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BX Challenge supports diverse entrepreneurs in Chicago area

June 08, 2017

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has announced its first cohort of eight organizations in the Chicago-area entrepreneurship challenge. Named the BX Challenge, up to $3 million in grant funding will be provided over three years to innovative organizations that effectively recruit and support diverse entrepreneurs and scale startups in the Chicago area. The selected programs will serve underserved populations, including communities of color, women, veterans, and immigrants. The inaugural cohort includes SSTI member UI Labs, which was awarded $100,000 to create a partnership between City Digital and Colony 5 to help community based start-ups tackle urban challenges and explore ideas on smart city developments through entrepreneurship. Other inaugural cohort awardees include:

  • 1871 - $150,000 to create a project that will digitalize content from its workshops and events, making it accessible to a wider audience of entrepreneurs including underserved communities.
  • Bethel New Life - $100,000 to launch a business and technology program in Chicago’s West Side.
  • Bunker Labs - $150,000 to create a remote, high touch version of the Bunker in a Box platform and help fund the CEOcircle Program, which provides resources to later stage founders.
  • BLUE 1647 - $150,000 to double BLUEINCUBATE, an accelerator offering shared workspace.
  • Future Founders - $125,000 to create a program that fosters the development of businesses led by millennials from underserved populations
  • i.c. stars - $100,000 to expand a three-month lean startup training and incubation program, and to add a pitch night and Idea Hacks.
  • Women’s Business Development Center - $125,000 to expand a program which provides entrepreneurial education, one-on-one support and mentoring in West Rogers Park and South Chicago.

In year one, the organization will focus on deploying strategies to recruit and engage entrepreneurs from the target populations in their programs, which will officially launch in July.

entrepreneurship, inclusion, startups