New Grant Program Funds Mentoring, Training and Coaching for Entrepreneurs
Dr. Reva Barewal, a prosthodontist, specializes in treating patients who have difficulty chewing and swallowing due to stroke, brain injury, disease or poor teeth. The problem affects one in 25 people in the United States, yet commercial food options leave patients choosing from a limited menu of sweet liquids and puddings.
Recognizing the opportunity to provide better food options, Barewal, both a clinician and culinary chef, developed a line of savory therapeutic foods. Taste for Life, LLC and its Savorease™ products were born.
To help her fledgling enterprise grow, Barewal reached out to Laura Kubisiak, a TiE Oregon designated “venture catalyst” — an experienced entrepreneur with investment experience — to provide essential support.
“Laura Kubisiak’s support enabled me to win a critical grant that helped launch my business. I greatly valued her insights as a business professional, as well as her guidance as a trusted counselor, coach, and connector to resources that helped me grow,” says Barewal.
Kubisiak offered this support thanks in part to a grant from OCF. She provides one-on-one coaching, technical assistance and events to support new business owners, with a focus on supporting women and BIPOC entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs have big ideas and creative ways to solve problems, but they often need help developing their business plans, go-to-market strategies, recruiting talented teams or board members and raising money. For over a decade, OCF has been providing grants to organizations that mentor, train and coach entrepreneurs across the state. The support has enabled people in rural and urban communities to start new companies and create jobs.
“Entrepreneurs are responsible for a large part of the new job creation in Oregon, and OCF’s investment in Oregon’s innovation economy is strategic. We want people to grow thriving companies, build wealth and give back to our communities,” says Melissa Freeman, director of strategic projects at OCF. “It takes a village to raise a successful entrepreneur.”
This year, OCF launched the Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant Program to provide funding for nonprofit organizations that support entrepreneurs with particular emphasis on those that assist women, people of color, and rural entrepreneurs. The program provides an open, responsive grantmaking opportunity that offers flexible funding. Priority is given to organizations that either have a demonstrated track record of success working with diverse entrepreneurs or a promising approach and plan to serve entrepreneurs in a new way.
OCF received over 50 applications for support, requesting $1.4 million in funding. OCF will award $500,000 to eligible nonprofits later this year.
“If [these organizations] can grow their programs and build more partnerships, we hope they’ll be eligible for more significant resources from the state and federal government in the future,” explains Freeman. The grantees will be announced in November.
Organizations that don’t receive or didn’t apply for these grants have the option of submitting information to OCF’s Organizational Profile Tool. This tool helps keep staff and donors at OCF updated with the organizations’ current mission statements, demographics of populations served, and current and upcoming projects, helping donors make decisions about programs to fund.
Since the Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant is a pilot project in its first year, there is opportunity to leverage OCF’s investment and support these critical organizations serving Oregon entrepreneurs. Donate to the Oregon Small Business Stabilization Fund today to continue supporting entrepreneurs and small business in the community or please contact your donor relations officer or Melissa Freeman, director of strategic projects at firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 227-6846.