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JPMorgan Chase pledges $250,000 toward diverse entrepreneurship

Ashley Morales



Photo: Pinellas Community Foundation.

An initiative to aid minority entrepreneurs and small business owners in Tampa Bay has received support from a Fortune 100 company.

Pinellas Community Foundation received a commitment of $250,000 from JPMorgan Chase to support its “Diverse Ventures” program, which borrows from national models of success in entrepreneurial support to help serve minority and underserved business owners throughout Tampa Bay. Pinellas Community Foundation is a charitable foundation with a mission of enhancing the quality of life for all Pinellas County residents.

According to Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF), the two-year commitment from JPMorgan Chase will help PCF forge connections among grassroots organizations that support minority entrepreneurs, building upon work done by PCF through its Social Opportunity Works Fund, which helped small businesses and minority businesses during the pandemic.

“Most of the philanthropic capital awarded by JPMorgan Chase will be strategically invested to help nonprofit organizations that work with minority business owners build their capacity,” said Duggan Cooley, CEO of Pinellas Community Foundation, in a prepared statement. “Together, we aim to strengthen the regional ecosystem of small business support and make it more accessible for all.”

The United Nations defines capacity-building as the process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, abilities, processes and resources that organizations and communities need to survive, adapt and thrive in a fast-changing world. PCF aims to use its Diverse Ventures program to enhance and diversify the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and help more Black and minority business owners access the training, resources and capital they need to prosper. 

“This support from JP Morgan Chase will help organizations that are already working effectively with minority entrepreneurs to build their capacity,” said Karen Chassin, Executive Director Emeritus of the St. Petersburg Foundation and consultant to the Diverse Ventures initiative. “It will also give us the opportunity to learn from other communities about ways to improve the overall business support ecosystem when it comes to helping business owners from under-represented groups.” 

According to a report by the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility, the median white family wealth is more than 10 times that of the median Black family. Research shows entrepreneurship and business ownership, particularly community-based businesses, can be an important factor in building wealth for business owners and closing racial wealth gaps.

In St. Petersburg, research and advocacy group One Community found that while 14% of businesses in the Sunshine City were Black-owned, they accounted for only 1% of business revenue. As prices throughout the country continue to rise, minorities can also be disproportionately affected. A study from the JPMorgan Chase Institute found Black-owned and Hispanic-owned businesses may be disproportionally affected during economic downturns.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of any community – Tampa Bay is no exception,” said Maria Escorcia, Southeast Region Executive of Global Philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase, in a statement to the Catalyst. “Often, small business owners lack access to the resources they need to prosper and become more resilient to changing economic conditions. This often impacts minority-owned businesses more significantly. Our 5,000+ employees in Tampa visit and buy from these small businesses – we’d like to help them grow and thrive. By building capacity for diverse-owned startups and small businesses in Pinellas County, we hope to help more small businesses access the training, resources, and capital they need to make the Tampa Bay region prosper.”

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