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The Community Foundation Blog

Grantees find Common Cause in a Common Space
By Evelyn Rinaldi / November 3, 2023
Grantees find Common Cause in a Common Space

The Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth: Challenge Grant Announced

The Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth is a complement to the Community Foundation's existing workforce strategy to create access to job training, employment opportunities and support systems for residents pursuing upward economic mobility. Through pooled funding, the Foundation and its donors can further strengthen, expand and diversify the region's entrepreneurial community so that more individuals can start and grow businesses of their own.

The Fund has received a challenge grant from Dr. Eric Edwards, Current CEO and co-founder of Phlow Corp, as well as a co-founder of Kaleo, Inc. Both companies are innovative changemakers in the pharmaceutical industry. Edwards will match up to $50,000 for any donations made to this fund through the end of 2023.

Grantees find common cause in a common space

In downtown Richmond, three of the Community Foundation’s grantees - Startup Virginia, Bridging Virginia, and the Metropolitan Business League - now operate under one roof at the Michael Wassmer 1717 Innovation Center.

Together, these organizations have created a  "front door" for the region's entrepreneurial and small business ecosystem, especially for business leaders who are from groups that are typically underrepresented in the space. Among them, they provide technical support, access to capital , and professional connections.

 With a grant from the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth, Bridging Virginia (BVA) and the Metropolitan Business League (MBL) officially launched the Small Business Capital Access Resource Hub last November. Today it serves as a central place to connect women and BIPOC entrepreneurs to affordable capital, technical assistance, and other resources. The Hub has facilitated more than $560,000 in capital to 50 small businesses and over $130,000 in technical assistance. 

In the first half of this year, Startup Virginia served 481 aspiring and current entrepreneurs with its incubator program services, Idea Factory program, and Entrepreneur Certificate Course. Support from the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth helped to provide scholarships to historically underrepresented and early-stage founders, which was reflected in the 80% of participants in the Entrepreneur Certificate Course who self-reported as female and/or BIPOC.

"These organizations demonstrate several of the critical factors we seek as we create our investment portfolio. The foundation prioritizes collaboration, innovation, and sustainability. We value the multiplier effect - together organizations can serve more clients, gather more support, and set the pace for strong outcomes. We look forward to others joining in the creation of the ‘front door’ and feel certain that we have a success story for our community."

- Scott Blackwell,  Chief Community Impact Officer

A meaningful benefit to these nonprofit partners being co-located is the collaboration among them, as they share resources, assistance, and plan events that support the participants, clients, and stakeholders of all three organizations. Furthermore, their leaders have developed a strong peer network, the 1717 Collective, with whom they can problem solve and innovate for continued growth and value in their combined offerings.






See all of the latest grant recipients of the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth –
How Philanthropy Is Bolstering the Region's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

To give to the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth, please visit
Or, if you wish to learn more, please contact Scott Blackwell at

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