The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has launched a grant program that hopes to fuel business growth among underrepresented entrepreneurs.
As part of the Zero Barriers movement, the Kauffman Foundation is accepting RFPs for Inclusion Open, a grant program that aims to enable champions of underrepresented entrepreneurs to expand their services to topple barriers.
“We know entrepreneurs from many diverse backgrounds face weighty barriers. These barriers impose a high cost to the U.S. economy, in terms of job creation and innovation,” Victor Hwang, vice president of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, said in a release. “For example, minority and female entrepreneurs encounter especially persistent barriers that limit their ability to start and grow companies. Kauffman research has found that if minorities started and owned businesses at the same rate non-minorities do, the United States would have more than 1 million additional employer businesses and approximately 9.5 million more jobs in the economy.”
Inclusion Open will award up to $7 million to programs around the nation with grants ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m., May 2.
The foundation is looking for U.S. nonprofits and for-profit organizations that address direct barriers to disadvantaged entrepreneurs via access to training, capital and mentorship. Barriers can include bias, poverty, declining infrastructure, social isolation and demographic shifts.
“We are looking for organizations with uncommon solutions to level the playing field for entrepreneurs who have been excluded due to demographic, socioeconomic and geographic barriers,” Philip Gaskin, director of Entrepreneurial Communities at the Kauffman Foundation, said in a release. “These could be entrepreneurs who have faced barriers related to their gender, race, age, geography, disability or sexual orientation or their status as veterans or displaced workers.”
The Inclusion Open grant program is a facet of the foundation’s Zero Barriers movement, which was announced during the foundation’s visit to Washington D.C. in February. Along with entrepreneurs and policymakers, Zero Barriers plans to develop solutions that empower more people to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions.