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The Founders First Job Creators Quest Grant program will award $60,000 in grants to up to 20 diverse-led businesses in the Philadelphia-New Jersey metro areas that demonstrate the ability to grow their workforce over the next 12 months.

The deadline to apply is Aug. 20. Grant recipients will be selected based on their demonstrated ability to maintain and grow their workforce despite the pandemic, as well as their ongoing commitment to creating premium-wage jobs in their communities, according to Founders First.

Eligible companies must be located in Camden, Mercer, or Essex counties in New Jersey or Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania. The businesses must be led by “diverse founders,” have $100,000 to $3 million in annual revenue, two to 20 employees and the ability to add one to two new employees in premium wage jobs over the next year.

According to Founders First, diverse founders are Black, indigenous, people of color, LGBTQIA+, military veterans, women, or located in a low to moderate-income area.

Founders First is a nonprofit that focuses on helping small businesses led by diverse and disadvantaged business owners located in low- to moderate-income areas that are less connected to the traditional funding networks of Silicon Valley and New York City. The company combines an accelerator model that includes an educational curriculum and expert coaching alongside direct funding.

Shaylon Scott, executive director of Founders First, said the Job Creators Quest Grant program is a way to create success beyond the classroom.

“We have observed many founders working more in their businesses than on their businesses,” Scott said. “Our priority is to provide resources to entrepreneurs which will help them grow while simultaneously becoming premium wage job creators within their communities.”

The Newark-based Institute for Entreprenurial Leadership (IFEL), a program partner, said the grants will help diverse businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic thrive, not just merely survive.

“We know that businesses in communities of color were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and were essentially shut out of relief funding,” said IFEL CEO Jill Johnson. “It is important, now more than ever, that we provide these businesses that have been historically excluded from the financial markets access to the resources they require to succeed.”

For more information and to apply, visit https://foundersfirstcdc.org/pa-nj/. Any questions should be directed to philly.nj.jobcreators@foundersfirstcdc.org.