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Two founders of St. Louis nonprofits focused on expanding education equity have been awarded the prestigious Camelback Ventures Fellowship. 

Julius B. Anthony, founder of St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature, and Krystal Barnett, executive director of Bridge 2 Hope, are among Camelback’s 12 fellows this fall. 

The Camelback Fellowship identifies social impact leaders with promising ideas and helps them bring change by providing coaching, capital, connections, and curriculum. Fellows receive $40,000 in funding to support their work. 

The Opportunity Trust is a financial supporter of both nonprofits. In 2021, the trust funded the opening of a literacy lab called the Believe Project at Pershing Elementary School in University City. This initiative by the St. Louis Black Authors ignites a love for reading by giving children access to more than 1,000 culturally responsive books. 

The Opportunity Trust is a longtime backer of Bridge 2 Hope, which provides fellowships for parents and caregivers that teaches them how to advocate for their children. It also provides support and counseling to parents when they are facing obstacles to accessing resources. This year Bridge 2 Hope is expanding its team and impact to engage more parents in St. Louis and St. Louis County through parent fellowships. This is to ensure parents learn more ways to be involved in and advocate for their child’s education.

Iron sharpens iron

Both Anthony and Barnett said the fellowship will help grow their work. 

“Camelback has a proven history of successful graduates who are currently thriving,” Anthony said. “I am looking forward to saying I too am a Camelback Fellow and graduate who benefited exponentially from the experience with a business that ensures a literate Black community contributing to its long-term wealth development.”

“Iron sharpens Iron,” Barnett said. “To me, the Camelback Fellowship not only has the potential to truly impact me but I also get to pour in with others and together we won’t be the same as we came.” 

Since its beginning, Camelback Ventures has awarded more than $5 million to emerging entrepreneurs nationwide. The 2022 Camelback Fellowship is made possible by the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Kenan Charitable Trust, Margulf Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation.