UMSL DEI Accelerator cohorts

Founders of six local businesses participated in last year's UMSL DEI Accelerator cohort. 

UMSL’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Accelerator — which provides business development training and $50,000 grants to local entrepreneurs from marginalized groups  — last week announced it would be accepting applications for its second cohort now through Oct. 29. 

In order to ensure as many qualified applicants as possible, they will be holding three community information sessions Oct. 7, Oct. 16, and Oct. 19. 

Monique Bynum, managing director of the DEI Accelerator, says she hopes to see a diverse range of people including people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and veterans applying to be part of the next cohort. Any founder of a for-profit business based in the St. Louis area is eligible to apply, though Bynum says they are looking for business models that are scalable. 

In the first cycle, in which six local founders participated, Bynum says the accelerator’s team were able to confirm something they already suspected.

“There’s a huge need in St. Louis for diverse businesses to be funded. And I say that because we received 437 applications in  that first year,” she said.

The second round of the program, which begins in January, may be run in a hybrid or entirely-virtual format, depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic develops. Last year, however, virtual programming came with some silver linings. 

“It was probably helpful in the fact that we were able to get guest speakers from all over the country, because we were virtual,” Bynum said.

Bynum urged all eligible individuals to apply, and not to be dissuaded by the extensive application process. 

“If you fit into the eligibility criteria, apply,” she said. “Because the application will allow you to learn more about your business. I've had companies and founders go through the application process and say ‘Wow, I never thought about asking myself that question. Wow, I didn't even know that I should be tracking that kind of information.’” 

“So even if you don't get into the program, the application will prepare you for the next application. It’s going to help you with your knowledge of your business and your knowledge of applying for grants and applications in general.” 

At the information sessions, DEI accelerator staff will walk founders through portions of the application process, let them know what to expect of the eight-session intensive program, and answer any questions they may have. Times and locations of the sessions are as follows: 

Date: Oct. 7

Time: 5-6 PM  

Location: Virtual 

Registration link:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/umsl-dei-accelerator-info-session-tickets-185123237587 

Date:  Oct. 16

Time: 10-11 AM

Location: 

UMSL Accelerate Building

(North Campus, formerly Gallery 210)

44 Arnold B Grobman Drive

Saint Louis, Missouri 63121

Registration link:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/umsl-dei-accelerator-info-session-tickets-185129396007 

 

Date: Oct. 19

Time: 5-6 PM 

Location: 

UMSL Accelerate Building

(North Campus, formerly Gallery 210)

44 Arnold B Grobman Drive

Saint Louis, Missouri 63121

 

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