Even as Covid-19 has strained nearly every aspect of life in New York City, in recent weeks, we’ve heard about so many women who are meeting the moment with creativity, intelligence and empathy.

Whether she’s pivoting her catering businesses to make food for first responders or redeploying her 3D printers to forge Covid test kits, these New Yorkers are looking at what’s possible — and how to help the city they love come back.

Starting this month, women.nyc will be featuring their stories on our social platforms – and we’d love your help.

If you’ve been inspired by a NYC woman who’s responding to the Covid crisis with a spirit of innovation and generosity, please share her information in the form below, and we’ll get in touch. (Don’t worry – we won’t feature anyone without her permission.) Think your own work deserves recognition? Don’t be shy – women.nyc wants to hear about all the great things you’re doing to help our city.

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates on, virtual events, online workshops and all things female empowerment.

Nominate an Inspirational New Yorker

Like many other Black Americans, I’ve experienced a vast range of emotions in recent weeks. As protest movements bloomed nationwide, I have cried, raged, and despaired. I’ve thought about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others whose lives were taken by racism and police violence, and I’ve thought long and hard about how I can do my part.

As Deputy Director of women.nyc, I have been so honored to help the women of New York City succeed and aim higher in their careers and businesses. I’ve led workshops in rooms jammed-packed with Black and brown women experiencing a sense of belonging and community in a space with so many women like them, whose journeys to fair pay have been far too long.

As a Black woman, I know that struggle first-hand; I’ve felt how stereotypes and racism can cut deeply, from microaggressions to derailed career trajectories and stolen opportunities. That’s why I do this work and cherish it so much. Racism takes on many forms, and it affects black women economically, emotionally and professionally.

Here at women.nyc, we stand with all women in our diverse NYC community in condemning racism and valuing black lives. Our mission is to connect women of all backgrounds with tools to compete and advance, by supporting policies that help them do so and promoting inclusivity and access in growing industries and fields where women, Black and brown women in particular, are underrepresented.

Everything we do is through the lens of equity, and we vow to continue shedding light on discrimination and bias in the workplace and to be allies in change. We will continue to prioritize the advancement of Black women in New York City, while sharing actionable tools to help.

Here are a few ways we’ll start:

  • By continuing the work we started with programs like our Ask for More salary negotiation workshops, NewVenture 50+ entrepreneurial bootcamp, NYC Women’s Fund for female creatives and our She Built NYC, our public-arts campaign honoring trailblazing New Yorkers including Elizabeth Jennings Graham and Shirley Chisholm. We will build on this momentum by pursuing new partnerships that uplift women of color and drive equity in actionable, meaningful ways.
  • By engaging with our network of NYC women’s organizations and community partners to ensure that all programming centers racial equity alongside gender equity as core principles.
  • Through the creation of a diverse mentoring network to increase access to career opportunity and support.

This is a trying time for our city, and yet a hopeful one as well. We acknowledge the need for change – and pledge to work at every turn to make New York City a place where Black women thrive professionally and enjoy the opportunities they deserve.

four women sitting around a conference table

Important Update:The inaugural NewVenture 50+ bootcamp has been rescheduled, and will launch as an online class on Thursday, June 4, 2020. Stay tuned for more info on future bootcamp cohorts. 

If you’re a woman age 50 and up and you have an idea for a new business, this brand new boot camp is for you.

We’re partnering with WE NYC at the Department of Small Business Services on a program specifically designed for women over 50. FastTrac NewVenture 50+ is an intensive, twice-a-week course that will take you from idea to action plan in ten sessions over six weeks.

The program will teach participants how to refine their business concepts, draft a strong business plan, and gain the knowledge and skills they need to launch a profitable small business, all through the lens of current market shifts and changes due to the economic impact of covid-19. The first cohort is launching as an online class on Thursday, June 4, 2020.

The course is a response to a new report from New York City Economic Development Corporation that highlights many of the financial and workforce challenges this demographic faces. The twice weekly sessions, led by Ventureneer president Geri Stengel, will teach participants the fundamental skills to launch a business and share strategic insight into pivoting and adapting your business during a crisis.

The sessions will also feature guest speakers who will share their insights on starting an enterprise. Interested? Click here to learn more and stay tuned for information on future FastTrac NewVenture 50+ cohorts.

cover of NYCEDC Economic Quarterly Report on Women over 50 in the workforce

Download Women 50+in the Workforce: Tackling Economic Vulnerability

women.nyc tech guide graphic

Learn where to log on and learn marketable tech skills

Last fall, we introduced our first guide to free and low-cost tech training in New York City, a downloadable resource to help you learn highly marketable tech skills.

Today we’re updating it to feature all-online classes. Because even when the job market is in flux, tech skills like web development, data science and cybersecurity are a solid bet.

The good news is that New York City is rich in free and low-cost ways to learn these in-demand skills, offered by a host of government agencies, universities, private companies and nonprofits that have adapted to the current moment by moving their content online.

