JPMorgan Chase Announces $2.5 Million Expansion of Ascend 2020 to Support Minority-Owned Small Businesses
Program connects underserved entrepreneurs with capital, supplier diversity opportunities and business education resources. Since late 2016, Ascend 2020 has helped 140 businesses secure $8 million in contracts and new capital
JPMorgan Chase today announced today a $2.5 million expansion of the Ascend 2020 program supporting minority-owned small businesses over the next three years, taking it from six U.S. cities to 10. The expansion of Ascend 2020, headquartered at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, will also formalize business education, consulting services, and partnerships with anchor institutions that are committed to increasing spending with minority-owned firms over the next three years.
According to Ascend 2020, the median white-owned small business has revenue 1.5 times larger than the median Latino-owned company and five times larger than the median African-American owned firm. Ascend 2020 connects minority entrepreneurs to business schools, suppliers and community partners to improve access to the 3-Ms: management strength (through business education), markets (business-to-business and consumers), and money (seed capital, flexible credit and equity investment).
“Ascend 2020 is a model for supporting minority-owned small business that is working, and we are excited to be driving inclusive economic growth by bringing it to other U.S. cities,” said Peter Scher, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility, JPMorgan Chase. “By joining forces with the University of Washington, we’re improving minority-owned businesses access to the capital, education and new clients they need to thrive.”
Ascend 2020 is currently active in six cities (Atlanta, the Bay Area, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C.) as part of JPMorgan Chase’s $150 million Small Business Forward program to help women, minority and veteran entrepreneurs. Since the program’s launch in late 2016, Ascend 2020 has helped 140 businesses earn a total of $8 million in investments, which includes $5 million in contracts and $3 million in new capital.
“The fundamental issue we’re dealing with is the wealth gap in the United States and the impact it has on our nation’s economy,” said Michael Verchot, Executive Director of the Consulting and Business Development Center at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. “I’m excited to partner with JPMorgan Chase to build a national network of people and organizations, who are working to address systemic challenges by creating new opportunities that enable minority business owners to grow and thrive.”
“We are delighted to learn of this partnership between the UW, ranked as one of the top 10 most innovative universities in the world, and JPMorgan Chase, a valued partner to OED in our shared vision for shared prosperity and economic mobility and inclusion,” said Rebecca Lovell, Acting Director of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development. “Equitable career opportunities and entrepreneurship are critical tools in generating and retaining wealth in every community across the City. We applaud JPMorgan Chase’s role in amplifying the support Ascend 2020 provides to minority-owned businesses.”
JPMorgan Chase recently doubled the size of Small Business Forward from $75 million to $150 million as part of a $20 billion, five-year U.S. investment that increasing the firm’s small business lending commitment and community investments to drive inclusive economic growth.
Ascend 2020’s National Support for Entrepreneurs
In addition to today’s announcement in Seattle, JPMorgan Chase also announced a $100,000 planning grant to help support entrepreneurs in Long Island, New York, the first of the four new cities to be announced as part of Ascend 2020. The Long Island Ascend program will be run by Hofstra’s National Center for Suburban Studies to support small business expansion in suburban communities where their research shows a growing numbers of immigrants and displaced city residents now live.
On March 29, Morehouse College in Atlanta also held its first Ascend 2020 Demo Day for the first group entrepreneurs to go through this program. Seventeen business owners had an opportunity to pitch their companies, share product demos and network with key leaders in Atlanta's growing tech ecosystem.
Supporting Minority Entrepreneurs
The Ascend2020 expansion applies insights from JPMorgan Chase’s efforts to support minority-owned small businesses in Detroit and other cities. Two years ago, JPMorgan Chase, along with W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Detroit Development Fund, created a $6.5 million Entrepreneurs of Color Fund in Detroit to provide minority-owned small businesses with access to capital and technical assistance as part of the firm’s $150 million investment in Detroit’s economic recovery. In December 2017, JPMorgan Chase and partners announced the Detroit fund would triple in size to more than $18 million due to the fund’s initial success, improving economic conditions in the city and strong collaboration between civic, business and nonprofit leadership.
Since its launch, this Detroit fund has lent or approved $4.7 million to 45 minority small businesses, resulting in more than 600 new or preserved jobs. Fifty-three percent of the loans are supporting minority women-owned businesses and nearly three-quarters (70 percent) of the loans have supported small businesses based in Detroit neighborhoods.
In February, JPMorgan Chase announced it was expanding the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund model to San Francisco and South Bronx, combining its philanthropy and business expertise to help provide underserved entrepreneurs with access to the capital they need to grow, create jobs and drive local economic growth. The new funds will provide underlying capital for community lending partners to make loans and provide technical assistance and personalized servicing. These entrepreneurs are typically unable to qualify for traditional loans, often due to previous credit challenges, limited financial collateral, short business history or informal businesses practices.
Small businesses are key drivers of growth, and that growth is fastest among minority and women entrepreneurs. A 2016 study by the Institute for a Competitive Inner City shows that small businesses in large cities account for a majority of jobs, but that number is even bigger in inner city areas. In Detroit, small businesses accounted for half of jobs within city limits—that number jumps to two-thirds of jobs in Detroit’s inner city neighborhoods. That same report also found that a modest increase in the number of jobs created by existing small businesses could create enough employment opportunities for all currently unemployed inner city residents.