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Community Advocacy Organization

Elevate All-Black Business Accelerator Welcomes First Cohort

Eight Entrepreneurs Join Rigorous Six-Month Business Accelerator Program LANSING, Mich. (April 28, 2022) – Today, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) and the PNC Foundation, in partnership with Best Practice Consulting Solutions welcomed eight entrepreneurs from the Lansing region who will participate in the inaugural LEAP Elevate cohort— the region’s first all-Black business accelerator program. LEAP received nearly 70 applications for the eight spots available during the competitive application process.

The Elevate program is designed as a business accelerator to address the statistical evidence that Black entrepreneurs have less access to management structures and upward career trajectories than any other demographic.

Those selected for the April – Oct. 2022 program are:

  • DeAnna Brown— Everything is Cheesecake

  • Donald Lovell— Trouble Shooters Technical Support

  • Eva Thompson— JEM Cleaning LLC

  • Lorin Cumberbatch— Skin Studio 211

  • Marcus Leslie— Mr. Leslie’s Cheesecakes

  • Nikki Thompson Frazier— Sweet Encounter Bakery & Cafe

  • Sidney McCalib— Next Up Michigan

  • Tiffany Nordé—Dancing with the Nordés

Acknowledging that Black communities have the widest discrepancy in wealth equity and distribution (McKinsey, 2019), the Elevate program will provide Black business owners with resources and programming historically inaccessible due to systemic barriers.

“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 continue to work to address the challenges presented by historical exclusion, as well as the pandemic.”

Elevate focuses on three key business metrics: revenue, profitability and prominence. In addition to these target measurables, the accelerator program will use individualized business assessment, customized work plan development and one-on-one technical assistance to elevate these businesses over the six-month program designed to empower, refine, enhance and scale their businesses.

“Black business ownership is a proven path to wealth and job creation that stimulates the U.S. economy. Deep-rooted systemic challenges still limit economic growth and prosperity for persons of color, but especially Black people, ultimately preventing generational wealth,” said Tony Willis, chief equity development officer at LEAP. "We received nearly 70 applications for eight spots. There is a clear desire for this type of programming in our region and it only became possible on this segmented level because of the specificity of PNC’s funding. As a result, LEAP has an opportunity to address these issues and facilitate change.”

LEAP has a strong history of engaging, working and assisting entrepreneurs from ALICE households and marginalized backgrounds. LEAP’s regional programs such as One and All, The Hatching, LevelUp, and now Elevate, ensure that our region is assisting as many people as possible to become successful business owners generating new wealth and jobs in our community.

The Elevate program is made possible through a three-year $120,000 grant from PNC Foundation 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.

About LEAP The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all — working every day to grow, retain and attract business to the Lansing, Michigan, region.

About PNC Foundation

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (, actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

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