Founders First CDC Launches $60,000 Job Creators Quest Grant Program

Founders First CDC Launches $60,000 Job Creators Quest Grant Program

Founders First CDC, a nonprofit empowering expansion in diverse founder-led, revenue-generating businesses, announced its Job Creators Quest Grant.

The Job Creators Quest Grant will create premium-wage jobs and reward minority businesses in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Camden, Trenton, and Newark, New Jersey, that have retained and grown their workforce through the pandemic.

Funding for this program was facilitated by a $1 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, in conjunction with Founders First Capital Partners’ recent $9 million Series A financing accelerator to support underrepresented entrepreneurs in underserved communities. Additional support partners include Black Enterprise Magazine, PIDC, Spring Point Partners, The Enterprise Center, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, DiverseForce, Impact PHL, Pennsylvania Chamber for Black Owned Business, Urbane Development, Village Capital, and the New Jersey Small Business Development Center.

Twenty local businesses will each receive a portion of the $60,000 grant.

“This grant program is a way to create success beyond the classroom,” said Shaylon Scott, executive director of Founders First.

“We have observed many founders working more in their business than on their business. Our priority will be to help give entrepreneurs resources to grow while simultaneously becoming premium wage job creators within their community. Investing in diverse entrepreneurs is an impactful way to drive job and wealth creation in underserved communities.” Scott continues, “The Job Creators Quest Grant is more than a dollar amount, it’s a celebration of their success.”

To encourage premium wage job growth, the grants will benefit businesses that have sustained their employee base and will have the ability to add new premium wage jobs in the next year. Diverse founders may be Black, Indigenous, a Person of Color, LGBTQIA+, Military veteran, female, or located in a low- to moderate-income area.

“We are in the beginning stages of optimism for Black entrepreneurs and businesses across the country” says Derek Dingle, EVP & Chief Content Officer for BLACK ENTERPRISE. He continues, “The largest adjustment we are seeing is in the effort to incentivize support staff to return to work. Black Enterprise is excited to collaborate with Founders First to support the creation of jobs with microbusinesses in Philadelphia and New Jersey markets that need the support the most.”

Here are four successful entrepreneurs innovative entrepreneurs who benefited from the Founders First financing/ accelerator model. 

Carter Professional Photo one

Robert Carter, Carter Transportation Group L.L.C.

The Carter Transportation Group provides freight delivery services throughout the United States. The San Diego-based service is offered directly or through a network of national truck freight brokerage companies. Additionally, Carter is a contractor with FedEx Custom Critical providing freight delivery services to customers of FedEx nationwide through its White Glove and Surface Expedited services.

Also, its affiliated company, Carter Transportation Inc., is a FedEx Ground contractor providing general freight expedited service to FedEx customers out of Menomonee Falls, WI. Carter Transportation expects to grow its FedEx Ground business to cover Pick Up and Delivery service in Memphis, TN, and general freight expedited service outside Knoxville, TN.

Sulaiman Rahman

Sulaiman Rahman, DiverseForce

DiverseForce is a Philadelphia-based social enterprise that aims to advance racial diversity in leadership and governance across all sectors by cultivating diverse leadership pipelines and inclusive ecosystems. In 2017 DiverseForce launched DiverseForce On Boards in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, a cohort-based program that trains and matches mid-to-senior level professionals of color to serve effectively on governing boards. DiverseForce also cultivates a talent pipeline that helps connect diverse talent to senior positions.

Since 2018, DiverseForce has helped fill more than 140 nonprofit board seats and helped dozens of organizations source diverse slates of candidates for mid-to-senior level positions. With national partners like PhilanthropiFounders First Capital Partners, and Lendistry, DiverseForce is now expanding its work to launch the P4 Hub, an 11,000 square feet tech-enabled home for public, private, and philanthropic partnerships to scale Black and Brown leadership pipelines that are prepared for the future of work and entrepreneurship.

LaShondra Mercurius

LaShondra Mercurius, JLM Strategic Talent Partners

LaShondra Mercurius started JLM Strategic Talent with her husband and co-founder, Jayson Mercurius. JLM specializes in providing professional talent to the construction, infrastructure, and transportation industries.

JLM helps to shape policies, regulations, manage project talent, and ultimately form staff-related strategies for individual projects. JLM is committed to building strong, mutually rewarding relationships with candidates, client companies, and the communities it serves.

The company offers contracted and for-hire talent and payroll and back-office services, talent management, and consulting. Recent projects JLM was involved in include I-10 High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, the Los Angeles Rams stadium project, and the LAX Automated People Mover.

Michele Courton Brown

Michelle Courton Brown, Quality Interactions

Michelle Courton Brown is an executive board member at Quality Interactions, which was created to improve cross-cultural interactions in healthcare.

Quality Interactions’ pioneering research in cultural competency was put into practice through an initial eLearning program in 2003 and has grown to include more than 25 online courses and comprehensive service packages.

The certified Minority Business Enterprise has trained over 250,000 healthcare professionals at the country’s largest hospitals, health plans, and medical schools. Quality Interactions is exclusively dedicated to providing the best learning experiences for a diverse, inclusive, and culturally competent healthcare workforce.

Applications open July 20 and close August 20.

To apply for the business accelerator program, visit