This week, a group of nonprofits and resource centers in Maryland announced an initiative to help the state’s founders showcase the work of its immigrant population.
The Uniting for Entrepreneurship in Maryland (U4EM) program is currently on the hunt for 21 entrepreneurs to comprise its first cohort. Through the nine-month program, founders will develop and implement a project to support local businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as showcase the economic contributions of immigrants throughout the state. Urban Rural Action (URA) teamed up with the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center, the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) and the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland to create the program and assist founders.
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University will be supporting the program financially. Each project will receive a budget of $1,000 to help with execution.
Program co-director Anne Choi said that tackling the most pressing challenges of today requires collaboration, which is why Urban Rural Action wanted to create the program.
“We’ve worked in Maryland since 2020, and we’ve found that the economy is a great issue through which to advance relationship-building and collaboration across ideological, racial, generational and geographic differences,” Choi told Technical.ly via email. “One of URA’s core values is finding strength in difference, so this program will allow folks to collaborate across lines of differences.”
The program seeks founders from the Baltimore, Maryland metro area, as well as DC-adjacent Prince George’s County and Talbot County on the Eastern Shore. Programming begins this year on March 18 in Easton, the seat of Talbot County, and ends in Prince George’s County on Nov. 11. Throughout that period, cohort founders will regularly gather in person to build relationships and seek advice on their projects. According to URA, the program is seeking founders with a range of national origins, ideologies, ages and racial identities.
In each county, cohort founders will design and implement a project with one of the three community partners. Each project will take a closer look at an entrepreneurship challenge, which will be identified by the group, and assist with one of the goals put forward by the partner organizations. The program has four phases spread out over the nine months.
“Supporting the U4EM program is important because successful businesses need both human and financial capital,” said program co-director Assaati Ahmad in a statement. “Immigrants working with non-immigrants helps facilitate cultural and innovation exchange that leads to more jobs and increased economic wealth for the country.”
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