SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the Aspire Challenge, a prize competition of up to $1.2 million to expand access to entrepreneurial education and microloans for formerly incarcerated individuals.
The competition will make up to 16 awards of $75,000 to organizations across the nation to assist in delivering entrepreneurial training and microloan assistance to formerly incarcerated individuals.
“Entrepreneurship and small business ownership are proven paths toward wealth creation and financial independence, especially for people who might otherwise feel trapped by their circumstances,” said Tameka Montgomery, associate administrator for the SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development.
“Entrepreneurship can even be a ladder of opportunity for citizens who have served their debt to society but are struggling to find employment after incarceration. With the training and startup tools provided through this competition, these citizens can finally start to rebuild their lives and build relationships with their families and communities.”
The competition will award prizes to entrepreneurial support organizations that propose innovative solutions to equipping returning citizens with the tools they need to succeed in entrepreneurship.
Components by which the submissions will be assessed include recruitment methods, education/training delivery, provision of mentoring services, community connections and ways in which participants will be connected to access to capital and financial literacy.
The SBA will award the prizes to organizations through the online competition platform, www.challenge.gov. The competition is open to all for-profit and non- profit entities and organizations.
The submission period opened Dec. 29, 2016 and will end on Feb. 12, 2017. The SBA anticipates that winners will be announced no later than March 14, 2017.