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Community Advocacy Organization

Applications Open for 2nd Elevate Cohort, LEAP and PNC Foundation’s Black Entrepreneurship Program


Program Seeks to Increase and Strengthen Black Businesses Across Clinton, Eaton and Ingham Counties

LANSING, Mich. (Feb. 1, 2023) — The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), with support from the PNC Foundation, has opened applications for the second cohort of Elevate, a Black business accelerator program in Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties. Applications to the Elevate program will be accepted until February 26, 2023.

This program will be the second application period for Elevate, an entrepreneurial support program focused on empowering, refining, enhancing and scaling Black businesses to grow into the future. The program was created in 2022 to help Black business owners improve and maximize operational efficiency and heighten business sophistication to drive increased profitability and revenue. Over the course of Elevate’s three-year funding cycle, at least 51% of the entrepreneurs accepted into the Elevate program will be at or below Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) level and all participants will identify as Black.

“Black business ownership is a proven path to wealth and job creation that stimulates the U.S. economy,” said Tony Willis, chief equity development officer at LEAP. “Deep-rooted systemic barriers still limit economic growth and prosperity for Black people, ultimately preventing generational wealth. LEAP successfully completed Elevate’s pilot program in 2022.Thanks to the first cohort’s hard work, we will use what we have learned to strengthen and position the program for continued success.”

The continuation of the Elevate program is made possible through a three-year grant from PNC as part of its $88 billion Community Benefits Plan announced in 2021, inclusive of a previously announced commitment of more than $1.5 billion to support the economic empowerment of Black Americans and low- and moderate-income communities. Additional funding from Ingham County will allow Ingham County participants to improve and expand their business with grants.

“PNC’s support of LEAP’s continued diverse programming reflects our Main Street values and commitment to the communities where we conduct business,” said Timothy Salisbury, PNC regional president for Mid-Michigan. “The Elevate program is an example of what can be accomplished through strong public-private partnerships. It’s essential to support local businesspeople as our communities face many challenges presented by the pandemic and historical exclusion.”

In 2023, Elevate programming included individualized business assessment, customized work plan development and one-on-one technical assistance. Moving forward with the next cohort, programming will also include skill building workshops and private audiences with Lansing Region Black Executives. A committee comprised of LEAP employees and board members, and representatives of PNC will select eight entrepreneurs to participate in this six- to eight-month accelerator program.

“As one of LEAP’s regional programs, Elevate is designed to increase the number of people participating in our regional economy. Our region’s long-term economic stability and prosperity is strengthened by more people with more money in their pockets, and more businesses. LEAP will continue to be intentional and lead the way in the Lansing Region and across the state and nation to reduce barriers to participation,” said Bob Trezise, president and CEO of LEAP.

For more information, to apply and to learn about last year’s inaugural cohort, refer to LEAP’s website at www.purelasing.com/elevate.


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