Women’s Business Development Center Selected for Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Grant

Three-Year Program Will Advance Efforts to Support Diverse Entrepreneurs

The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) was selected by ChicagoNEXT, World Business Chicago (WBC), and the Blackstone Charitable Fund to join a cohort of organizations who will receive grant funding from the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge. The Blackstone Challenge is a three-year pilot program awarding up to $3 million to innovative organizations that effectively support diverse entrepreneurs and scale start-ups in the Chicago area.

Of over fifty applicants, the WBDC was selected as one of eight organizations to receive funding from Blackstone to advance entrepreneurship in underserved communities, including communities of color, women, veterans and immigrants.

“The WBDC is honored to have been selected to participate in the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge,” said the WBDC’s CEO, Emilia DiMenco. “Enhanced technology and innovation are critical for the continued success of the Scale Up program. This funding will enhance the Scalers’ experience and enable us to bring ScaleUp to West Rogers Park and South Chicago.”

The Scale Up program gives small businesses primed for growth in underserved communities the tools to fuel economic growth and strengthen their communities.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has partnered with ChicagoNEXT to operate the pilot initiative and manage the grantees.

“The WBDC has been selected as part of the inaugural Blackstone Challenge cohort for their innovative work providing underserved communities with vital resources that foster inclusive growth in Chicago,” said ChicagoNEXT Director of Inclusive Entrepreneurship Jimmy Odom. “Supporting diverse communities and start-ups will allow for greater growth in the broader Chicago entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Blackstone Challenge cohort members will also have access to resources and opportunities provided by Blackstone, the ChicagoNEXT Inclusive Entrepreneurship Leadership Council and Chicago’s broader entrepreneurial ecosystem to maximize the impact of the investments. The three-year cohort program will officially launch July 2017.

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