National Nonprofit, Founders First CDC,
Awards $100,000 to Illinois Businesses

Founders First CDC Awards 25 Grants to Minority Businesses Throughout the State to Create and Promote Premium Wage Employment Opportunities in Underserved Communities

Chicago, Illinois | April 5, 2023

Founders First CDC, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that empowers expansion in diverse, founder-led, revenue-generating businesses, announced the winners of its new Job Creators Quest Grant today during a virtual press conference. More than 900m Illinois businesses applied for the grants and 25 recipients were selected, with minority and underrepresented business owners receiving $100,000, collectively in cash and full tuition scholarships to a Founders First CDC Business Accelerator Program. The grant recipients were selected from throughout the state of Illinois, serving a variety of industries – from construction and manufacturing to STEM and healthcare, to hospitality, and more. 

The purpose of the Job Creators Quest Grant is to help business owners create premium wage jobs and reward diverse-led businesses throughout the Southern California regions to retain and grow their workforce through the pandemic. This will help to positively impact the local economy, create job opportunities with higher wages and provide the human capital needed for businesses to grow and expand. 

The recipients of the Chicagoland Job Creators fund includes:

Company Name
Windy City Laundry
Once Upon an RFP
KAE Consultants, Inc. dba CSMI
Atkins Coordination In
baso, Ltd.
Bluberry Technologies Inc
Tonye LLC DBA GiGi Tonye’ Arts & Fitness
KAD Engineering PLLC
The Tidy Queens
Pearl Consulting Group
The Blackberry Collection LLC
Justice Connect LLC
Artesian Collaborative, LLC
CTK Advisors Inc.
Jones Software Corporation
SWE Solutions
The Loop Branding Boutique

The judging committee for the Chicagoland Job Creators Grant includes a panel of our partners and other successful business owners.

To be eligible for the Job Creators Quest Grant, the company’s founder had to be Black, indigenous, a person of color, LGBTQIA+, military veteran, woman or located in a low to moderate income area and be a for-profit company with annual revenues between $100,000 to $3 million. Grant winners will use the funds to help create and add 1-2 net new premium wage jobs in the next 12 months. 

Funding for this program was facilitated by a $1 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, in conjunction with Founders First CDC Capital Partners’ recent $9 million Series A financing accelerator to support underrepresented entrepreneurs in underserved communities. Additional partners include Union Bank, US Bank, Accessity, CMTC, Inland Empire Business Journal, Connect, Small Business Majority, Small Business Finance CDC, We The Plug, Kauffman Foundation, Women’s Business Center, Veterans Chamber of Commerce, Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, Surdna Foundation, Startout, San Diego Imperial Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, JP Morgan Chase, Mission Edge, Stella Labs, City National Bank, Inner City Capital Connections, Southern California SBDC, Accion Opportunity Fund, City of Escondido, Escondido Chamber of Commerce,  San Diego Regional EDC, Southern California Black Chamber of Commerce and many more. 

On a national and global scale, many companies struggled to stay afloat amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, many small businesses that are vital to the communities they serve, were forced to close their doors. With greater availability of the vaccine and resources provided by organizations like Founders First CDC, small businesses are hopeful as they move forward. According to a recent article by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a majority (65 percent) of small business owners are more optimistic that the worst of the pandemic is over, and say that easing COVID-19 restrictions (29 percent) and ramping up vaccinations in their area (28 percent) are the two biggest keys to their success. 


About Founders First CDC 

Founders First CDC is a not-for-profit 501c3 that was founded in 2015 and has received significant support from the regional community reinvestment banks to empower diverse founder-led, revenue-generating small businesses through three primary programs: (1) Founders Challenge; (2) Founders Bootcamp; and (3) Founders FastPath. By building recurring revenues, tech-enablement, and essential solution focus, Founders First serves as a catalyst for positive change to entrepreneurs of color and female founders to become leading employers in their communities.

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