Download The Beginner’s Guide to Free & Low Cost Tech Courses in NYC: Online Learning Edition

This guide is designed specifically for newbies and job-changers, geared toward helping users get a foot in the door for jobs in these key fields. Of course, no introductory class will give you all the mastery required for a high-paying tech career. But these courses can help you make a career switch or just be more valuable in your current job quickly and affordably.

Think you can make it in tech? We do. Here are dozens of places to start.

Happy e-learning!

Download The Beginner’s Guide to Free & Low Cost Tech Courses in NYC: Online Learning Edition

New York City cityscape

During this time, New Yorkers are facing unique challenges.

Women.nyc will be using our platform and leveraging our public, nonprofit and private partnerships to identify and develop helpful resources, information and volunteer or donation opportunities for New Yorkers in need, or those looking to lend a helping hand. If you have resources or information you’d like to add to this list, please submit them to [email protected].

  1. Latest info on COVID-19
  2. For Small Business Owners
  3. For Non-profits
  4. For Freelancers and Creatives
  5. Mental Health and Wellness
  6. Food Assistance
  7. For Volunteers
  8. Combating Discrimination and Violence
  9. For Parents and Families
  10. Online Learning and Professional Resources

The latest information on COVID-19

The situation around COVID-19 is changing every day. Stay up to date on the city and state response to the pandemic and get info on how to remain safe:

NYC.gov: Watch Mayor de Blasio’s daily COVID-19 updates at nyc.gov and visit nyc.gov/coronavirus for the latest guidance on public health best practices, the latest data on COVID-19 in NYC, and more. Some recent updates include:

  • Guidance on face coverings: The NYC Department of Health  recommends that all New Yorkers wear a face covering when outside of their home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. For more info see this face covering FAQ.
  • Free meals: Any New Yorker who wants one can get three free meals a day at more than 400 meal hubs across the city, operated by the NYC Department of Education. Learn more.
  • Notify NYC: Get live updates from Notify NYC by texting “COVID” to 692-692. For updates in Spanish text “COVIDESP” to 692-692.

NY.gov: Keep up with the latest on the state’s COVID-19 response with Governor Cuomo’s daily briefings. Recent updates include:

  • NYS on PAUSE Order: The Governor’s order requiring all non-essential workers to stay at home and non-essential businesses to close has been extended through May 28. Visit the NYS Dept.of Health for more.

For small business owners

New York Forward Loan Fund: This $100 million fund, created by New York State, will provide flexible and affordable loans to help small businesses, focusing on minority and women owned small businesses, that did not receive federal COVID-19 assistance. Pre-applications for the fund are now open, with priority given to industries and regions that have been reopened.

NYC emergency supply sourcing: There is a shortage of personal protective equipment products for healthcare workers in New York’s hospitals, including gloves, masks and gowns. New York City is sourcing companies, vendors and individuals who can assist in manufacturing these items. Click here to fill out the response form. New York State is asking all personal protective equipment product providers to sell to the state any products that are not essential or not currently being used. Click here to offer your services.

Forbes Small Business Relief Tracker: Forbes is tracking funding, grants and resources for business owners grappling with COVID-19-related closures.

Inc. Financial Assistance Tracker for Businesses: Inc. is tracking governmental financial assistance for small businesses in a variety of states, including New York.

Alice COVID-19 Business Center: This free digital platform for entrepreneurs has created a central resource hub to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding, tech and informational resources are being created and shared daily. Alice also has a $200,000 business grant fund for business owners.

Downtown Alliance Small Business Rental Assistance Grants: To help confront the massive impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, the Downtown Alliance is providing rental assistance grants of $10,000 each to help offset monthly rental costs for 80 small businesses that are currently providing “essential services” as defined by New York State. Applications open on May 1, 2020.

NYC Department of Small Business Services: For guidelines for business owners to address changes in customer behavior and for financial assistance and city programs for small businesses impacted by COVID-19; see below for grant programs and funding:

  • Virtual Business Services: SBS’ Business Centers are now offering virtual webinars for early stage businesses on topics including marketing, cashflow planning, and more:
  • Free Business Courses: SBS offers free, online courses for NYC entrepreneurs or business owners looking for guidance. Topics include business planning, sales and marketing, financing and growth.

U.S. Small Business Administration:  Small-business relief programs are available through the federal CARE Act, offering forgivable grants, loans and loan deferral. These SBA programs also apply to nonprofits that meet the necessary size requirements.

  • Paycheck Protection Program: Offers forgivable loans up to $10 million to help businesses cover costs for payroll, rent, mortgage and utility.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program: Get loans up to $2 million with a 3.75% interest rate on a 10-year term. A $10,000 advance is also available to businesses that applies for the EIDL;  these funds can be issued quickly within three days while the EIDL loan application processes.* With the additional funding provided by the new COVID-19 relief package, SBA will resume processing EIDL Loan and Advance applications that are already in the queue on a first come, first-served basis.*
  • Express Bridge Loans: Small businesses currently working with an SBA Express Lender can access up to $25,000 quickly through this bridge program.
  • SBA Debt Relief: The SBA is providing a financial reprieve to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Facebook Small Business Grants Program: Facebook will be offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Google Ad credits: To help alleviate some of the cost for small and medium-sized businesses attempting to stay in touch with their customers during this time, Google is offering $340 million in ad credits to small businesses using Google Ads worldwide.

