International Bank Grants Morehouse College $400K To Support Diverse Founders

Ascend 2020

Even in the forward-thinking tech world, the diversity gap remains. Kauffman research on the state of entrepreneurship shows that entrepreneurs are 80 percent white and more than 64 percent male; companies with all-female founders are at a considerable disadvantage when it comes to funding.

Even in Atlanta, where more than 60 percent of the metro area is non-white, the success stories of African American, Latino/a, and other diverse founders are much fewer in number than they should be. Now, international financial institution JPMorgan Chase has partnered with Morehouse College, one of the pre-eminent HBCU’s in the country, to help tackle this challenge.

JPMorgan will provide a $400,000 grant to the Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center to develop a new program, called Ascend 2020 Atlanta, to help grow minority and women-owned tech companies in Metro Atlanta, specifically in low-income communities.

The Ascend 2020 program is a national movement developed with JP Morgan as part of their Small Business Forward initiative. The curriculum was developed by University of Washington Foster School of Business and is distributed in partnership with local universities through their business schools. The program, currently in place in Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland/San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC, utilizes local organizations in each city to provide education, resources, and tools to small businesses.

“Morehouse is very excited about the potential of this partnership which allows the college to extend our reach and support to minority entrepreneurs here in Atlanta.” said Tiffany Bussey, Director of the Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center. “These engagements afford us the opportunity to build upon our leadership in decreasing the income inequality gap in our communities.”

The Atlanta Ascend 2020 program will partner with nonprofit community lender Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs, Georgia Tech’s ATDC incubator, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and TechSquare Labs, providing an invaluable network for any entrepreneur just starting out.

“Initiatives like Ascend2020 are absolutely vital to the success of founders and the growth of tech ecosystems,” says Jewel Burks, founder of successful Atlanta startup Partpic and a former Google Entreprenur-in-Residence. “I’m incredibly excited this program is launching here in Atlanta, because there are so many under-resourced, yet absolutely brilliant innovators/entrepreneurs who have the capacity to build the next great companies, but just need a little support to fill the gaps.”

Ascend 2020 Atlanta kicks off tonight with an educational session at Tech Square Labs, the incubator, seed fund and co-working space started by veteran entrepreneurs Paul Judge and Allen Nance. In the 3 years since inception, TechSquare Labs has made a specific commitment to supporting diversity in Atlanta’s tech ecosystem by installing Rodney Sampson to head up Inclusion and Equity and launching the CodeStart program, a full-time immersive coding and entrepreneurship training program for underserved young people.

The program will include a Founders Chat with Burks and ConnXus founder Rod Robinson, along with partner sessions so entrepreneurs can learn more about Ascend 2020.

Featured image courtesy of Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center. Inline image courtesy of Rodney Sampson.