i.c.stars Selected for Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Grant

i.c.stars Selected for Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Grant

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Three-Year Program Will Advance Efforts to Support Diverse Entrepreneurs

Group Shot_Blackstone WBC press conference_v2

CHICAGO, June 5, 2017 – i.c.stars was selected by ChicagoNEXT, World Business Chicago (WBC), and the Blackstone Charitable Fund 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, i.c.stars 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.

“This grant will enable the scale our Enterprise Next tech and social entrepreneurship training program, increasing the number of participants by more than 200%, and expanding incubation from one entrepreneur to many who will create jobs in our communities,” said i.c.stars president and co-founder Sandee Kastrul. “This capital makes it possible to continue and grow our pilot Enterprise Next training.”

i.c.stars is a workforce development nonprofit and social enterprise that trains highly talented, underserved young adults for technology careers and community leadership. Through a project-based model, young people gain the technical, career readiness and leadership skills - and professional network - needed to jumpstart their careers in technology.

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has partnered with ChicagoNEXT to operate the pilot initiative and manage the grantees.

“i.c.stars has been selected as part of the inaugural Blackstone Challenge cohort for their innovative work providing marginalized communities with vital resources that foster inclusive growth in Chicago,” said ChicagoNEXT Director of Inclusive Entrepreneurship Jimmy Odom. “Supporting diverse communities and start-ups will allow for greater growth in 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.

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About i.c.stars
Formed in 1999, Inner-City Computer Stars Foundation (i.c.stars) is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization and social enterprise that prepares young adults for technology careers and community leadership. Using project-based learning and full-immersion teaching, i.c.stars has trained more than 360 individuals in Chicago, and places 90 percent of qualified graduates in jobs. Participants see their annual earnings increase by an average of 300 percent as a result of the program. In 2016, i.c.stars launched an affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, and created Enterprise Next, a lean startup incubator to jumpstart alumni businesses. Learn more at: www.icstars.org

About World Business Chicago and ChicagoNEXT
World Business Chicago is a public-private, non-profit partnership that drives inclusive economic growth and job creation, supports business, and promotes Chicago as a leading global city.

Chaired by Mark Tebbe, ChicagoNEXT leads WBC’s dedicated effort to drive growth and opportunity for Chicago’s tech economy through a portfolio of initiatives and programs governed by a council of technology leaders. With the mission to grow Chicago’s vibrant tech ecosystem, ChicagoNEXT strategic focus areas include industry, talent, capital and community.

About the Blackstone Charitable Foundation
The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was founded at the time of Blackstone’s initial public offering in 2007 with substantial commitments from the Firm’s employees. Influenced by the enterprising heritage of the firm and its founders, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is directing its resources and applying the intellectual capital of the firm to foster entrepreneurship in areas hardest hit by the global economic crisis. Through its investment expertise across several asset classes and geographies, Blackstone has a unique perspective on the global economy and a heightened understanding of how entrepreneurial activity is often the crucial catalyst in the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities.

A Measurable Impact

Initial placement rate:
90%
Industry retention rate:
81%
College attendance rate:
55%
Alumni actively engaged in their communities:
72%
Average 12-month earnings before program:
$10,790
Average 12-month earnings after program:
$44,010