The program will total $100,000 and be awarded to 30 minority and underrepresented businesses in the neighboring northeast states. Grant recipients will also receive a scholarship to a business accelerator program that includes leadership coaching and continuous business education.
To qualify for the Job Creators quest grant, businesses must have between two and 20 employees, be a service-based business, and be a for-profit company with annual revenue between $100,000 and $3 million.
The business must also be founded by an entrepreneur who identifies as a minority, a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, a military veteran, or is located in a low- to moderate-income area.
Each grant will range between $1,500 and $10,000 And will include a guaranteed spot in one of the Founders First accelerator programs. Recipients will be chosen based on their ability to maintain and grow their workforce and their commitment to creating premium wage jobs in their communities. In the past, funding has supported a wide range of businesses, including a transportation company and a high-tech human capital solutions group.
“Although Pennsylvania and New Jersey are two different states with unique stories to tell, their entrepreneurs are bound by the gritty determination needed to overcome challenges in business and life,” Shaylon Scott, executive director of Founders First, said in a release. “We’re proud to return to both markets in an effort to build long-term relationships and support the ambitious leaders who are inspiring their communities.”
Funding for this program was facilitated by a $1 million national grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and ADP in conjunction with Founders First Capital Partners’ recent $9 million series A financing accelerator supporting under-represented entrepreneurs and underserved communities across the country. JPMorgan Chase and the Kauffman Foundation are also partners in growing the program at the national level.
Additional national and regional partners include Black Enterprise, Spring Point, PIDC, The Enterprise Center, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, ImpactPHL, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey SBDC, 76Forward, University City Science Center, Juno Capital, the Temple University Small Business Development Center, Village Capital, West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative, Philly Startup Leaders, and Technical.ly.
Here are three successful, innovative entrepreneurs who benefited from the Founders First financing/ accelerator model.
Angela McIver, Trapezium Math
Trapezium is an online math enrichment program dedicated to increasing the number of children who leave elementary school prepared to succeed in the most rigorous math programs in middle school and beyond.
Trapezium has spent more than a decade developing content aimed at building confident, fearless math learners and teachers at the elementary level. Trapezium is unlike one-on-one math tutoring because it addresses the whole learner through collaborative problem solving and team-building, including differentiated instruction, automaticity, instruction to mastery, and “technology-free” activities and lessons.
IyaSokoya Karade aka Coach Iya, Athletic Arts Academy
The Athletic Arts Academy (A3) is a fully equipped Olympic-styled, 10,500 square foot youth fitness center serving children age 2+, beginner to competitive levels, located in Orange, New Jersey.
A3’s youth training programs include gymnastics, figure skating, and dance. During the coronavirus pandemic, Coach Iya established the A3 Gymnastics Child Care Center L.L.C., a state-licensed program providing remote/virtual learning support and after-school care for school-aged children ages 6 thru 12.
Coach Iya’s professional gymnastics life began in 2000 as a substitute instructor during her daughters’ classes. Seeing a deficiency in safe, developmental, recreational programs in her home area, she opened her first gymnastics school, Karade Gymnastics School, in 2005. Subsequently, A3 in 2014.
Al-Nesha Jones, ASE Group
Al-Nesha Jones founded the ASE Group in 2016 to help individuals and business owners protect what’s most important to them through tax compliance, minimization of tax liabilities, sound record-keeping, and adequate insurance.
The ASE Group is a unique full-service accounting, tax, and advisory firm focused on empowering small business owners to build strong and sustainable businesses. ASE Group specializes in making the dollars make sense through solid recordkeeping, proactive tax planning, tax preparation, and year-round advisory support for entrepreneurs in the NJ/NY/CT/PA area.
ASE’s plans include launching a DIY bookkeeping course bundled with the support of an online community and CPA oversight. The course is being created for new business owners who understand the importance of sound financial recordkeeping but currently lack the resources to outsource their bookkeeping and advisory functions.
Annie Sneed-Godfrey, Water Works Laundromat
Located in Newark, New Jersey, Water Works Laundromat has provided laundry services to residents and businesses throughout Essex, Hudson, and Union counties since 2007.
The laundromat is owned by Annie Sneed-Godfrey and her husband, both proud graduates of Westside High School and Rutgers University, and are trained, corporate executives. Last April, Sneed-Godfrey and her husband opened Smart Sudz Laundromat, Their second state-of-the-art laundry facility.