The Commons on Champa Receives $400,000 Grant

December 1, 2016

Grant to Further Programming to Support Women and Minority Entrepreneurs

The Commons on Champa (The Commons), a public campus for entrepreneurship in Downtown Denver, received a $400,000 Inclusion Challenge grant from the Kauffman Foundation to help female entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs of color achieve higher rates of success. The Commons is one of 12 nonprofit organizations selected from 376 applicants across the country to receive grant funds and support from the Kauffman Foundation.

The Downtown Denver Partnership (Partnership) envisioned and manages operations at The Commons, which was jointly founded in May 2015 by the Partnership, Colorado Technology Association and the City and County of Denver to bring high quality programming, advanced technology, networking and other resources at low-to-no-cost for all entrepreneurs.

The Partnership has remained steadfast in its commitment to creating a diverse ecosystem of entrepreneurs who are contributing to our local innovation economy through programming at The Commons, and the Inclusion Challenge grant will support the launch of a free “Entrepreneurial Journey” accelerator program with a special focus on educational resources for women, people of color, military veterans and new American citizens. The quarterly program includes a track-based curriculum with a goal to reach hundreds of individuals from underserved communities each year.

“The Commons on Champa was founded to grow Downtown Denver’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and by reducing barriers to entry and supporting entrepreneurs from all walks of life start and grow businesses we are creating a stronger, more integrated entrepreneurial ecosystem in Downtown Denver,” said Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “We truly believe that economic growth and city-wide prosperity happens when entrepreneurs come together to create community, share ideas and empower themselves, and we thank the Kauffman Foundation for the support of The Commons on Champa.”

The Commons supports strategies in the 2007 Downtown Area Plan, the 20-year vision for Downtown Denver, and Denver’s JumpStart economic development plans to ensure Downtown is the best place for small businesses to thrive. Nearly 30,000 people have accessed the free programs, resources and events at The Commons.

“Collaborations like The Commons on Champa are creating empowering spaces for entrepreneurs from all walks of life to achieve their business goals, reducing existing barriers to starting up and driving a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Downtown Denver that will power the city’s forward looking economic progress,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “As a partner of The Commons, we welcome the opportunity to leverage this grant to better equip our women and minority entrepreneurs with the skills, network and resources necessary to turn their incredible ideas into successful businesses.”

The Partnership also announced last month the launch of the Colorado Alliance of Veteran Entrepreneurs (CAVE), an unprecedented resource for veterans with a mission to help veterans with a passion for entrepreneurship start or launch companies through community support and access to jobs and resources. CAVE was founded by the Downtown Denver Partnership, leaders from startups including HyprLoco, accelerated learning programs including Skill Distillery and the Turing School of Software & Design, and veteran-focused accelerator Patriot Boot Camp.

The grant was presented at the Kaufmann Foundation’s Mayor’s Conference on Entrepreneurship in St. Petersburg, Fla. Grant awards range from $87,000 to $420,000 over the next two years per grantee. Click here to view the award announcement from the Kauffman Foundation.

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