1871 was selected by ChicagoNEXT, World Business Chicago (WBC) and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation 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 start-ups in the Chicago area.
Of nearly fifty applicants, 1871 was selected as one of eight organizations to receive funding from Blackstone to advance entrepreneurship in marginalized communities, including communities of color, women, veterans and immigrants.
“We’re honored to be among the first wave of leading Chicago tech organizations to be given the opportunity to participate in this program,” said 1871 CEO Howard A. Tullman. “As a non-profit, this new funding will allow us to greatly expand the reach of our already outstanding programming and event offerings. Diversity and inclusion in tech are core values at 1871, and we’re thrilled we will be able to have a broader impact. We are truly grateful to the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and ChicagoNext for the opportunity.”
1871 is home to nearly 500 early-stage, high-growth digital startups located in a 150,000 square-foot space in The Merchandise Mart. 1871 has more than 400 current mentors available to its members, as well as more than 80 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and other organizations that make its extensive matrix of resources possible. Diversity and inclusion are core pillars of 1871’s mission, with every function and resource provided to the tech community being reflective of the city of Chicago.
Blackstone Challenge funding will allow 1871 to create the 1871 Community Curriculum Project that will digitalize content from its workshops and events to make it accessible to a wider audience of entrepreneurs. 1871 plans to greatly expand the distribution of programming and content to its partners in the Chicago community, with the goal of increasing access to its suite of educational offerings at 1871. With over a thousand events per year, the grant will help 1871 bolster its library of digital content that can be shared with the schools, universities, community-based organizations and other partners who will benefit from the outstanding programming at 1871 without having to be physically present. This will further increase diversity and inclusion in Chicago tech by bringing these excellent educational opportunities to every corner of the city.
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has partnered with ChicagoNEXT to operate the pilot initiative and manage the grantees.
“1871 has been selected as part of the Blackstone Challenge cohort for their innovative work providing diverse entrepreneurs with a suite of resources that foster inclusive growth in Chicago,” said ChicagoNEXT Director of Inclusive Entrepreneurship Jimmy Odom. “Supporting start-ups from underserved communities will grow 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 July 2017.