Goldman Sachs U.S. Small Business Resource Center: Goldman has created a new resource center for small businesses and entrepreneurs navigating the fallout from COVID-19. Resources include policy explainers, loan application instructions and related Goldman Sachs programs, such as free access to their Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Online courses.

iFundWomen: startup funding platform iFundWomen helps women entrepreneurs obtain capital through crowdfunding and grants. Recently, IFW launched a universal grant application to be considered for all IFW grants; fill out the application by April 30 to be considered for current grants and more to come.

Kiva: This nonprofit is supporting small businesses impacted by COVID-19 by expanding loan eligibility and amounts for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation: This nonprofit has created a COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund to provide direct relief to restaurant workers and zero-interest loans to help restaurants get up and running.

Restaurant Strong Fund: The Restaurant Strong Fund from Samuel Adams and The Greg Hill Foundation is providing aid to restaurant workers impacted by the COVID-19 closures in 20 states, including New York.

Rethink Food.NYC: This nonprofit organization has launched the Restaurant Response Program to assist 30 New York City restaurants with funding of up to $40,000 to maintain their operations.

The Red Backpack Fund:  Spanx founder Sara Blakely has donated $5 million to support female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19, in partnership with GlobalGiving. The fund will make 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to female entrepreneurs in the U.S. to help alleviate immediate needs and support long-term recovery.

 Salesforce Care Small Business Grants: Salesforce is providing grants of  up to $10,000 to provide capital to help businesses as they work to replenish materials, pay salaries, or adapt their business models. For New York, the deadline to apply is May 1, 2020.

SheaMoisture: SheaMoisture has created a $1M community commence fund to support women and minority owned small businesses. Starting April 8, businesses can apply for relief funding under different initiatives, such as their Women of Color Entrepreneur E-Lab and the Black Business Relief Fund, in partnership with ‘We Buy Black’. 

For nonprofits

Robin Hood Relief Fund: Robin Hood has activated its relief fund to support the work of New York’s top social service organizations who are on the front lines, serving under-resourced and vulnerable communities that are being hit the hardest. Donate or apply for funding here.

The New York Women’s Foundation: The Foundation launched the 2020 Resilience-NYC: COVID-19 Response Fund to support community-led solutions to meet the immediate needs of women, girls, and transgender, gender nonconforming and gender nonbinary people and their families. The fund provides a six month grant for up to $25,000 in general operating support or program-specific support to organizations aligned with the Foundations mission. Donate or apply for funding via email: [email protected].

The New York Community Trust: NYCT, in partnership with the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation and other institutions, has created the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund to provide grants and loans to NYC-based nonprofits that are trying to meet the new and urgent needs that are hitting the city.

Brooklyn Community Foundation: This community foundation’s Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund will issue grants to front-line service organizations providing lifelines for vulnerable populations like meal delivery, support for low-wage workers and other emerging needs.

For freelancers and creatives

Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment: Take this survey if you’re a commercial business in media and entertainment (film, TV, music, theater, advertising, gaming, or publishing) impacted by COVID-19; it will help inform the City’s response and relief efforts.

New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA): Visit this nonprofit service organization’s site for information on emergency grant funding for creatives.

Made in NY Media Center: The Media Center is a city-supported hub for information on ways to help artists and creatives, from resource guides to available funding and remote work opportunities.

The Actors Fund: This national organization is providing emergency assistance to professionals in the creative industries, such as film, theater, TV and music.

Freelancers Union: This membership organization for independent workers has launched the Freelancers Relief Fund to offer financial assistance of up to $1,000 per freelance household to cover lost income and essential expenses not covered by government relief programs. They have also compiled a guide to COVID-19 resources for freelancers.

Foundation for Contemporary Arts: This artist funded non-profit has launched an Artist Relief Fund for U.S.-based artists who’ve fallen on hard times because of the COVID-19 outbreak. If you’ve had a performance or show canceled because of COVID-19, apply for a grant of up to $1,000.

PEN America: The organization is expanding its Writers’ Emergency Fund to support members of the literary community impacted by COVID-19 job layoffs and closures.

Mental health and wellness

ThriveNYC: The City’s mental health initiative provides support for those experiencing anxiety, depression and stress. Reach out for assistance via NYC Well, a confidential 24/7 helpline staffed by trained counselors. They can provide brief counseling and referrals to care in over 200 languages. Call 888-NYC-WELL (888-692-9355), text “WELL” to 65173 or chat at NYC.gov/nycwell.

Food assistance

NYC COVID-19 Food Assistance Resources: During the COVID-19 public health crisis, New York City is taking steps to make sure every New Yorker has access to the food they need with a variety of programs:
  • FoodHelp NYC: provides a map of free food resources across the city, including food pantries and free meals at NYC Schools, available for all children or adults in need. Find a location near you by texting ‘NYC FOOD’ or ‘NYC COMIDA’ to 877-877 or click here.
  • ACCESS HRA: Click here to apply for SNAP benefits or cash assistance from home.
  • Help Now NYC: Visit this hub for more information on how to give and get COVID-19 relief.
  • NYC Food Delivery Assistance: If you cannot go out to get food, no one can bring you food, and you are not able to use private delivery options, NYC will deliver emergency meals to you. Check your eligibility and sign up.

Food Bank NYC: This nonprofit provides volunteer opportunities and a map for locations of soup kitchens, pantries or other public assistance.

HungerFree NYC: Publishes a“Neighborhood Guides to Food and Assistance” that cover all NYC neighborhoods by zip code and are available in multiple languages.

Hot Bread Kitchen: is supporting relief efforts by providing meals made by local food businesses to frontline healthcare workers as well as emergency stipends and funding for workers and businesses.

For volunteers

Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City: Donate to the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to support health care workers, local businesses, displaced hourly workers, families, youth and vulnerable New Yorkers experiencing the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19.

NYC Service: This city agency leads the Volunteer Coordination Taskforce (VCTF) in partnership with NYC Emergency Management, New York Cares and other partners to centralize and coordinate volunteer efforts during emergencies. Click here for resources and information on how community-based organizations and individuals can safely support COVID-19 response efforts.

NYC Department for the Aging: Volunteer to help aging New Yorkers in your neighborhood. Seniors can call 212-244-6469 to find out about assistance during recommended social distancing.

GiveDirectly: This global nonprofit is localizing it’s reach nationally and partnering with FreshEBT to provide an emergency cash response in the form of grants of up to $1,000 per household for those most in need. You can click here to donate to the effort.

United Way NYC: United Way of New York City has established the COVID-19 Community Fund, a dedicated resource to support the COVID-19 public health emergency; you can also donate to their national relief effort here. UWNYC also offers Plentiful, a free app that connects the city’s food pantries with people in need.

Combating discrimination and violence

Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence: While NYC’s Family Justice Centers are temporarily closed, services remain available by phone, such as immediate safety planning, shelter assistance and other resources.

New York City Commission for Human Rights: If you believe you may have been discriminated against, be it racial or housing discrimination, contact NYCCHR to report it. Additionally, Attorney General James recently announced the launch of a hotline for New Yorkers to report hate crimes and bias-based incidents. Call 1-800-771-7755, or email [email protected]

The Center for Anti-Violence Education: CAENY is offering an online workshop titled “Responding to Xenophobia during the spread of Coronavirus” until March 31st. In these sessions, individuals will learn about strategies to respond to bias and xenophobia against Asian communities.

For parents and families

NYC Department of Education: For student activities and resources and guidance for teachers, and for up to date information about how New York City public schools are adapting to COVID-19, such as the grab-and-go meals program, remote learning, device rentals and regional enrichment centers for the children of first responders, health care and transit workers and the most vulnerable student populations.

Public Libraries: While all branches in the city’s three library systems are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library have expanded their online resources and collections for book lovers, parents and students.

  • New York Public Library: NYPL is offering free one-on-one online tutoring for students grades K-12, in English and Spanish. The library also has remote learning resources for older kids and teens.
  • Brooklyn Public Library: BPL has a creative selection of virtual activities for kids and families.
  • Queens Public Library: QPL has sourced a virtual library for kids and parents, including access to online learning databases, virtual storytime and mental health resources to help kids cope.

Virtual NYC from NYC GO: Check out ways to explore the five boroughs while socially distancing with NYC GO’s online resources from museums, galleries, comedy clubs, theaters and other venues so that you can experience the best of New York City virtually.

Fun at Home: This mobile-first city resource for teens and young adults has released a resource page of virtual activities and support services, from free access to NBA League Pass and SAT prep to virtual workouts and emotional support resources. Fun at Home is a partnership between the Children’s Cabinet’s Generation NYC, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, NYC Opportunity, NYC Service and Young Men’s Initiative.

Coursera: This e-learning company is offering free courses for high school students, from calculus to guitar for beginners.

“Learn From Home” from Scholastic: Scholastic is releasing daily free courses for kids at home due to COVID-19 school closures.

Online learning and professional resources

New York State Department of Labor website: Visit the NYS DOL website for info on unemployment assistance:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: The NYS DOL has launched a new streamlined application for New Yorkers to apply for pandemic unemployment assistance without having to first apply for unemployment insurance.
  • The state has also waived the 7-day waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits for people who are out of work due to COVID-19 closures.

NYC Department of Consumer Affairs: DCA’s Financial Empowerment Centers provide free one-on-one professional, financial counseling and coaching to help New Yorkers reduce debt, understand student loans, strengthen credit scores, balance a budget , open a bank account and more. Book an appointment online.

Workforce1 Career Centers: While physical centers are closed, the NYC Department of Small Business Services’ Workforce1 Career Centers are now operating remotely; if you need assistance identifying job opportunities, preparing for interviews, or accessing training, visit the virtual system.

