Pitch grant program offers funding, wraparound services to nonprofits utilizing innovative technology-based solutions to support small businesses
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 17, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Truist Foundation today announced the finalists for the Inspire Awards, a pitch grant program that elevates and celebrates nonprofits from across the country with innovative solutions that support entrepreneurs. This year's awards spotlight how nonprofits can leverage technology to empower entrepreneurs to serve their customers, adapt during economic disruptions, streamline operations, and build partnerships that strengthen the small business community.
Following the success of the inaugural Inspire Awards in 2022, Truist Foundation again partnered with Solve, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to identify nonprofits with the most innovative, tech-enabled solutions that address challenges faced by small business owners. Truist Foundation and MIT Solve received over 100 grant applications from across 32 states. Following a vetting and interview process, seven finalists were selected to move forward to participate in the wraparound support program and pitch their solution at the Awards ceremony.
"Whether it's better data and insights, software solutions or the use of artificial intelligence, technology has the power to completely transform the way small businesses operate. Innovative nonprofits are demonstrating how technology can be a dynamic tool, which can streamline processes, customize solutions and make a lasting impact," said Lynette Bell, president of Truist Foundation. "We're thrilled to welcome these seven nonprofit finalists to our Inspire Awards program; their care for small businesses and dedication to innovation is what helps our communities thrive."
Forward-thinking solutions and services provided by nonprofits are essential to small business owners. The following organizations submitted solutions with transformational potential and have been selected as the new class of Inspire Awards finalists:
- ACT! Albany Community Together Inc, increasing and enhancing its training and technical assistance programs to empower small businesses in a 38-county region of southwest Georgia.
- Aire Ventures Inc, partnering with Zirtue to support Opportunity Connect, a neighborhood initiative that aims to provide access to capital to small businesses owners in opportunity zones.
- Carina, offering an easy-to-use, mobile-first childcare matching platform, available in English and Spanish, that matches unionized Family Child Care Providers (FCCPs) with families needing childcare.
- Centro Community Partners, providing an AI-generated journey through a virtual hub of small business owner resources for low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs in underserved communities.
- Immigrants Rising & Community Initiatives, employing a gamification learning hub to cater to individuals facing barriers to traditional employment who want to earn a sustainable income through small business ownership.
- NCRC Community Development Fund, supporting an AI-based lending platform to make the loan application process more efficient and accessible to undercapitalized small businesses.
- Start Small. Think Big. Inc, developing a dynamic web portal to improve services for small businesses from marginalized communities that will serve as a hub for onboarding, project management and analytic tools as well as legal, financial, and sales and marketing administration.
"I am uplifted by the remarkable Truist Foundation Inspire Awards finalists. These change-makers center small businesses at the core of their missions and answer their needs with essential technological solutions," said Hala Hanna, executive director of MIT Solve. "Their work illustrates the indispensable role nonprofits play in supporting small businesses. It also highlights the transformative power technology can have in the nonprofit sector, scaling impact, and ensuring the enduring success of these enterprises."
The seven finalists will take part in a six-month wraparound support program to help transform their groundbreaking ideas and focus on cutting-edge concepts. This includes in-person training at the Truist Leadership Institute as well as one-on-one coaching and skill-building workshops to help optimize and increase effectiveness of these nonprofit organizations.
The Inspire Awards program will culminate with a dynamic event hosted by a special guest at the Knight Theatre in Charlotte, N.C. During this exciting, one-night-only event – scheduled for April 24, 2024, finalists will have the opportunity to share their innovative ideas with the community and a live in-person and online audience. At the conclusion of the event, Truist Foundation will announce a winner, second place and audience favorite. All finalists will receive funding to help bring their solutions to life totaling $250,000 for the winner, $150,000 for second place and $25,000 for runners-up by the end of the program; plus, the audience favorite will receive an additional $75,000.
Registration to watch live is anticipated to open in February 2024. Virtual attendees will have the ability to vote for the audience favorite during the show. For additional details and updates, visit truist.com/InspireAwards.
About Truist Foundation
Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation's (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. The Foundation, an endowed private foundation established in 2020 whose operating budget is independent of Truist Financial Corporation, makes strategic investments in a wide variety of nonprofit organizations centered around two focus areas: building career pathways to economic mobility and strengthening small businesses to ensure all communities have an equal opportunity to thrive. Embodying these focus areas are the Foundation's leading initiatives – the Inspire Awards and Where It Starts. Learn more at Truist.com/Foundation.
About MIT Solve
Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to drive innovation to solve world challenges. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation challenges, Solve finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world. Solve then brings together MIT's innovation ecosystem and a community of members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help them drive lasting transformational impact. Solve has catalyzed over $50 million in commitments for Solver teams and entrepreneurs to date. Join Solve on this journey at solve.mit.edu.
SOURCE Truist Foundation