ASTRSK PR Opens Applications For Its Seventh Annual Pro Bono Client

by | Apr 25, 2024

Open to BIPOC, AAPI, LGBTQIA+ and/or woman-founded early-stage startups to win a PR contract worth $200K; full-scope PR services from award-winning agency

NEW YORK, NY – April 25, 2024 ASTRSK PR, an award-winning boutique public relations agency known for its work with brands like Match Group, Lemonade, Squarespace, Prime Video and more, today announced the search for its Seventh Annual Pro Bono Public Relations client. The search is open to early-stage consumer-facing startups with less than $1.5 million in funding that are BIPOC, AAPI, LGBTQIA+ and/or woman-founded. The selected winner of the contest will receive one year of public relations services from the full team at ASTRSK PR, valued at over $200,000. To date, ASTRSK has awarded over $1.25 million dollars in pro bono PR services to underrepresented founders and their companies. On a mission to lift the voices of these founders and their companies in the media, ASTRSK is committed to doing its small part in enforcing real change and encouraging inclusivity. 

Founded in 2012 by Elliot Tomaeno, ASTRSK PR believes in helping brands embrace their rebellious sides through non-traditional PR. Standing by the motto ‘Be Weird,’ the agency is known for its bold approach to media relations, strategy, experiential events and more. With a team of progressive thinkers and PR professionals who bring a fresh perspective to communications, ASTRSK is known for helping innovative brands break through the noise. Over the past decade, ASTRSK has too often seen underrepresented founders – as well as brands that support those communities – go without receiving the funding, recognition, press coverage and brand awareness that they deserve. ASTRSK created its pro bono contest as a response to support diverse entrepreneurs who also believe in forging their own way. The agency strives to contribute to a larger movement of supporting underrepresented communities by making a lasting impact and inspiring industry-wide adoption.

To qualify for consideration, applicants must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Founded by a woman and/or a BIPOC, AAPI, LGBTQIA+ person
  • An ‘early stage’ startup that has not raised more than $1.5M in funding
  • A consumer-facing brand (no B2B solutions or offerings)

The pro bono winner is selected by a panel of judges composed of journalists, industry experts and the ASTRSK team. Judges this year include Zhenni Liu, Partner at MaC Venture Capital, Michael Kaye, Director of Brand Marketing and Communications for OkCupid and ARCHER and Adjunct Professor at NYU and Colin Daniels, Digital Editor at Adweek. 

“We like to say that we use our ‘PR forces’ for good here at ASTRSK,” said Elliot Tomaeno, Founder and CEO of ASTRSK PR. “We consistently see fewer women, LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC/AAPI founders when we look at potential new clients and startups that are getting funded, so it’s a priority for us to do what we can to help level the playing field. Our team is made up of folks from these very communities, myself included as an openly gay man, and we want to see ourselves reflected in the clients and brands we work with. I admire our team for their genuine excitement towards bringing well-deserved media attention to a company that might not have a budget for PR yet.”

Throughout the past year, ASTRSK dedicated PR services to Hadley, an innovative fintech app founded by Jewish and LGBTQ entrepreneur, Yosh Miller. Yosh is on a mission to combat the student debt crisis and help more students afford secondary education by unlocking 529 savings accounts for all. 529s are a tax-free education savings account available to all but only utilized by 33% of Americans. Hadley allows family and friends to contribute to a student’s education savings with the touch of a button. ASTRSK was ecstatic to work with the company this past year to shine a light on its important innovation.

“Working with the Astrsk team is a game changer,” said Yosh Miller, founder and CEO, Hadley, ASTRSK’s most recent pro bono client. “ASTRSK helped Hadley devise effective PR strategies to earn media attention for Hadley’s 529 groundbreaking app and financial expertise in business journals, consumer publications, broadcast television and more. Finally, my time with ASTRSK helped me grow into bigger shoes as a first-time founder overseeing an expanding team whose impact has been amplified by our partnership with ASTRSK.” 

Previous winners of ASTRSK’s Pro Bono Public Relations Contest include:

  • 2023: Hadley, an app that matches you with the best 529 plans for your needs and allows friends and family to contribute. 
  • 2022: HairDays, a Black female-founded, AI-powered app revolutionizing hair care. 
  • 2021: Both&, a trans-founded sustainable and ethically designed clothing brand creating garments for transmasculine, GNC-identified and non-binary humans.
  • 2020: Stix, a healthcare company co-founded by women, for women, providing them with the products, education and support they need throughout their health journeys.
  • 2019: Juicebox, a sex tech startup founded by a woman and member of the LGBTQIA+ community, which offers an app that creates a safe place for direct access to personalized and affordable sex and relationship advice as well as coaching.
  • 2018: Beam Impact, a fintech app co-founded by women that is on a mission to turn consumers’ everyday purchases into a way to support social causes.

Applications are now open for founders who qualify to receive one full year of free public relations services from ASTRSK’s team of professionals. Those who are interested in entering can apply hereapplications open April 25, 2024 at 12:01AM EST & close May 5, 2024 at 11:59PM EST.


Founded in 2012 by tech PR veteran Elliot Tomaeno, ASTRSK PR is an award-winning, boutique agency working with innovative, high-growth brands looking to embrace their rebellious sides. Whether a startup or an established industry titan, ASTRSK focuses on telling stories that matter in order to drive the most productive results for its clients. Working with brands such as Lemonade, Squarespace and Prime Video, ASTRSK prides itself on being nimble and fast-paced, pivoting strategy as needed to help achieve its clients’ bottom-line business goals. Its team consists of commensurate hustlers who are as strategically minded as they are creative. From traditional media relations to influencer and event marketing, ASTRSK is a full-service PR agency with a modern, spirited approach. For more information, visit astrskpr.com.

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