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2nd round of Springboard applications opens to support those strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystem


Mon, May 20th 2024 11:00 am

Strong response in round 1 for new rapid prize competition that will award $600,000 in 2024 

Press Release

The second round of applications for Springboard, a new regional, innovative, year-long rapid prize competition, is now open for organizations and businesses working to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Western New York.

Offering total prizes of $600,000 in 2024, the first application round was launched in March and attracted 131 applicants. Applicants for round one included a variety of businesses and nonprofit organizations. Prizes range between $5,000 and $25,000 per winner and will be awarded in three rounds. Round two applications are due June 21, 2024, and can be found here.

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 expanding and broadening the region’s entrepreneurial landscape.

Round one awards will be announced June 24 at an event in Rochester. Round Two winners will be announced at an event in Buffalo on Aug. 22. The final application round will open at the end of June with a deadline of Aug. 23. Winners will be announced at an event to be held in the Southern Tier in October.

Up to 10 winners will be chosen for each of the three application rounds, with the potential awards 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.

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 two must be postmarked or submitted online no later than 11:59 p.m. June 21, 2024.

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 an extensive team of local partners across the region.

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, including Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans or Wyoming.

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.

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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