Founders First CDC, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that empowers expansion in diverse founder-led, revenue-generating businesses, announced the grant finalists of the second iteration of its Job Creators Quest Grant today during a virtual press conference. More than 2,500 Texas businesses applied for the grants and 30 finalists were selected, with minority and underrepresented business owners receiving $100,000, collectively in cash and full tuition scholarships to a Founders First CDC Business Accelerator Program. The grant finalists were selected from throughout the state, including Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio, serving a variety of industries – from construction and manufacturing to STEM and healthcare, to hospitality, and more.
To be eligible for the Job Creators Quest Grant, business founder must be a person of color, indigenous, LGBTQIA+, military veteran, a woman or located in a low to moderate income area and be a for-profit company with annual revenues between $100,000 to $3 million. Grant finalists will use the funds to help create and add 1-2 net new premium wage jobs in the next 12 months.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, small businesses continue to face challenges because of COVID-19 and the subsequent economic challenges, including inflation,” said Shaylon Scott, executive director, Founders First CDC. “As the backbone of our economy, it’s critical that these business owners receive the help they need to maintain and sustain operations. We’re honored to offer additional funding to assist in their growth and the overall health of the communities they serve.”
“Connecting minority businesses with the right entities to ensure success, boost economic growth and development is the core of our philosophy,” said Margo Posey, chief executive officer and president, DFW Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC). “Founders First CDC aligns perfectly with our mission, and we’re excited about the opportunities the Job Creators Quest Grant will afford these grant recipients.”
The Job Creators Quest Grant is designed to help business owners create premium wage jobs and reward diverse-led businesses throughout the state of Texas to retain and grow their workforce through the pandemic. This will help to positively impact the local economy, create job opportunities with higher wages and provide the human capital needed for businesses to grow and expand. Launched in early 2021, Founders First has awarded more than $423,000 to minority and underrepresented business owners throughout the United States in Chicago, Southern California, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Texas.
“The road back is a long one for local small businesses hit hard by the pandemic. To recover, grow and thrive, access to capital is critical,” said Michelle Thomas, executive director and head of philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase in Texas. “Chase is honored to be part of this collaboration with Founders First CDC. Together, we will support these entrepreneurs and their mission to expand. Their success is critical to the prosperity of underserved communities.”
“Diverse entrepreneurs are pivotal to the success of their communities, as they provide accessible goods and services, and create jobs. Yet, they oftentimes struggle due to limited access to networks and the financing necessary to stay afloat,” said Patrice R. Green, Interim Director of Inclusive Economies, Surdna Foundation. “Founders First CDC offers a lifeline that will help cultivate a just and equitable economy in which all communities can thrive.”
Funding for this program was facilitated by a $1 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, in conjunction with Founders First CDC Capital Partners’ recent $9 million Series A financing accelerator to support underrepresented entrepreneurs in underserved communities. Additional partners include ADP, Black Enterprise Magazine, JP Morgan Chase, The Kauffman Foundation, African American Chamber of San Antonio, Bank OZK, BCL of Texas, Dallas BUILD Network, Divinc, Dallas Fort Worth MSDC, Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Sesh Coworking, Impact Ventures, ICIC, Houston Hispanic Network, Lift Fund, PeopleFund, Margin Institute, Mogul Millennial, Surdna Foundation, The Common Desk, The DEC, The Mass Challenge, INNW, Veteran Women’s Enterprise Center, Women’s Business Council and Wisdom Consulting.
In addition to announcing the grant finalists of the Job Creators Quest Grant, Founders First CDC also announced a national grant opportunity, the Stephen L. Tadlock Fund, a grant for veteran-owned businesses. Named in honor of the CEO’s brother who passed away in June 2019 and was a US Navy veteran and major small business investor and supporter, the fund will make its first investments in 25 veterans who are running employer-based small businesses. The deadline for application is October 18, and finalists will be announced by this Veteran’s Day, Friday, November 11, 2022.
Founders First CDC is a not-for-profit 501c3 that was founded in 2015 and has received significant support from the regional community reinvestment banks to empower diverse founder-led, revenue-generating small businesses through three primary programs: (1) Founders Challenge; (2) Founders Bootcamp; and (3) Founders FastPath. By building recurring revenues, tech-enablement, and essential solution focus, Founders First serves as a catalyst for positive change to entrepreneurs of color and female founders to become leading employers in their communities. www.foundersfirstcdc.org.