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When it comes to closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap, small businesses can be a force multiplier, helping people build wealth, creating jobs and strengthening neighborhoods. But research funded by the Trust, JPMorgan Chase and Polk Bros Foundation shows entrepreneurs of color disproportionately lack access to the capital and services needed to grow and sustain a business. And, the organizations that do provide assistance are not specialized or coordinated enough across the sector to support entrepreneurs’ growth and success.

With three colleague foundations, the Trust launched the Chicago-Area Businesses of Color Partnership Fund to provide grants for organizational collaborations pursuing innovative solutions to the challenges facing entrepreneurs of color. As part of a commitment to connecting donors to the most impactful giving opportunities, the Trust invited a select group of donors to join in funding this initiative. Their generosity enabled us to fully fund collaborative partnerships.

“The Fund aligns with our deep commitment as entrepreneurs to help those who have not historically had access to the capital and social networks that are critical in building wealth,” says donors Liz and Don Thompson. “We hope our contribution might be catalytic for others to understand the importance of this work and how critical it is for all of us to invest in the future of our region.”

Research shows self-employed business owners, specifically people of color, grow their earnings faster than people in traditional employment. Further, the household wealth gap between White and Black entrepreneurs narrows significantly as compared to the general population. The Chicago-Area Businesses of Color Partnership Fund will help strengthen the network serving Chicago’s entrepreneurs of color to help them get the resources they need to grow their businesses, increase their household wealth, revitalize communities and help the region thrive.