By GLENN GAMBOA, AP Business Writer
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Carl Nassib had dreamed for years of a different kind of social media app, one that celebrates positivity and community.
With Rayze, a new app that connects people to each other and to nonprofits that appeal to their interests or are based where they live, he may have created it.
Now it’s just a matter of getting people and nonprofits to use it. “When we’re on the move, if we’re hanging out on a Saturday afternoon and have time to spare, we can pick up our phones and in 10 seconds we can find something in our neighborhood to do to give back,” Nassib said. “There are going to be opportunities galore.”
And after a Series A funding investment and incubation support from Financial Finesse Ventures announced on Monday, Rayze will launch programs to add users and nonprofits. Details of the investment were not released, although Financial Finesse Ventures said its typical investment ranged from $500,0000 to $1.5 million for a minority stake.
Liz Davidson, CEO and Founder of Financial Finesse Ventures, said Rayze ticks all the boxes her firm’s venture arm looks for in an investment: positive social impact, a strong business model and a CEO who can inspire people. to work together.
“Carl is a force of nature,” Davidson said. “It’s going to be very difficult honestly to find other investments that can match that.”
Nassib, who made headlines last year when he became the first active NFL player to come out as gay, said the idea of Rayze has been with him since he volunteered with the Buccaneers at a center for juvenile offenders in Tampa in 2018.
“We visited children who were only 13 or 14 years old and who were in prison cells – many of them were there because they were just fleeing a violent family environment,” he said. declared. “These children were in really, really desperate need and the most moving thing was that they were half a mile from where we went to work every day,” he added. “And none of us knew they were there.”
Although many nonprofits say they struggle to find enough volunteers, Nassib says it’s because of a lack of connection, not a lack of compassion.
“Everyone wants to give back,” he said. “It’s just a bit difficult at the moment, but we’re going to make it as efficient as possible.”
Nassib hopes to help small nonprofits by providing a way for them to receive donations through Rayze, so they don’t have to set up their own online fundraising sites. He said part of the investment from Financial Finesse Ventures would allow Rayze to match the skills of a volunteer to the needs of a nonprofit to address a shortage of volunteers who can help organizations. nonprofit with technology or marketing.
Social media platforms are going through a tough time, between Elon Musk’s struggles with Twitter and Facebook’s parent company Meta laying off 11,000 workers. However, Nassib and his backers think they can find an audience.
Rayze’s new funding will support a series of new in-person events, called “SatuRayze,” where people can meet nonprofit representatives in their own communities.
“I want to get people out and give back to their communities — making it a popular thing to do,” Nassib said. “We just want to encourage grassroots movements. And we want to make it cultural, where it’s part of society to get up and do something.
The first SatuRayze will take place Thursday in New York’s McCarren Park, with nonprofits such as the New York Police Department Foundation, The Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention and mental health services to LGBTQ youth, and Sow Good Now, which supports philanthropic athletes.
Kevin Wong, vice president of communications for The Trevor Project, said the band is grateful for Nassib’s support. “In addition to inspiring so many young people to live their truth, he also inspires adults to accept and support LGBTQ people in their lives,” Wong said, adding that research shows that community interaction at events like SatuRayze is important. “Acceptance by at least one adult can reduce the risk of LGBTQ youth by 40% attempting suicide.”
Nassib believes Rayze can make a difference in all communities.
“My vision is just to get people out of their homes and involved,” he said. “It’s simply the most rewarding thing there is: to be of service to others. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, self worth, instead of staring at social media all day which is so crippling to your self esteem and self image. So we’re fighting all of these negative aspects of social media by getting people out of their homes and giving back. It’s funny.”
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