City Startup Labs Receives Rockefeller Foundation Grant to Launch Entrepreneurs Academy Pilot

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City Startup Labs, a program designed to teach entrepreneurship to young, African-American men, is launching a pilot with the help of a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

We’re excited by the transformative potential of entrepreneurship, and by the opportunity to help an innovative program move from idea to action.

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City Startup Labs’ mission is to stimulate entrepreneurial activity and innovation within inner-city America. Its initial effort in this regard, is an Entrepreneurs Academy conducted in collaboration with the Urban League of the Central Carolinas in Charlotte, NC. The academy’s primary focus is to teach entrepreneurship to young adult men of color (18-29 yrs.), including ex-offenders and former gang members. According to Dr. Patrick Graham, ULCC President & CEO, “our goal is to ensure that entrepreneurial opportunities don’t escape this creative class of people that have the potential to benefit our community economically and socially.”

The Academy starts with a self-discovery intensive facilitated by New York-based, Youth At-Risk. Student/entrepreneurs will then work through core curricula from the Kauffman Foundation in an accelerated, 15-week boot-camp, including planning, starting and running a new venture. Upon completion of the coursework, the student/entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to have their businesses incubated at Charlotte’s startup hub, Packard Place, and the city’s social-enterprise accelerator, Queen City Forward. Each student will be paired with a mentor and will receive additional coaching and tutoring. Micro-funding will also be available to promising ventures.

“The Rockefeller Foundation is happy to support organizations like City Startup Labs that seek to spur entrepreneurship in communities of color, which are so often under-represented in the current entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Claudia Juech, Rockefeller Foundation managing director for strategic research. “We’re excited by the transformative potential of entrepreneurship, and by the opportunity to help an innovative program move from idea to action.”

City Startup Labs’ Executive Director, Henry Rock says that “this grant is a validation of our mission and will allow this effort to be realized. As a result of the Rockefeller Foundation partnering with us, we anticipate seeing real economic impact, starting in Charlotte and then in other markets, as we roll-out this program in subsequent years.”

The academy pilot is scheduled to launch in mid-January 2014, with a class of 25, at the Urban League’s facilities.

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