The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) awarded $5.1 million in grants to 11 organizations under three Agency initiatives—the Entrepreneurship Education for Formerly Incarcerated Persons, the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center, and the Inner-City Innovation Hub programs.
“U.S. Department of Commerce is pleased to support these three important MBDA initiatives as they encourage ingenuity within minority business communities,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “These initiatives joining the national network of MBDA programs bolster innovative resources for minority entrepreneurs and business owners. The recipients of these grants will support minority enterprises and entrepreneurs from coast to coast, and I congratulate each recipient on their well-deserved award.”
“These programs offer another pathway to entrepreneurship, growth, and sustainability,” said David J. Byrd, MBDA National Director. “The Entrepreneurship Education for Formerly Incarcerated Persons is one way to address recidivism, providing tools and training to start a business. The Innovation Hub program will help initiate creative solutions that address challenges in the minority business community. The Enterprising Women of Color Business Centers will add fuel to the economic engine of growth already powered by women of color.”
The programs are two-year initiatives; the grant recipients include:
$1.2 million awarded to the Entrepreneurship Education for Formerly Incarcerated Persons Program:
- Columbia, SC: DESA, Inc. will develop uniquely tailored programs to help resolve identity issues, prioritize expungement options, secure temporary employment, and incorporate one-on-one coaching for entrepreneurship opportunities.
- Los Angeles, CA: Defy Ventures will advance its Entrepreneurship Pathway for Formerly Incarcerated Minorities program, which offers executive mentorship, supportive peers, workshops, and training.
- Baltimore, MD: Morgan State University will implement a three-phase program to provide
options for participants to focus on entrepreneurial training (launch), working with business
advisors to address challenges (sustain), or working with seasoned entrepreneurs on future work
- Birmingham, AL: The Dannon Project will advance their FLEE program-Financial Literacy,
Entrepreneurship and Education- to offer entrepreneurial programs and business coaching as a
pathway to successful community reentry.
$2.5 million awarded to the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center Program:
- Washington, DC: MP Services, LLC will provide unique, specialized training and guidance to
support minority women owned businesses by providing entrepreneurship promotion, including
educational workshops, network opportunities and training sessions.
- Atlanta, GA: Operation HOPE to focus on advancing women of color entrepreneurs in key
growth industries including tech, exports, food service, ecommerce, transportation, and
- Washington, DC: Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. will offer business
development services, including access to its award-winning Ascend Capital Accelerator a
female-focused accelerator that provides 10 to 12 weeks of asset-based development consisting of
an interactive workshop series combined with small group matching and individualized support.
- Metairie, LA: Women’s Business Enterprise Council South to establish cutting-edge trainings,
access to capital assistance, networking, and procurement opportunities especially for minority
women-owned business enterprises.
- Honolulu, HI: Young Women's Christian Association of Oahu will offer one-on-one business
counseling, innovative workshops, and minority certification training offered in safe, nurturing,
and empowering environments.
$ 1.4 million awarded to the Inner-City Innovation Hub Program:
- Atlanta, GA: Georgia Tech Research Corporation will provide access to collaborative
workspaces for minority business owners to convene and connect both to incubators, accelerators,
and co-working spaces. This is in addition to university-focused technology, artificial
intelligence, technology, research, mergers, and acquisitions.
- Houston, TX: William Marsh Rice University to develop the Aerospace Innovation Hub (ASCIHub)
designed to engage, support, develop, and scale regional minority business enterprises that
address needs, problems, and challenges in the aerospace industry.
Print Official Press Release