Within days of securing funding from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Inclusion Open, Determination Incorporated is expanding its team, the nonprofit announced Wednesday.
“We are so thankful to the Kauffman Foundation and excited to announce that Leslie Walton, an experienced entrepreneurial ecosystem builder in KC, is joining the team in support of our mission,” Johnny Waller, Jr., co-founder, said of the growth of the success-after-prison organization.
Click here to learn more about the Inclusion Open and the six Kansas City organizations chosen to receive Kauffman support.
Formerly a project/program coordinator for KCSourceLink for nearly three years, Walton is reuniting with Determination Incorporated co-founder Kyle Smith, former communications coordinator at KCSourceLink.
Committed to Determination Incorporated’s mission, Walton — most recently the founder and CEO of A Cents of Change — will serve as the entrepreneur success manager for the organization.
“I grew up on the east side of Kansas City, in what others would call the ‘hood,’” she recalled. “I’ve seen my entire life the natural-born entrepreneurs in my community who went to prison. Some were legal, others not. Some formal, others less so.”
Through access to resources and pathways to opportunity, anyone can succeed, Walton added.
“Once people make up their mind to succeed and do business the right way: they can do it. We can all assist in that transformation by setting aside labels like ‘felon,’ and giving others the chance to make the most of themselves,” she said in reference to personal experience, watching members of her family struggle with societal reentry.
Walton will work directly with participants in the Rise Up, Get Started grant competition — set to return during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November, which recently launched its application period.
Click here to read about the inaugural showing of Rise Up, Get Started.
Moving the startup ecosystem forward, organizations like Determination Incorporated are why the Inclusion Open was created, explained Melissa Roberts, senior program officer in entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation.
“Entrepreneurship support should be diverse, inclusive and equitable — these grantees are developing programs that will drive systems-level change and move us closer to that goal,” Roberts said.