ACCESSNYC: A portal for NYC residents to determine their eligibility for over 30 economic opportunity programs and benefits. It also includes a regularly updated list of COVID-19 response resources and info on unemployment benefits and insurance, workers rights, food assistance and health insurance.

Public Libraries: While all branches in the city’s three library systems are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library have expanded their online resources and collections for book lovers, parents and students and job seekers:

LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn is offering 16 of its learning courses for free, which include tips on how to stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way.

National Cyber Security Alliance: NCSA’s Stay Safe Online initiative has compiled a COVID-19 Security Resource Library with tips and recommendations on ways for both employees and businesses to stay safe online and avoid cyber threats and scams during this pandemic.

If you have resources or information you’d like to add to this list, please submit them to [email protected]

Women's Fund recipients

The NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre has awarded its second round of grant funding to 94 music, theatre, film and digital media projects led by female and female-identifying artists. These grants total $2 million and are designed to help artists complete their projects.

The Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment (MOME), in partnership with the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), launched the $5.5 million, three-year program in 2018 to support film, digital and theater projects made by New York City women, with the goal of fostering gender equity in financing opportunities in the entertainment industry. New York is the first city in the country to provide direct grants to women working in these industries, and during the Fund’s first round last year, MOME awarded a total of $1.5 million to 63 film, digital and theatre projects, up to $50,000 per project. In 2019, $500,000 was added to support music projects.

The addition of music to the list of eligible categories will further the program’s goal to target gender inequity in stubbornly male-dominated industries. Nationally, just four of the top 100 grossing films were directed by a woman last year, and women comprised fewer than 30% of writers, creators, directors or other leading roles. And when it comes to music, a recent report from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that from 2013-2019, just 10% of GRAMMY nominees were women, and from 2012-2018 only 22% of artists, 12% of songwriters and 2% of producers of 700 popular songs from the Hot 100 year-end Billboard Charts were female.

MOME awarded grants to projects in the following categories:

  • 20 Popular Music – up to $20,000
  • 15 Classical/Jazz/Experimental – up to $20,000
  • 16 Theatre Productions – each received up to $50,000
  • 8 Documentary Features –up to $50,000
  • 4 Fiction Features –up to $50,000
  • 9 Fiction Shorts –up to $25,000
  • 8 Documentary Shorts – up to $25,000
  • 7 Fiction Webisode / Webseries – up to $20,000
  • 7 Documentary Webisodes / Webseries – up to $20,000

The projects selected cover a broad range of topics including: a bilingual album that features women’s voices in the Mexican and American folk genres; an EP that combines afrobeat, jazz fusion, and afro house music with lyrics that address female empowerment; a theatre production about an Iranian-American woman’s anti-war dinner party that goes off track; a documentary webseries that follows the lives of five people through the world of dance; a fiction short about two Puerto Rican women from the Bronx who go on a dangerous Las Vegas adventure; and a fiction feature film about family, survival and sexual assault.

In total, 1,357 applications were evaluated by a panel of 48 industry experts.

The full list of projects that received awards and panelists can be found here. Grant guidelines can be found on NYFA’s website.

Jessica Sobhraj, Founder and CEO of Cosynd

Jessica Sobhraj’s “aha” idea struck several years ago when she was working on licensing music for films, TV shows, commercials and games. Almost daily, she would find herself trying to figure out who owned the copyrights to the work, only to discover that the legal documents necessary to establish ownership just didn’t exist.

“This was a huge problem,” she told us. “When creators do not take the time to put ownership agreements in place and to register their copyrights, they can face lawsuits, liability and lost income – as well as the serious cost of undoing those mistakes. After encountering this so often, I naturally said the cheesiest words any entrepreneur eventually says: ‘There has to be a better way!’ ”

At the time, there wasn’t. So Sobhraj and a small team built a basic app that evolved into Cosynd, their fast-growing platform that helps creators of music, videos, visual art, literature and other forms of media protect their work. Cosynd is now used to create, negotiate and sign copyright contracts that can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Many creators are discovering Cosynd through partners including CD Baby, Women in Music, BookBaby, Disc Makers, AdRev and others.

Cosynd is the first investment from women.nyc’s WE Venture Fund, New York City Economic Development Corporation’s $30 million venture partnership to invest in women and minority led businesses. “We are thrilled to be an investor in Cosynd, a company on a mission to support creators in protecting their work,” said Julia Schneider, VP of NYCEDC’s Strategic Investments Group. “As the first investment of our WE Venture portfolio, we were determined to select a partner with the passion, creativity and grit that embodies the spirit of the program. Cosynd, under Sobhraj’s leadership, was a no-brainer.”

We sat down with Cosynd’s CEO, Jessica Sobhraj to find out more.

How can independent artists use Cosynd?
It’s a very simple, straightforward platform. For us, it was really important to build something that would allow people to protect themselves in a simple and affordable way that was completely approachable. We walk our creators go through a guided series of questions to generate a customized copyright ownership agreement (a split sheet, a work for hire agreement, a producer agreement or a collaboration agreement). That agreement is sent off to their collaborators, who can review it, propose change and ultimately sign off. Creators can also invite their attorneys to review/edit the documents they have created, if they wish to. You can also take the ownership data from your agreements and use it to create U.S. Copyright Office registrations, which Coysnd files on your behalf quickly and easily.  Our team has experienced all of the negative issues that occur when copyright ownership isn’t documented, including the high costs.

