Lunar Startups Seeks Applications, Expands Team for First Cohort

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 30, 2018 – Earlier this year, American Public Media announced the launch of the Glen Nelson Center and its first program, Lunar Startups. Supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the new program – dedicated to supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs leading high growth startups – is seeking applications for its inaugural cohort beginning today and lasting until Friday, June 1, at

Lunar Startups managing director Melissa Kjolsing Lynch (left) and senior program manager Danielle Steer

Lunar Startups will accept five to seven early-stage companies to occupy dedicated space within Lunar Startups’ offices at Osborn370 in St. Paul’s downtown. In addition to office space, benefits of the 12-month cohort include ongoing visibility, education, stewardship and team development. Lunar Startups will measure success of the cohort based on the companies’ growth including customers and milestones achieved.

“Women and people of color are building exciting growth businesses but are often not provided with the same opportunities and access due to social capital and networks that still determine early success for most startups,” said Lunar Startups managing director Melissa Kjolsing Lynch. “We want to change that by surrounding our cohort with focused opportunities and experiences to cut through these societal challenges.”

American Public Media’s national reach creates a unique value proposition for startups interested in applying to the cohort, which can help startups connect and expand outside of Minnesota. Both American Public Media and Knight Foundation strive to strengthen the communities, including St. Paul, in which they exist and operate.

“Lunar Startups aims to provide important opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs to grow and thrive. We look forward to seeing how this first class of innovators will add to St. Paul’s momentum for inclusive growth and innovation,” said Jai Winston, Knight Foundation program director for St. Paul.

Entrepreneurs who have validated that there is a need for their product or service through customers, users or by raising money are encouraged to apply. Lunar Startups will host a session on Tuesday, May 8, at Wilder Foundation in St. Paul to share more information and answer questions about the application process. For more information about the event and to access the cohort application, visit

Lunar Startups Hires Danielle Steer

To support the cohort and community experience, Lunar Startups has hired Danielle Steer as senior program manager. Prior to Lunar Startups, Danielle served as manager of operations and member services at Impact Hub Minneapolis-St. Paul for three years, building a community of social entrepreneurs and changemakers. In her role, she also worked with a coalition of programs, organizations, and individuals to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Twin Cities.

“I’m thrilled to join Lunar Startups and believe in its vision of equitable opportunities and access for all of Minnesota’s high growth entrepreneurs,” said Steer. “Our approach of using human-centered design is collaborative and drives real value creation. Entrepreneurs are shaping this program directly and we believe that it will translate into real change and growth for these startups.”


About American Public Media 
American Public Media® is the national programming division of Minnesota Public Radio® and reaches nearly 21 million listeners via more than 1,000 radio stations nationwide each week. APM is one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world, with a portfolio that includes BBC World Service, Marketplace®, and the leading classical music programs in the nation. APM offers a diverse array of podcasts featuring the best in food, culture, entertainment, business and investigative journalism. For more information on APM, visit

Source: Data are copyright Nielsen Audio. Data are estimates only.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit