February 2023

Dispatch: Columbus Urban League receives $3 million from JPMorgan Chase for minority entrepreneur program

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By Eric Lagatta

A new initiative headed by the Columbus Urban League to support Black and minority-owned businesses will get a multi-million boost in funding from JPMorgan Chase.

The financial services company announced Wednesday that it is investing $3 million over the next three years in the Columbus Urban League to provide funding for its Accelerate Her initiative. Among other things, the new program aims to provide education, support and access to capital and contracting opportunities for 100 women entrepreneurs and business owners in Greater Columbus.

“The Accelerate Her initiative and the multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment by our partners at JPMorgan Chase will have a rippling and residual impact on the economic empowerment of Black women and a tremendous economic impact on the community as a whole,” said Stephanie Hightower, president and CEO of the Columbus Urban League, in a written statement.

This is the latest of several major donations received in recent years by the Urban League, which advocates and provides resources for Black and urban communities.

In June 2021, Goldman Sachs awarded the Columbus Urban League and the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio $50,000 each for programming as part of its One Million Black Women initiative. That investment was specifically for the Urban League’s Incubate Her program, a 12-week program for 30 Black women hoping to open new businesses or grow their current businesses.

And in November, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, donated $6.5 million to the Columbus Urban League as part of multi-million-dollar gifts to 25 Urban League affiliates.

Hightower indicated at the time that the funds, one of the largest single gifts in the organization’s 105-year history, would be used to build capacity and stabilize programming for the organization, which has an annual budget of nearly $18 million.

JPMorgan’s investment is being awarded as part of its annual competition to fund innovative and sustainable ideas addressing inequity in the United States.

Formerly known as the AdvancingCities Challenge, the competition began in 2018. The concept evolved in 2021 in response to the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women of color.

“The expertise, perspectives and lived experiences of women of color uniquely position them to drive solutions that expand economic opportunity in their communities,” Corinne Burger, the Columbus leader for JPMorgan Chase, said in a written statement. “We at JPMorgan Chase are thrilled to partner with the Columbus Urban League in their ongoing work to lift up Black female entrepreneurs and their businesses here in Columbus.”

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