For us, it was really important to build something that would allow people to protect themselves in a simple and affordable way that was completely approachable.

Why is it necessary to copyright artistic material?
We always say that registering your copyrights is like insuring your music. The minute you have created something you have certain rights as a copyright holder, but you can’t protect or enforce those rights unless you’ve registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. That process can often take months, but once it has been completed, you’re entitled to a host of benefits. The most important is the ability to file lawsuits (and receive $150,000 per willful infringement).

If you’ve created something with other collaborators, by default everyone has an equal claim to the same rights, royalties, and responsibilities regardless of what their contribution was. Having these copyright ownership agreements in place ensures that these critical things – rights, revenue, responsibilities – are allocated to each collaborator appropriately.

Jessica Sobhraj, Cosynd Founder and CEO
Cosynd Founder and CEO Jessica Sobhraj. Photo credit: Julienne Schaer

Artists are always on the go—from gig to gig and, often, one or more part-time jobs. How have you incorporated the “artist’s lifestyle” into your pursuit of process efficiency?
It all comes down to speed and efficiency. So, knowing the ins and outs of how to copyright your music or keeping up with all of the changes at the Copyright Office isn’t really the main focus of the average creator. People rarely have time to keep up with those nuances.

Cosynd’s process automatically eliminates the most common mistakes that people make when registering their copyrights. We break down every step of the process because we want to make sure we’re gathering the critical information we need to get that registration done quickly. It’s important to understand why you’re registering, how that benefits you, and what some of these key terms and concepts mean. That’s why there are so many help tools and tips on the platform as well as a knowledge base of over one hundred of articles and how-to guides.

It also comes down to having a streamlined process and designs that are intuitive. I credit that entirely to Cassidy Williams, our Chief Product Officer, and Leo Larkpor, our Chief Technical Officer. All of us know the limited time an artist has to get through everything they need to get through, so if we can make it easy, affordable, and secure protection in just a few minutes, that is what we want to do.

We constantly get emails from artists saying, ‘Thank you for doing this. This was so, so easy.’

Any success stories you can share from artists who’ve used Cosynd?
One of our creators had their song sampled by a really well-known, major label artist, without his permission. Actually, the major artist directly asked our creator for permission and was denied. This major label artist did it anyway and sold 100,000 copies of that song that contained the sample. Our creator had a hard time finding anyone who would take on the case, because he did not register his song with the U.S. Copyright Office beforehand. As you can imagine, waiting several months for his registration to be approved and the thought of having it denied because of errors was unnerving. So, he came to us. With expedition, he was able to get registered in a matter of five days. He could then file an infringement lawsuit and have a better chance at settling the matter.

One of our other creators was able to do seven copyright registrations back-to-back, two minutes apart. You would be hard-pressed to accomplish that anywhere else. We constantly get emails from artists saying, “Thank you for doing this. This was so, so easy.” Most return to us to create more agreements and to do all of their registrations with us.

Tell us about your own journey. How did you figure out how to build a company, and what’s your advice for other women who want to try it?
The most important thing for us was to surround ourselves with an incredible board of advisers from the onset. We didn’t write a single line of code until the advisory board was in place and it took about a year and a half to get the right team assembled. We’ve been so fortunate to surround ourselves with incredible investors, like WE Venture, NYCEDC and Morgan Stanley too. We’re so grateful to all of them for their support – it makes all the difference in the world.


**The U.S. Copyright Office recently announced a change in its fees. In particular, some common fees are increasing on March 20, 2020. Cosynd has outlined some of these increases here and to off-set them, Cosynd will be providing a discount through May 31 so that artists can register a video, a book, a song or an entire album with the U.S. Copyright Office in minutes for just $25 per application (plus federal filing fees). Click here for more info. 

Allison Stillerman, women.nyc's Associate Project Manager

I’ve been lucky to work with many smart interns over the years and sometimes marvel over how much more together they are than I was at their age. Take Allison Stillerman, women.nyc’s remarkably capable intern—or rather former intern, as she was recently promoted to Associate Project Manager while still an undergrad at Hunter College.

Day to day, she performs an essential role running our salary negotiation partnership, along with anything else we send her way. Sure, Allison is bright, but that alone doesn’t account for her extreme effectiveness. She not only delivers consistently high-quality work, but she gets out ahead of questions and conflicts. What’s more, she’s mastered a practice that usually takes years: keeping problems from ascending the food chain and elevating only what is crucially necessary.

Being an intern can be tough, since it’s frequently one’s first exposure to a professional workplace (and plenty of unprofessional ones too, which require their own set of survival skills.) How did Allison figure it out so quickly? I asked her to share some professional advice. No surprise, it isn’t just for interns.

How have you made work easier for the people you work with?

When I first started at women.nyc, I inherited a lot of spreadsheets about the program, so one thing I did was create an information hub. Now, every piece of information about the workshops exists in one document. By having access to all the information in one place, people won’t need to ask me directly.

