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Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth infuses new resources into local small business ecosystem

DECEMBER 17, 2021 — The Community Foundation’s new Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth is pleased to announce its first round of grants, totaling $200,000 to eight organizations. The fund, supported by pooled contributions from the Foundation and individual donors, was created as a complement to the Foundation’s existing workforce strategy, by adding a focus on supporting existing small businesses and individuals with entrepreneurial aspirations. We believe that strengthening small businesses and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region is an imperative as we endeavor to create a community where everyone has access to economic opportunities. 

Over the past year, philanthropy has begun to reimagine its role in supporting small business, recognizing that the quest for economic justice includes creating an environment where small business ownership and entrepreneurship is a viable path for all individuals. Locally, programs that introduce youth to entrepreneurship are being developed and implemented. Additionally, more resources to support existing business owners and entrepreneurs, particularly BIPOC founders, are emerging, which will help these businesses—and the communities in which they operate--achieve sustainability and economic success. 


The emergence of the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth is a key next step in the formalization of opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs in the Richmond Metro Area.  The wide range of programs focused on entrepreneurial education and support currently available, and growing, reinforces both the progress and the potential of RVA, as a hotbed of innovation and small business growth for all.”  

Art Espey, member of the Fund’s Advisory Committee 

Guided by an advisory committee of experienced local entrepreneurs, the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth identified three areas of focus: support for small business owners, entrepreneurial programming for youth, and opportunities to expand and diversify the start-up incubation and acceleration ecosystem.  Through an invitation-only grants process, the first round of grant recipients are listed below. 

2021 Grant Recipients


  • Boys & Girls Club of Metro Richmond – $25,000  
    To support an entrepreneurial program for up to 200 teens who will develop and present their own business ideas.
  • Chesterfield Education Foundation – $20,000 
    To enroll students attending Meadowbrook Academy for Development Entrepreneurs in the VCU Entrepreneurship Program, purchase equipment for the MADE innovation lab, and provide financial assistance to help launch four student businesses.

  • Girls For A Change – $25,000 
    To reimagine the Immersion Lab program by creating a 6-month retail business incubation program for Black high school girls.

  • Jackson Ward Collective Foundation – $25,000 
    To support a grant program for 33 businesses to access technical assistance.

  • LISC – $25,000  
    To provide coaching sessions and technical assistance to 10 BIPOC-owned businesses that received a recoverable grants through the Small Business Capital Access Fund, provided by Altria and Capital One.

  • MBL Foundation – $30,000 
    To increase participation in the Youth Entrepreneurial Program in Richmond and Petersburg Public Schools, which aims to increase student awareness and aspirations to explore business ownership as a potential lifetime career path.

  • Startup Virginia – $25,000 
    To hire an Early Stage Growth Manager for the incubator services program and to expand access to the Entrepreneur Certificate Course.

  • YMCA of Greater Richmond – $25,000 
    To build an entrepreneurial mindset among RPS fourth- and fifth-graders enrolled in the Y’s afterschool program through 12 hours of instruction provided by trained facilitators.  
In the short time since the grants were awarded, the Foundation's staff has met with several donors considering their year end gifts. By sharing updates about our key initiatives and offering ideas where interests align, some donors have been inspired by the work of the grant recipients listed here, resulting in additional contributions to the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth or to organizations directly.

If you wish to support the fund to help increase the number or amount of grants awarded, we welcome you to contact us for more information or you can 
make a donation online through our website. The next round of grants from the Fund for Entrepreneurial Growth will be conducted in the second half of 2022. 

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