The Commons on Champa got $400,000 to bring minority entrepreneurs to tech accelerators

Panelists during A Bigger Tent Summit at the Commons on Champa. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
Panelists during A Bigger Tent Summit at the Commons on Champa. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)
Panelists during a panel on female entrepreneurs at the Commons on Champa. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

The Commons on Champa was one of 12 organizations nationwide to receive a grant from the Kauffman Foundation. The $400,000 Inclusion Challenge grant will be used to to help encourage entrepreneurs of color and women entrepreneurs to start businesses and achieve greater success with their entrepreneurial endeavors.

The Commons on Champa, which offers free and reduced price resources to Colorado entrepreneurs, was one of 12 nonprofits selected from an applicant pool of 376 to receive funding, ranging from $87,000 to $420,000.

“The Commons on Champa was founded to grow Downtown Denver’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and by reducing barriers to entry and supporting entrepreneurs from all walks of life start and grow businesses we are creating a stronger, more integrated entrepreneurial ecosystem in Downtown Denver,” Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, said in a statement.

In the past few years, incubators and accelerators, like Boomtown Accelerator, TechStars and Galvanize have emerged as popular strategies of encouraging entrepreneurial growth in tech. A survey of eight U.S. tech accelerators in 2015-16 found that only 20 percent of businesses supported by these programs were woman-owned and 23 percent were minority owned. Moreover, those businesses had more difficulty raising equity, according to a study by JPMorgan Chase.

Grant programs, like the Inclusion Challenge, are designed to address barriers to female and minority participation, including recruitment, selection biases, program design, and culture, and to encourage specific practices to encourage inclusiveness.

The Commons on Champa will work toward this end by using its funding to launch a free “Entrepreneurial Journey” accelerator program. The track-based program will run quarterly with the intention of reaching hundreds of new citizens, people of color, veterans and women.

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at caiello@denverite.com or twitter.com/chlobo_ilo.

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