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Springboard will award at least $600,000 to entrepreneur builders in 2024


Mon, Mar 18th 2024 11:15 am

New rapid prize competition launched to reward & support those strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystem 

Press Release

Springboard, a new regional, innovative, year-long rapid prize competition, launched today. Offering total prizes of at least $600,000 in 2024, the program is designed to strengthen and incentivize those who are working to boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Western New York. Prizes will range between $5,000 and $25,000 per winner and will be awarded in three rounds. Ideal candidates have a product, service, program or initiative that benefits entrepreneurs or businesses and need funding to expand or bring the idea to market.

The prize program will support those working in Greater Buffalo, Greater Rochester and Southern Tier communities who are actively contributing to entrepreneurship and building up the region’s entrepreneurial landscape.

Round one applications are due April 26 and can be found here.

Round two and three application deadlines are June 21 and Aug. 23, respectively. Eligible applicants can choose any application round but can only apply once. Applications can be submitted online at www.springboardny.org or sent via mail to Springboard ℅ Riveter Design, 166 Chandler St, Suite 402, Buffalo, NY 14207. Applications for round one must be postmarked or submitted online no later than 11:59 p.m. April 26. First round winners will be announced at the end of June.

The Center for Regional Strategies, Main Light Strategies, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, Victor & Company and several community partners collaborated to lead the development of the pilot program that seeks to provide incentives for events, initiatives and programs that connect entrepreneurs with resources, information and other organizations. The Center for Regional Strategies is leading the implementation of Springboard, along with Main Light Strategies and a robust team of local partners across the region.

“There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit across Western New York and, together with our partners, we want to strengthen the network of organizations and providers through the launch of Springboard to ultimately serve even more entrepreneurs and businesses,” said Jim Boyle, vice president of programs and communications, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “By introducing a new wave of innovative ideas and elevating their stories, we hope to invite new and more diverse communities into the regional ecosystem.”

Up to 10 winners will be chosen for each of the three application rounds, with the potential to be awarded funding ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. Each awardee will receive 75% of the award up front to implement their initiative, with 25% provided upon the completion of the agreed-upon work. The application process is intentionally streamlined, requiring only a simple two-page application.

The program is open to for-profit or nonprofit applicants with an Employee Identification Number (EIN) that operate in the nine counties of Western New York (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans or Wyoming).

Derrick Parson commented, "As the executive director of The Exchange at Beverly Gray, I am thrilled to see the launch of Springboard, a groundbreaking initiative helping to shape our entrepreneurial landscape in Western New York. This $600,000 prize program signifies a significant investment in our region's innovation. Springboard also shines a much-needed spotlight on diverse talents and ideas that often go unnoticed or underfunded. By providing substantial support, Springboard empowers individuals and organizations from all backgrounds to bring their visions to life, ultimately enriching our entire entrepreneurial community.”

Jim Senall, president of NextCorps Inc., said, “Rochester's entrepreneurial ecosystem has grown considerably over the past several years, and we are now excited about Springboard's efforts to speed that growth even further. The capital that Springboard will invest will help stimulate more startup activities, more services, and will help support new players with new ideas to help grow the community.”

Courtney Curatolo, director of the Jamestown Small Business Development Center at Jamestown Community College, added, “We are excited to partner with Springboard to bring this opportunity to the southernmost counties in Western New York. Our region of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany County is building the foundation of our entrepreneurial ecosystem, and this program will provide organizations that work with entrepreneurs the opportunity to be strategic in their programming over the next year so that our ecosystem can grow.”

Springboard will help to fund eligible activities that benefit entrepreneurs or promote business growth, such as pilot programs or new initiatives that are focused on entrepreneurship support, education, or ecosystem building; networking, mentoring, and match-making activities; entrepreneurship competitions such as hackathons or startup weekends; activities designed to support a target demographic; and innovation that helps facilitate the growth of many other companies. For comprehensive guidelines and other program details, visit www.springboardny.org.

Eligible applicants include entrepreneur support organizations; high schools, colleges and universities that support up-and-coming entrepreneurs; and capital providers such as seed-stage funders, angel groups, venture capital funds and CDFIs. Additionally, organizations that support diverse ownership or entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities; innovative businesses with less than $2,000,000 in gross revenue, and entrepreneurs with existing companies that support entrepreneurship, including sole proprietorships, are eligible to apply.

A judging committee will consider a variety of factors to determine awardees, including product or service design; ability to address current gaps in the marketplace or ecosystem; clearly defined target market; funding needs to test an idea that otherwise wouldn't be able to launch; and representing an underrepresented voice in the ecosystem such as race, gender, sector, geography, or socioeconomic status. Judging criteria will also include whether the idea, program, product or service ultimately benefits entrepreneurs or strengthens the chances for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses successfully.

More About the Center for Regional Strategies

The Center for Regional Strategies is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focusing on planning, developing and implementing economic growth strategies to build sustainable community wealth, especially in underserved areas. Wealth-building strategies focus on the core foundational principles of placemaking, workforce and small business development and nonprofit capacity building.

About Main Light Strategies

Main Light Strategies is a Buffalo-based strategic consulting firm that specializes in helping communities and companies achieve meaningful objectives in the areas of economic development, large-scale public-private partnerships, and professional sports and entertainment.

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