The JPMorgan Chase Foundation committed $150,000 to back the Start Something Challenge - a statewide initiative led by NJ-based non-profit Rising Tide Capital. Also supported by Priceline.com founding member and serial entrepreneur, Jeff Hoffman, the jobs initiative will recruit and support entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses in marginalized communities.
"Chase's support means that we'll be able to provide the resources to help grow businesses in the communities that need them the most," said Alfa Demmellash, co-founder and CEO of Rising Tide Capital.
The Start Something Challenge consists of a statewide start-up pitch competition and small business training program in low-income communities across New Jersey. Additionally, the funding from Chase allows Rising Tide Capital to continue developing its entrepreneurship development services as a model that can be replicated across the United States.
Kim Jasmin, Chase Community Relations Northeast Region Executive noted, "Economic and workforce development is an imperative for our customers, our employees and communities and so we absolutely want to be part of the solution to stimulate economic opportunity."
Since founded in 2004, Rising Tide Capital has awarded tuition waivers to 662 qualified entrepreneurs for its 12-week Community Business Academy. Out of 563 graduates, over 250 have launched and strengthened businesses with assistance from a cadre of Business Acceleration Services including one-on-one coaching and monthly seminars. They've increased business sales, helping raise their median household income by more than 50% within just one year of graduating.
The results have brought national attention to Demmellash, the daughter of an Ethiopian refugee and woman entrepreneur. She has been designated a CNN Hero and recognized by President Barack Obama.
"Imagine if they [Rising Tide Capital] could help 500, or 1,000 or more... all across America. If we empower organizations like these, think about the young people... whose lives we can change, the number of families whose livelihoods we can boost," said Obama in a 2009 White House speech.
Currently modeled in urban communities across northern New Jersey, Demmellash hopes to replicate Rising Tide Capital's programs in other communities of need through funding and awareness raised during the Start Something Challenge. The initiative has gained the support of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Priceline.com founding member Jeff Hoffman, PSEG, Citi Community Development, The Provident Bank, The Star-Ledger, and a variety of community partners.
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