One difficulty of being an intern is that it’s almost always part-time. Becoming an indispensable member of a team requires that people can rely on you at all times, even when you are not in the office. By maintaining databases that are both up-to-date and easy to understand, an intern can be an asset whose value extends beyond the hours that they are at their desk.

By sending agendas and lists of questions before every phone call or meeting, interns can keep conversations productive and efficient.

People or tech skills: what’s more important?

Every position I’ve been in, it’s all about people skills. Those skills are how you get the internship or the job, and it’s how you become successful. My work is 100 percent interpersonal because it relies on creating and maintaining relationships to set up events.

Being at women.nyc has taught me a lot about professional people skills. I thought I knew how to write an email, but I’ve sharpened my ability to get to the point without wasting someone’s time. Similarly, by sending agendas and lists of questions before every phone call or meeting, interns can keep conversations productive and efficient.

What have you been able to teach people you work with?

Part of what many interns bring is the perspective of a student. Their voices are more and more relevant today. Having that perspective is valuable because a lot of what we do here at women.nyc is messaging and composing different ways to advertise programs. Every intern brings their own identity to work and should not be afraid to make use of their unique perspective.

Instead of asking ‘What should I do?’ try saying, ‘Here are my ideas. Is this a solid plan?’

How much initiative do you take and how much guidance do you seek?

I am fortunate that I’ve been given a lot of license and a lot of space, but I couldn’t do anything without the guidance of other people. Interns should not be afraid to ask for help, but it’s a good idea to try to solve the problem first.

I get nervous about emailing people who are very high up in an organization. I’ll ask for help with an email, but I take time to write a draft first. Instead of asking “What should I do?” try saying, “Here are my ideas. Is this a solid plan?” By taking a stab at something before asking for help, you signal to your supervisors that you respect their time while establishing yourself as someone with ideas.

Seek out ways to contribute as well as claim ownership of those contributions—not only will you be happier, you’ll be more creative.

What is the biggest mistake an intern can make?

One that I’ve made is not respecting my own work and time. I felt, “I’m lucky to be in this room. I have to be quiet and deferential.” I’ve come to realize that a quiet and deferential employee is not a particularly valuable team member.

Seek out ways to contribute as well as claim ownership of those contributions–not only will you be happier, you’ll be more creative. People will see you’re someone worthy of respect. It’s hard to take that first step and volunteer your thoughts, but it’s the only way to become the person others look to for valuable information. Once you speak up the first time, it’s hard to sit back and be quiet.

How do you make use of downtime?

Optimizing downtime is important, but at the same time, it is not a good idea to constantly request tasks from a supervisor, which creates more work for them. It is the responsibility of the intern to identify productive uses of their time. If there’s downtime, instead of scrolling through your social media, scroll through news websites or the feeds of related organizations.

I frequently discover stories that we might want to repost or highlight on social. Even if we don’t end up sharing those links, my supervisors know that I am engaging proactively to benefit women.nyc. Additionally, having a deeper knowledge of the ecosystem that an organization exists in can help an intern make connections and suggestions.

women.nyc team and NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray at a salary negotiation workshop.
Allison, far right, with NYC’s First Lady Chirlane McCray (third on the right) and the women.nyc team at our first salary negotiation workshop in the Bronx.

How do you balance schoolwork against your internship?

I really enjoy having different parts of my life that are separate. Interns have to be vigilant about differentiating their time for different tasks, since we are often pulled in so many directions at once. As soon as they bleed into one another it becomes very overwhelming.

When I first got my work email on my phone, I was constantly writing emails in the hallways in between my classes. However, I found that those hurried messages contained a lot of mistakes because I wasn’t fully focused. Connectivity is important, so I recommend scanning your emails once or twice a day to see if anything is urgent.

Each learning moment builds up your value as a future employee so that you’re not just working for a paycheck.

What does success look like in an internship?

A successful internship can be a launchpad to a job, whether it’s a promotion within an organization or a position post-graduation. Each day I look back at what I got done, and make a list of what I will accomplish the next day.

Interns should be deliberate about extracting wins that can go on a resume. These might be metrics (X women trained in salary negotiation, X percentage growth in certain areas), but could also be soft skills like conference-call etiquette. Each learning moment builds up your value as a future employee so that you’re not just working for a paycheck.

Biggest coup?

I’m really fortunate that I have a lot of ownership of the salary negotiation program. In partnership with the American Association of University Women, we’ve trained more than 3,000 women to negotiate raises or job offers. I frequently go to our events and meet the people we serve. I’m so proud of the types of resources we’ve been able to provide. I’m most proud of the impact that we have had for women in New York City. We get emails about how valuable the training has been. It’s just so gratifying.

Allison’s portrait by Alex Tutiven. Want to to be women.nyc’s next star intern? We’re hiring—apply here

Jessica Sobhraj, founder of Cosynd.

