February 2023

Spectrum News: J.P. Morgan Chase announces plan to invest millions into Columbus Black woman owned businesses

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — According to the American Express Woman Owned Business Report, Black women are the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs in the U.S.

Tonya Kelly is a mom and fourth-grade teacher in Columbus. She started Empower Our Youth Foundation a few years ago, after her two daughters experienced bullying in school. She had a problem she wanted to address, but struggled to get the capital and resources to make her nonprofit an active solution.

“I didn’t know what to say,” said Kelly. “I didn’t know what rooms to be in. I didn’t know where to go, and so the Incubate Her initiative incubated me to actually go outside of my comfort zone and learn and be in these spaces that I only dreamed about.”

Kelly joined Incubate Her in order to gain resources and education on how to start and fund a business. That program became the Accelerate Her Initiative, which is a collaboration between the Columbus Urban League and J.P. Morgan Chase.

“It’s meant to empower women with the technical assistance, which is all the educational components that they need as entrepreneurs and small business owners along with the access to the capital to take their ideas and make them real,” said Courtney Falato, Vice President for Global Philanthropy at J.P. Morgan Chase.

The bank is investing $3 million over the next three years as part of an annual competition to source the innovative ideas of 100 Black women.

Kelly said that this program will give Black women the platform and expertise to reach new heights.

“Women out here that flourish like all these small business owners, all we need is just one chance, one chance to make a difference,” said Kelly. “That’s why I say it’s a game changer.”

Applications will be available in the coming months through the Columbus Urban League.

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