We help create an economy where every citizen has the opportunity for upward mobility and increased security, and is motivated to achieve their goals.
Strategic areas of focus: A Healthy Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Opportunity to Grow
As a community on the rise, building a nationally recognized economy, we ask the question “can a diverse population live and thrive in Fort Wayne?” By collecting data, talking to the community, creating a plan, and taking action, we can work at a systems level of change for the upward mobility of everyone to reach their full economic potential. Below is a sample of what we achieve when we marry the generosity of our donors with the hard work of our community partners. With your help, we can do more.
What We’re Doing:
- A healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem is described as the complex interplay between six core areas: policy, finance, culture, supports, human capital, and markets. We lead and helped to fund the first Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Study for our community to be included in the five-year Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. economic development plan.
- Support of and creation of a fund for Project Activate Southeast (P.A.S.E.). Led by Councilwoman Sharon Tucker, this pitch competition is designed to engage and empower entrepreneurs to locate their service-based businesses in the Southeast quadrant of Fort Wayne.
- Funding and support of a local nonprofit Development Fund to create economic opportunities for communities, families, and individuals who lack access to affordable capital and financial services. This Fund was used to lend to entrepreneurs and small business owners who need access to capital and who often do not qualify due to tight lending requirements.
- Funding and support for Startup Week Fort Wayne featuring Paul Singh, focusing on entrepreneur growth and investment beyond the nation’s coasts.
People thrive when their pay is fair and equitable with consistent wages; have workplace policies that support them, and diversified career opportunities and the ability for growth. We believe in empowering everyone to reach their full economic potential, which is one of the most powerful ways to fight poverty. Here’s what we’re doing:
- Through the Women’s Fund of Greater Fort Wayne, we are establishing a suite of tools employers can use aimed at helping attract and retain low-wage talent. We know that by supporting employers and HR professionals in this, we are helping to elevate these low-wage employees within companies who are disproportionately women and people of color.
- In 2020, we established the Artist Relief Fund to support individuals who lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included artists of all disciplines.
- In 2020, in partnership with a local philanthropic family, we established and disseminated dollars to help local restaurants stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Long-time support of local workforce development and placement programs that utilize innovative approaches to employment, providing personal and professional skills to find long-term careers.
We know that, historically, the underserved within communities have less opportunity for economic mobility. When everyone has access to financial funding opportunities and education to manage their money responsibly, whether that be loans for housing, starting their own business, or affordable childcare, we raise the economics of our community. We’ve helped by:
- Engaging CDFI Friendly America to assess our community’s access to banking and loan opportunities with the intention of helping to establish more to support our community. CDFI’s measure success by focusing on the “double bottom line:” economic gains and the contributions they make to the local community. CDFI’s rebuild businesses, housing, voluntary organizations, and services are central to revitalizing a community’s poor and working-class neighborhoods.
622 Entrepreneurs’ voices amplified representing 702 businesses in the Ecosystem Study
10 Employers piloting policies to attract and retain their female and low-wage employees
106 Artists helped through individual grants for COVID relief with a distribution total of $110k
$500k Supporting local restaurants and food trucks for COVID relief