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The startup resistance: How activists and entrepreneurs are taking on the Trump agenda

Almost two years into the Trump presidency, we profile those startups and organizations that are addressing important issues they feel are being neglected or opposed by the administration: legal immigration, abortion access, student debt forgiveness, climate change, expanding voter access.

The startup resistance: How activists and entrepreneurs are taking on the Trump agenda
[Image: Daniel Salo (illustration), Chelsea Schiff (typography)]

In the aftershock of Donald Trump’s surprise victory in November 2016, many Americans experienced the seven stages of grief, ranging from anger and depression to reconstruction and hope. That manifested itself in a variety of ways, whether it was knitting a pussy hat, marching in a protest, registering to vote, or even running for office. And some resourceful types got to work—coding, developing an app, launching a startup—to address important issues they felt were being neglected or actively opposed by the new administration.

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These entrepreneurs have grown increasingly alarmed by Trump’s agenda on a broad range of issues. In addition to pushing for a border wall and cracking down on undocumented immigrants, the administration has tightened legal immigration, summarily dismissing green card applications and sharply reducing the number of refugees allowed into the country. Trump, who has expressed skepticism about manmade climate change, pulled us out of the Paris climate agreement, and his officials have encouraged coal mining and scrapped incentives for renewable energy production.

The administration has also adopted rules that would bar abortions at facilities receiving federal family planning funds and overturned an Obama-era ban on states defunding abortion providers. Trump’s education secretary has proposed changes that would make it harder for students defrauded by their schools to receive loan forgiveness. And driven by an obsession with the practically nonexistent issue of voter fraud, the administration has encouraged dozens of states seeking to reduce voter access through new restrictions, and the Justice Department recently issued subpoenas demanding millions of records about individual North Carolina voters.

To address these challenges, hundreds of American startups took action, launching tools and products and services that aim to blunt the administration’s agenda and alleviate some of its more damaging policies.

Almost two years after the election, and on the verge of a midterm election that will serve as a verdict on Trump’s presidency, we sought to chart the rise of what we’re calling the Startup Resistance, featuring companies and nonprofits that are helping legal immigrants navigate new hurdles, providing access to abortion providers, easing the burden of college debt, tackling climate change, and getting out the vote. Some of these efforts were launched in the wake of the election; others were already established but have experienced a surge in interest and a new vitality since January 2017.

And they all demonstrate the resolve and ingenuity of the American spirit: entrepreneurs and activists across the country taking on issues that concern them, and coming up with innovative and sometimes groundbreaking ways to help address these crises. As clean-energy startup CEO Greg Robinson told Fast Company: “We can all get mad at what’s going on, or we can all get moving and take action.”

Today’s story in our series focuses on the student loan debt crisis:

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