Future Founders Selected for Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Grant

Future Founders was selected by ChicagoNEXT, World Business Chicago (WBC), and the Blackstone Charitable Fund to join a cohort of organizations who will receive grant funding from the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge. The Blackstone Challenge is a three-year pilot program awarding up to $3 million to innovative organizations that effectively support diverse entrepreneurs and scale startups in the Chicago area.

From nearly 50 applicants, Future Founders was selected as one of eight organizations to receive funding from Blackstone to advance entrepreneurship in underserved communities, including communities of color, women, veterans and immigrants.

“We are honored to receive a $125,000 grant and partner with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, World Business Chicago and the City of Chicago,” said Scott Issen, President & CEO, Future Founders. “This partnership will allow us to scale our work of supporting diverse millennial entrepreneurs, providing them with the resources they need to create sustainable businesses.”

With Blackstone’s support, Future Founders will launch a program that will engage aspiring diverse millennial entrepreneurs at scale and funnel the highest potential ones into an intensive cohort focused on venture development. Participating entrepreneurs will join this Chicago Cohort and benefit from goal setting, mentoring by seasoned entrepreneurs, training workshops, peer-to-peer support, and a startup stipend.

“The grant will allow us to magnify the impact we’ve had with millennial entrepreneurs and add credibility to Future Founders as the community for young, diverse entrepreneurs to go when they want to create successful businesses,” said Issen. “We will model the Chicago Cohort off our National Fellowship, through which our 2015 and 2016 alumni created 44 full-time jobs, 93 part-time jobs, raised $1.3 million in outside capital and generated $3.4 million in revenue in 2016.”

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has partnered with ChicagoNEXT to operate the pilot initiative and manage the grantees.

“Future Founders was selected as part of the inaugural Blackstone Challenge cohort for their innovative work providing underserved communities with vital resources that foster inclusive growth in Chicago,” said ChicagoNEXT Director of Inclusive Entrepreneurship Jimmy Odom. “Supporting diverse communities and startups will allow for greater growth in the broader Chicago entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Blackstone Challenge cohort members will also have access to resources and opportunities provided by Blackstone, the ChicagoNEXT Inclusive Entrepreneurship Leadership Council and Chicago’s broader entrepreneurial ecosystem to maximize the impact of the investments. The three-year cohort program will officially launch in July 2017.

About Future Founders
Future Founders is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that believes every youth can become an entrepreneur. We immerse youth in experiences that inspire and empower them to create their own opportunity. We believe this leads to a generation more determined, hopeful and equipped as they engage the future. Since 2005, our programs have served over 33,000 youth. Over 80% of our student alumni believe they can become entrepreneurs. Join us as we empower the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs.

About World Business Chicago and ChicagoNEXT
World Business Chicago is a public-private, non-profit partnership that drives inclusive economic growth and job creation, supports business, and promotes Chicago as a leading global city.
Chaired by Mark Tebbe, ChicagoNEXT leads WBC’s dedicated effort to drive growth and opportunity for Chicago’s tech economy through a portfolio of initiatives and programs governed by a council of technology leaders. With the mission to grow Chicago’s vibrant tech ecosystem, ChicagoNEXT strategic focus areas include industry, talent, capital and community.

About the Blackstone Charitable Foundation
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s initial public offering in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas hardest hit by the global economic crisis. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities.