UofM’s Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion partnership receives $700K grant through the Build to Scale Capital Challenge

Oct. 20, 2022 — The University of Memphis’ Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion (CWDI), Black Business Association of Memphis (BBA) and Community Lift have been selected to receive a $700,196 grant in the 2022 Build to Scale Capital Challenge. It will be paired with a local match of the same amount.

Hosted by the Economic Development Administration, the Build to Scale Capital Challenge aims to strengthen growing industry clusters, promote the commercialization of new technologies, aid the expansion of entrepreneurial ventures and better build the industries of the future. The CWDI, Community LIFT, and BBA submitted the winning proposal, “Black Wealth Advancement through New Business and Knowledge Development” (BANK), with one goal in mind –  to further advance equity investments in small technology-oriented businesses in Memphis. Community LIFT is a Community Development Financial Institution and has a successful track record of raising investment funds for the Mid-South region. In a similar vein, the BBA has a long history of providing education, advocacy and business development resources for Memphis businesses. 

“I am excited for the opportunity to work with community partners to help Black-owned business scale up and to create more technology-focused jobs for Persons of Color,” said Dr. Kurt Kraiger, associate dean for Academic Programs & Research, Fogelman College of Business & Economics.”

During the performance period, the CWDI will organize and coordinate efforts to increase the capacity of Community LIFT to raise capital. Further, the BBA will apply its business expertise and networks to assist Community LIFT with fundraising. The connections and capabilities that each co-developer brings forth to this program will be vitally important to BANK’s success. 

The funding will be devoted to hiring additional staff responsible for raising equity-based capital funds, a fund director and a training coordinator to both amplify and drive investment toward the region’s tech-based businesses with growth potential.