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announces the selection of Cosynd, a New York based legal platform that is the fastest and most affordable way for creatives and content-driven businesses to protect themselves, as the first investment from WE Venture, the City’s first venture capital consortium designed to support tech start-up companies founded by women and minority entrepreneurs.

Cosynd automates the creation, negotiation and execution of vital contracts that secure copyright ownership, which can then be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Cosynd’s platform is ideal for creators of music, videos, visual art and literature and other forms of media. WE Venture and Morgan Stanley’s investment will help Cosynd improve its technological infrastructure, grow and support new customers and hire additional staff.

Last year, NYCEDC announced the selection of Archer GrayFuture\Perfect VenturesGolden Seeds Venture Fund, WOCstar Fund, and the Multicultural Innovation Lab at Morgan Stanley as partners of WE Venture.

The partners are responsible for identifying NYC-based early stage companies in various sectors and providing capital in partnership with the City to support the companies. EDC will co-invest $10 million alongside $20 million from the venture capital partners for a total amount of $30 million over the next five years.

The WE Venture consortium is part of the City’s women.nyc initiative, which supports women by connecting them with resources and tools, including free expert legal advice, financial assistance, networking and mentorship opportunities. The initiative aims to make New York City the best place in the world for women to succeed. The WE Venture consortium is also part of Women Entrepreneurs NYC, which has worked with over 5,000 women to start and scale their businesses.

Read about our investment in Cosynd on Forbes.

If you’re a high school girl and you want to work in the music business, Sound Thinking NYC was designed for you.

The Sound Thinking NYC summer program is a three-week intensive program designed for students to learn hands-on music-production and leadership skills. Lunch and MetroCards are included–and it’s all for free.

This year, the Sound Thinking NYC summer program will be offered twice: July 6 to July 24 or from July 27 to and August 14.

Deadline to apply for early decision is March 2. Deadline for regular admission is April 1.

Students visit recording studios; learn about new technologies, businesses and platforms that are distributing music over the Internet and beyond; and explore strategies to fulfill goals in life, including career exploration and college readiness.

The summer program is part of a larger initiative to offer NYC high school students a year of free opportunities to learn the tools, technologies, and different career paths that power songs, concerts, theater, and film.

The program is open to current NYC public school students who will be entering 10th, 11th or 12th grade in fall 2020.

Head Engineer Rebecca Huston and Simone Reynolds, a student from the 2018 Sound Thinking NYC Intensive Program, during a field trip to Sunnyvale Music Venue.

Re-tuning the music industry

Just 22.4% of artists, 12.3 % of songwriters and 2% of producers are women, according to a report from USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

The program launched in 2018 and is a project of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and Creative Arts Team at City University of New York (CUNY), in partnership with NY is Music, a coalition of music industry leaders.

“Sound Thinking NYC is part of a series of MOME initiatives that focus on increasing opportunities in the music industry for underrepresented groups, particularly women,” said Shira Gans, Senior Executive Director, Policy and Programs, at MOME. “The program empowers young people as they explore how to turn their passion for music into a possible profession in New York City’s thriving music industry, giving them hands-on experience and access to experts in the field.”

Sound Thinking NYC meets on West 31st Street in Manhattan, but there are field trips to museums, music-management companies and other industry venues throughout the city. (Previous field trips included sites like MonoLisa Studios, Downtown Music Publishing, and the National Jazz Museum of Harlem, among other locations.)

“I was able to not only learn about music production and its many steps but to see a future in music for myself, as well.” –Jasmine Bota

Experts show students what it takes to design sound for concerts and theater and how to record and produce music using Pro Tools. Women who are leaders in the industry also meet with students to talk to them about careers in entertainment law, marketing, and other jobs in the music business.

Pros who’ve participated in the program include leaders like Carletta F. Higginson, head of music publishing business development at YouTube & Google Play Music; Molly Neuman, head of business development at Songtrust; and Binta Niambi Brown, CEO & Founder of Fermata Entertainment, Ltd./Big Mouth Records, LLC.

“Sound Thinking has completely changed the way I view the music industry,” said Jasmine Bota, a high school junior from Staten Island who completed in the program’s pilot session last summer. “I was able to not only learn about music production and its many steps but to see a future in music for myself, as well.”

Sound Thinking NYC trains girls at keyboards and mixing boards to get skills needed to work in different music-industry jobs.

More free workshops 

When summer ends, Sound Thinking NYC hosts free workshops throughout the school year. Girls who attend both become eligible for paid internships at music venues like MonoLisa Studios and Brooklyn College’s Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema.

In addition, Sound Thinking and CUNY offer Introduction to Music Technology, a free college-credit course for high school juniors or seniors. (The program is made possible in partnership with the Feirstein Graduate School.)

“New York City is a music Mecca. We have a lot of talent that’s come out of the NYC scene,” says Sound Thinking NYC Program Director Ah-Keisha McCants. “Our students are incredibly talented and forward-thinking. The work they’ll create will be amazing additions to the musical landscape we have now, whether they’re on stage or behind the scenes.”

Photos by Krista Fogle of the Creative Arts Team, CUNY

Don’t miss out! Keep up with the latest opportunities for women on Instagram @women_nyc.