance called mycelium

Our Near
Peer Mentors


Near Peer Mentor, Formation Ventures

I am working on a YouTube Channel, creating a series of short films that are all connected to each other.


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Near Peer Mentor, Formation Ventures

FloFurther LLC is a consulting startup dedicated to addressing bias and inequity within academic and corporate spaces. Through the development of Interpersonal Diversity & Inclusion workshops I hope to reinvent how diversity is introduced, discussed, and engaged in the professional world so that all people are given a seat at the table.

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Near Peer Mentor, Formation Ventures

I am starting an Esports organization that will bridge the gap between secondary & post-secondary options for minoritized youth interested in an Esports Career. The idea is to cultivate a space of belonging for minoritized professionals in Esports while also building opportunities for youth to pursue their passion of gaming.

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Near Peer Mentor, Formation Ventures

I am currently building The Ubi Box, a Kansas-powered monthly subscription box of meats, fruits, vegetables, and spices. We connect consumers to local farmers through their products and partner with chefs and culinary artists to help customers transform their food into cuisine.

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Near Peer Mentor, Formation Ventures

I run a photography business called Claremont Captured on my college campus. I’ve worked alone and alongside the school to cover events and run personal shoots.


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Near Peer Mentor, Formation Ventures

I’m working on my bioengineering degree to help the medical technology industry, and am a near peer mentor at Formation Ventures.


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FV Crew

Saamra Mekuria-Grillo

CEO and Co-Founder, Formation Ventures

Saamra is Formation Ventures’ CEO and Co-Founder. Born in Boston, Saamra has lived in Los Angeles, Oakland, and now is based in San Antonio, TX.

Prior to founding Formation Ventures, Saamra was the founding COO of the Pahara Institute, and spent time at Google and Bain & Company. Saamra’s first entrepreneurial venture was co-founding a student club at her high school. She has two sons who she’s trying hard to recruit to be avid 90’s R&B fans like her, and who occupy her hours outside of work in exploration of the world.

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Brian Lightfoot

Co-FounderFormation Ventures

Brian is Formation Ventures’ Co-Founder and former Chief Program Officer. Born in Hartford, CT, Brian has lived in Atlanta, GA (where he attended Clark Atlanta University) and currently resides in Denver, CO.

Prior to Formation Ventures, Brian was a consultant for Colorado Youth Congress and the Partnership for the Future of Learning. Brian is now finishing his PhD in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. Brian’s first entrepreneurial venture was promoting parties as an undergraduate in Atlanta. Brian and his wife, Nikki, enjoy traveling and finding new restaurants to review.

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Hassan Bangurah

Instructional Lead, Run the Future

Hassan is an Instructional Lead at Run the Future, a collaboration between Formation Ventures and Cambiar Education. Born in the nation’s capital, he grew up in Maryland and now lives in Virginia. He is passionate about arming students with the tools they need to access the world around them.

Before working with Formation Ventures and Cambiar on Run the Future, he taught 3rd grade at Excellence Girls EA, 5th grade science virtually, and 5th grade STEM at an IB world school, where he was able to create project based learning for students to engage with STEM concepts. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, learning something new, and creating art projects.

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Danitra Blue

Product Manager, Run the Future

Danitra is a Product Manager at Run the Future, a collaboration between Formation Ventures and Cambiar Education. Born and raised in Buford, Georgia, Danitra has lived in Boston and now lives in New Orleans. She is passionate about equipping learners with the skills and mindsets needed to address humanity’s greatest challenges.

Before working with Formation Ventures and Cambiar Education on Run the Future, she taught 7th grade English at KIPP, managed teams of K-12 academic and SEL interventionists at City Year, developed and directed national programming at High Resolves, and designed learning experiences at On Deck. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, reading, baking, and exploring the outdoors.

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Rene Morgan

Operations Lead, Run the Future

Rene is the Operations Lead for Run the Future, a collaboration between Formation Ventures and Cambiar Education.

Prior to joining the team, Rene led operations for the Charter Network Accelerator program and was the Founder and Program Director of the Early Career Leadership Program at Achievement First. Rene began her career in education as a school administrator at the Harlem Children’s Zone. Born in the Bay Area, Rene lived on the East Coast for over 10 years and now is based in Southern California. Rene’s first entrepreneurial venture was as a dog walker. Rene enjoys spending time with her loved ones including her family, friends, and her dog.

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Kiersten Wesley

Program Associate, Formation Ventures

Kiersten Wesley is the Program Associate for Formation Ventures. She is passionate about equipping young people of color with the necessary financial and entrepreneurial skills to help combat the prevalent wealth discrepancies present today.

Before joining Formation Ventures, Kiersten spent four years as an English teacher at a charter school, where she implemented identity affirming and culturally responsive pedagogy. During her time as an educator, Kiersten prioritized relationship building with students and providing effective lesson facilitation in the classroom.

Kiersten holds a bachelor’s degree in Financial Planning with a specialization in Entrepreneurship from the University of Georgia, and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. In her spare time, she enjoys meditation, weight lifting, and other mindfulness activities.

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