The City University of New York (CUNY) has joined forces with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Rockefeller Foundation to launch CUNY's Ascend NYC program. This initiative is designed to provide Bronx small business owners with access to more hiring opportunities, management education, market opportunities, and capital. Phillip Grant, CEO of Hunts Point Produce Market, commented on the importance of this program: “Throughout my years of supporting minority and women-owned commercial businesses (MWBEs), I have realized that network access and the right contacts can be a major factor in a company's success.” JPMorgan Chase has made an investment in Ascend to expand to the Bronx and leverage the knowledge, skills and enthusiasm of the most influential large institutions in the business community to help launch or grow small businesses in their neighborhoods. This investment will link a cohort of 13 diverse Bronx-based small entrepreneurs to management education, market opportunities and capital through a network of partners that includes the BOC Network, the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative (BCDI) BronxChange, the Bronx Community College of the City University of New York and BOC Capital Corp.
But, Grant added, the crisis also brought the community and businesses together to support each other. In response to COVID-19, BOC Capital provides low-cost funding to support the recovery of small businesses. The Alliance works closely with New York City Parks, as well as dozens of community partners, regional nonprofit organizations, businesses and all levels of government. In Good Company In Good Company, an alliance of value-driven companies led by Clif Bar & Company, collaborates with Bronx Green-Up on their week-long employee retreats. NYC Media Lab, a public-private partnership launched by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, funds prototyping projects that foster collaboration in a variety of disciplines critical to the future of media and runs The Combine, an accelerator for early-stage media and technology startups. Recognizing that motivated small business owners, particularly women and immigrant and minority entrepreneurs, often lack access to capital and business counseling, the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington created Ascend to allow minority businesses to grow and thrive by focusing on management, markets and money.
Companies like KOJO Pest Control are creating connections across the Bronx that will strengthen their businesses for years to come. Ascend NYC is an invaluable program for small business owners in the Bronx. It provides access to resources that can help them succeed in their endeavors. With this initiative, CUNY is helping to unlock business opportunities for entrepreneurs in this area.