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Founders First CDC is a not-for-profit small business growth and funding readiness accelerator program.

Through four (4) strategy-focused workshops and meaningful mentorship, the Chicago Challenge 2021 Program educates small businesses on how to scale their business, improve their business financial health, and become job creators.

The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) supports this program as partner.

The program culminates with a pitch & graduation day where cash & service prizes are awarded to the top growth plan presentations, along with the opportunity to network with potential investors and partners.

  • Post-program support is included for all graduates.
  • Deadline to apply: 5/17/2021
  • Workshop dates: 5/25, 6/8, 6/22, 7/6
  • Location: Zoom
  • Duration: 60 days (bi-weekly workshops & pitch event is on 7/20/21)
  • Ideal candidate: Small businesses with annual revenues of $50K – $250K
  • All IHCC referrals will receive the $250 discounted tuition fee (*Retail: $500)!

Workshop Highlights

  1. Spot Growth Opportunities: How to spot growth opportunities and identify which can maximize your revenue gains. Converting opportunities into action.
  2. Leverage Your Strengths: How to leverage your strength to choose strategies to make growth happen and surpass your competition. Doing the right things, not just doing things right.
  3. Secrets of Leadership: Secrets of Leadership toward attracting and retaining talent. How to build a high performing team and empower your organization. Identifying and recruiting new partners, resource providers as “stakeholders.”
  4. Your Business Story: Ways to tell your business story to win new customers, key partners, talent and funders while keeping your personal and professional “edge”.

Tuition & Scholarship Opportunity

The tuition is $5,600 US ($250-$500 if qualified for a scholarship), per company (CEO and key team member). If you have a USA-based business with at least $50,000 of annual revenues, and qualify in one of the below categories, you may be eligible for a premium wage Job Creators Scholarship. Special considerations for:

  • Woman-owned business,
  • People of color,
  • Military Veterans,
  • Membership in participating business organization,
  • Located in a low to moderate income (LMI) area
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