Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Apps are open for this $100K fund and accelerator for underrepresented small biz owners

Founders First's program has grants worth $1,500 to $10,000 available for 30 entrepreneurs in the Greater Philadelphia and New Jersey area.

The 2021 Founders First accelerator cohort for Philly and New Jersey.

(Courtesy photo)

The national nonprofit Founders First, which brings resources to revenue-generating businesses led by underrepresented founders, is setting up shop in the Philly region again this summer.

The org announced it was opening its second Job Creators Quest Grant fund that will dole out $100,000 in grants to help 30 business owners kickstart growth and hire more workers. Those chosen will receive grants between $1,500 and $10,000 and will also automatically be enrolled in one of Founders First’s three accelerator programs, depending on their size and revenue.

Eligible companies are located in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, have a current staff between two and 20 people, and make revenue off a service-based business, with an annual revenue between $100,000 and $3 million. The companies must be founded by an entrepreneur who identifies as a minority, LGBTQIA+ or military veteran, or be located in a low-to-moderate income area. They also must be looking to hire for one to two new jobs in the next year.

“We want to encourage small businesses to apply and have access to resources, but also have that focus on the ability to create jobs,” Founders First Executive Director Shaylon Scott told Technical.ly. “A big part of the mission is to create jobs in the regions we’re in, and also that businesses are revenue builders and we can continue to upbuild them and create premium wage jobs.”

Premium wage jobs are above living wage, and offer benefits that allow the families of workers to flourish and succeed, Scott added — echoing what we’re heard about other regional efforts to boost “life-sustaining jobs.”

The funding for this program was facilitated by a $1 million national grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and ADP, along with Founders First Capital Partners’ recent $9 million Series A, per a press release. JPMorgan Chase and the Kauffman Foundation are also partners in growing the program.

This fund is the second time the 2015-founded nonprofit has served the region: Last year it supported 20 founders in Greater Philadelphia and New Jersey. Previous local grantees include Angela McIver, owner of after-school math program Trapezium Math Club, and Nima Etemadi, co-owner of Fishtown bakery Cake Life.

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“One thing I like to tell people about Founders First is, a lot of resources exist to support small businesses, but the ones we focus on aren’t startups, but ones who have been operating for a while,” Scott said. “It’s the mom and pop businesses that are looking to grow, add employees and scale. We want to see more million-dollar companies led by diverse founders.”

Interested in applying for the fund and accelerator? You can do so through June 13.

Apply here -30-
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